In the week following Boston College’s stunning upset of N.C. State – the Eagles’ first ACC win in football or men’s basketball since the 2015 ACC tournament – normality was quickly restored when Boston College lost by a mere 45 to Louisville, which dropped the Eagles to 1-5 in the ACC.
With another long season looming in basketball, with potentially only Georgia Tech and Rutgers worse among Power 5 teams, it’s time for the ACC to start asking some difficult questions about Boston College. Only a decade after BC joined the ACC, something’s gone horribly wrong. And there’s every reason to believe it’s not going to get any better soon.
Boston College was never a perfect fit for the ACC outside of academics, even if it did extend John Swofford’s fabled footprint into New England, but at least when it joined the football and basketball programs were both competitive and relevant, more than up to ACC standards. The football program played in back-to-back ACC title games. The basketball team had a winning ACC record in four of its first six seasons in the league, playing for the title in 2006. Now they’re both completely overwhelmed, an anchor on the rest of the conference’s ambitions.
The Eagles lost 12 straight ACC games in football before beating N.C. State and have lost 19 straight in basketball. Boston College has one lonely ACC championship, in men’s soccer in 2007. Louisville has as many titles in two seasons in the conference as Boston College has in 12. Miami and Virginia Tech, which arrived from the Big East a year before BC, have combined for 27.
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Boston College’s baseball team made the NCAA tournament this spring, but plays, literally, in a parking lot. Its best program, hockey, isn’t even an ACC sport. Football is in disarray. The Eagles’ most generous booster for many years is estranged from the program. Doug Flutie isn’t walking through that door.
The basketball program is basically an expansion team whose lone four-year scholarship senior last year described the highlight of his career as “going out to eat.” That viral video from the ACC tournament was Boston College basketball’s lone contribution to the ACC last season, other than dragging down everyone’s RPI.
The only purpose Boston College serves in the ACC at this moment is as a counterweight to Louisville’s subpar academics and allowing the conference to make a token claim at northeastern television markets Boston College doesn’t actually deliver.
It’s unrealistic to expect Boston College to leave the ACC for at least a generation, willingly or otherwise. Not only does BC benefit from the massive sums of money every ACC school gets from ESPN, the Grant of Rights keeps teams from leaving the conference of their own accord anyway. Presumably that’s a two-way street.
The Big East did figure out a way to give Temple the boot in football in 2002 when the Owls failed to hit defined performance, attendance and scheduling targets. Maybe it’s time for the ACC to think about setting some targets for Boston College.
This much is certain: College athletics, for better or worse, as much as we may prefer it to be otherwise, is a business, and Boston College is a declining asset that’s damaging the ACC’s brand.
Even if expulsion isn’t the answer, the other 14 ACC schools need to start thinking now about the future of Boston College. This clearly isn’t working at the moment, and while everyone loves those easy wins in football and basketball – almost everyone – it isn’t healthy for the ACC to have one school lagging this far behind for this long.
Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, firstname.lastname@example.org, @LukeDeCock