A JERSEY GUY: Don't count on Luke Fickell Coming to BC

Mark Blaudschun

One of the names mentioned as a possible candidate as Boston College's next football coach has been Cincinnati's Luke Fickell.

Fickell, who came to Cincinnati from Ohio State, has been listed as one of BC athletic director Martin Jarmond's top choices and there have been rumors that Jarmond actually flew to Ohio this week to talk to Fickell, along with Ohio States assistants Al Washington and Jeff Hafley.

Hafley and Washington are legitimate candidates, Fickell is not, even though his coaching credentials are superb.

Here's why.

In 2004, I was covering college football for the Boston Globe. Boston College was in its final year as a member of the Big East before making the move to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Early in the 2004 football season, I had a sit down interview with Boston College President Father William Leahy and then BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo.

One of my main questions of Father Leahy was why BC was switching conferences.

His answer in essence was that BC wanted to be part of a group of schools with similar academic goals, such as Virginia, North Carolina, Duke and Georgia Tech.

The Big East in football was changing and was adding schools such as Louisville, South Florida and...Cincinnati, which Father Leahy said with extra emphasis when he said he didn't want BC to be part of that group.

The Eagles, coached by Tom O'Brien, were in a middle of a series of 9 wins seasons, which should have made them extremely attractive to bowls. It didn't because BC simply didn't travel well (bring fans).

That came in play at the end of a 9-3 season when I asked DeFilippo where BC might play in the post season. He said he had lined up[ a spot in the Fort Worth Bowl with Cincinnati.

DeFilippo thought it would be a good match up since O'Brien came from Cincinnati and still recruited extensively in the area.

"That's not going to happen,'' I told DeFilippo.

"Why not?'' he said. "It's a good match up.''

"Gene,'' I said. "I was in the room when Father Leahy almost spit out the word Cincinnati and how he didn't want to be part of a league with schools such as that.

"Oh that was just general talk,'' said DeFilippo. "This will work out.''

Two days later, I saw DeFilippo and he had a sheepish grin. "You know, you might have been right about Cincinnati,'' he said. "Father asked me if we had to play in a bowl game at all.''

DeFilippo made it clear that BC could not turn down a bowl bid, but he would try and work something out.

His first move was to call ACC commissioner John Swofford and tell him that he had a problem and BC needed a bowl game spot.

Swofford said all the bids were sort of filled, but he would check things out.

He did.

The Continental Tire Bowl that year was played in Charlotte and matched an ACC team against an at-large team. Swofford and the ACC had slotted North Carolina in that spot against another Big East team, UConn.

The deal was done-verbally. But Swofford made some calls and suggested to the bowl people and their sponsors that they would like to see North Carolina against a future ACC opponent--Boston College.

And just like that, it happened. UConn was out and had to scramble to find a slot in the Motor City Bowl in Detroit against Toledo and BC faced North Carolina.

True story and it's a long way to make a point. BC didn't want to play Cincinnati in 2004. It is 15 years later and to my knowledge, Cincinnati has not turned into the Harvard of the Midwest.

DeFilippo is no longer the BC AD, but Father Leahy is still calling the shots at The Heights.

Unless there has been some mystical moment in Chestnut Hill, there is no way BC will hire a football coach from Cincinnati, even if he wants to come there and even though he has more of an Ohio State than Cincinnati pedigree.

***

Quick question. When will BC announce that its All Conference running back AJ Dillon will not participate in BC's bowl game? The odds of Dillon returning for his senior season are minimal. He is headed to the NFL and playing in a second tier bowl game is a risk not worth taking.

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Mark Blaudschun

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