Boston College and Maryland have simultaneously imploded this year. Both programs are guaranteed to be home for the holidays, both have identical 2-7 records and one conference win. They also both have underlying issues with the staffs. Whether or not either one of them wins another game this season remains a question. If there’s one thing they can play for at this point -- besides pride, of course -- it’s the future.
Which one of these two programs will get back to a bowl game first?
Making the case for Maryland: Terps’ fans can and should expect some turnover following this season. It’s clear not every player fits into Randy Edsall’s system, nor do some of them want to. Quarterback Danny O'Brien could be among those who decide to transfer, and considering he will graduate soon, Vanderbilt could be an enticing option. With that being said, once Edsall has cleared the program of any internal discord, it will be much easier to focus on winning with the players who want to be there. Having a healthy lineup will also make a difference, especially on defense, where seven potential starters have been sidelined. The current team is lacking an identity, but this offseason will provide Edsall with an opportunity to find new leaders once the dust settles. The other intangible Maryland has over Boston College at this point is more security at the head-coaching position. The athletic department can’t afford to fire Edsall, who has a lucrative six-year, $12 million contract -- at least not immediately after buying out the end of Ralph Friedgen’s contract. BC, meanwhile, could have some options.
Making the case for Boston College: The first thing that needs to happen is the coaching staff needs to work out any internal issues that might be brewing. The return of Kevin Rogers as offensive coordinator seems unlikely at this point, as Rogers took a leave of absence for health reasons, but Frank Spaziani needs to re-evaluate the position at the end of the season. Athletic director Gene DeFilippo also needs to figure out what he’s doing with Spaziani, whose job as head coach can be questioned, but who also started behind in the recruiting no thanks to his predecessor, Jeff Jagodzinski. One thing Spaziani has going for him is the fact that turnover at the head-coaching position has been part of the problem at BC. Another year of recruiting and stability under the same head coach -- provided the questions on offense get answered -- could pay off more than yet another transition year. There is enough talent on this roster to get to a bowl game, and that includes the running backs without injured star Montel Harris. BC had gone to 12 straight bowl games before this season. It’s not a stretch to say this season is the anomaly. Maybe the best and simplest argument for BC, though, is that it beat Maryland this year.
Prediction: Despite the expected turnover on the roster, the Terps seem to have more stability for the immediate future and the better chance at the postseason for 2012. The truth is, though, you could flip a coin on this one. Both of these programs are walking a fine line between a rough season and a rough few years and need to make internal changes to assure this is a short-term dip.