- The ACC is moving to a divisionless football schedule in 2023.
- The move will be impactful for mediocre programs trapped in good divisions.
- Jeff Hafley has won 15 games in three years.
- Boston College’s win total for 2023 is 5.5.
With college football games now just six weeks away, many fans and writers are honing in on the specific contours of the upcoming 2023 football season.
While I don’t think about the revolving 2023 college football hot seat carousel as much as some others, I do occasionally wonder about the fate of a few prominent coaches.
That brings us to Boston College football coach Jeff Hafley, who is just ahead of a critical fourth year of results in the northeast. Can he secure his first seven-win season?
At the crux of the matter is upcoming changes to the ACC football schedule.
ACC Football Schedule
One of the hottest trends in college football right now is the dissolution of divisional trends. All across the FBS landscape, major conferences are either moving to a divisionless scheduling model for the first time this season, or they’re preparing to in the near future.
Instead of conference finales netting out to the best of Column A against the best of Column B, college football fans will see better championship games and fewer teams trapped by their own regionality.
That might not seem like a big change, but it is. As one example, consider the Big Ten championship game. The eastern division has beaten the western division for 10 years in a row, with an average margin of victory of 19 points.
Why are we propping up the mediocre western half of the Big Ten, as if their birthright is a guaranteed spot in the conference title game?
One of the lesser-known effects will be the improvement of average teams trapped in good divisions. That’s exactly what we’ll see this fall with Boston College and what used to be called the Atlantic Division of ACC football.
Boston College Football Schedule 2023
In the past, Boston College’s conference schedule has looked like this: Clemson, Florida State, NC State, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Louisville, and two games against random Coastal opponents.
Because of that, Boston College has often been the whipping boy of the Atlantic Division. The Eagles finished 11-3 in 2007, during Matt Ryan’s senior season; after that, the record got worse every year for five seasons, bottoming out at 2-10 in Frank Spaziani’s final 2012 campaign. The ceiling was generally seven wins, under the steady hand of Steve Addazio.
But Boston College’s fate is looking up this year because its schedule is no longer trapped in a loaded division.
Boston College’s football schedule is something. Northern Illinois, Holy Cross, Army, and UConn. Then with the new ACC scheduling don’t play Clemson or the entire Big Four. Gotta be the first ACC team ever to not play a North Carolina based ACC team in conference play right?
— FanaticDeac (@FanaticDeac) July 12, 2023
Sure, the Eagles will have tough games this year, with Florida State, Pitt, and Miami all on the schedule. But there’s also plenty of games against former Coastal Division members: Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, UVA.
Non-conference games against Northern Illinois, Holy Cross, Army, and UConn make this the most winnable schedule BC has had in over a decade.
It’s actually the tricky regional game against Bob Chesney’s vastly underrated Holy Cross team that would scare me the most, if I’m an Eagles fan. There’s real potential there for BC to become one of this year’s inevitable FCS vs. FBS upsets.
Jeff Hafley Hot Seat
As I said at the beginning, all of this scheduling talk ties back to the Hafley question. Earlier this summer, I wrote an article ranking ACC college football coaches for 2023. I had Hafley dead last, at No. 14. Hafley had a pretty light resume when they plucked him up from Columbus after 2019. I’m not sure what they saw in him.
With the scheduling change-up in this year’s ACC, this is Hafley’s chance to show that BC can be more than just a doormat in a good division.
The Eagles have never won more than six games in a season under Hafley, and he’s 15-20 overall after three seasons. But Boston College did play an impressive .500 season in 2020, when the conference’s COVID response temporarily opened up the calendar to divisionless scheduling – much like the ACC will see this season. That’s the main reason for cautious optimism in Chestnut Hill this fall.
On the other hand, if the team wins fewer games against an easier schedule… Well, it’ll probably be time for a fresh coaching search in Boston.
Either way, I’m playing the scheduling trend in the college football win totals market. Give me the over 5.5 for Boston College.
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