BC looks to stick it to Seminoles

October, 11, 2012
10/11/12
7:00
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NEWTON, Mass. -- The question was simple and the answer couldn’t have been blunter.

“Do you think Florida State respects you?”

“No,” Boston College linebacker Steele Divitto said.

“Why not?”

“Well, you know, the facts are right now that we’re 1-4,” he said before practice Wednesday. “Do they respect us in some aspects? Yes. But I don’t think many teams do respect us, unfortunately. But that’s just because of who we are. When we get everything turned around, that will be a different story.

“They know that they’re going to play a tough, physical team but they don’t have respect. They’re not going to have respect for us.”

“They don’t respect us,” linebacker Nick Clancy said. “That’s kind of been their thing from the get-go. They don’t respect BC. And in the past we’ve surprised them.”

The Eagles (1-4, 0-2 ACC) have lost two straight to the Seminoles (5-1, 2-1), are 3-4 against them since joining the ACC and 4-6 all time.

Surprisingly enough, BC is 2-1 against FSU in Doak Campbell Stadium. The Eagles won 24-19 in 2006 and 27-17 in 2008.

When push comes to shove on the respect front, the Eagles believe it comes down to pedigree.

“I think their mindset is ‘OK, yeah, we were these big-time recruits coming in. We’re much more talented than these guys. They don’t belong on the field with us,’” Clancy said. “And I think that’s kind of been the mentality not just for Florida State, but for a number of teams in the ACC when they face BC.”

The Eagles know what they have to do to change that perception: start winning games like the one they have on Saturday (5:35 p.m., ESPN2).

Losing motivation?

The Eagles have faced more than their share of adversity in recent seasons and believe they are stronger for the experience. They aren’t daunted by the need to rebound from a tough loss since they’ve had to do it before.

They’re not sure Florida State can say the same thing.

“Those kind of guys have had everything handed to them over the years and I don’t think they can respond to a tough loss like last week,” defensive back Sean Sylvia said of the Seminoles, many of whom were four- and five-star recruits. “Around here we have more blue-collar guys … and I think we’re more equipped to bounce back from a loss or [from starting] off a season like we have.”

“We know when adversity is thrown in our face what to do and how to respond,” Clancy said. “And I think that’s what separates us, guys with character and guys that won’t spit the bit when they’re faced with hard times.”

Sylvia, who is from Dartmouth, Mass., said he thinks the Eagles are adopting the same sort of mindset the Red Sox did when they were down 3-0 to the Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series.

“It’s kind of a ‘Why not us?’ type deal,” Sylvia said. “I just think anything can happen.”

Pantale progressing

Offensive cocaptain and preseason Mackey Award watch list member Chris Pantale is back on the practice field for the Eagles, and if all goes well this week the senior should be back against FSU.

Pantale broke a bone in his right foot during training camp and needed surgery. He’s missed the first five games of the season.

His teammates are looking forward to getting him back.

“He’s feeling good,” Alex Amidon said of Pantale. “He was such a big part of our team last year, especially at the end of the year he started playing really well. So I think him being back will help us out, for sure.”

BC coach Frank Spaziani appreciates getting Pantale -- the Eagles’ most experienced player with 38 career starts entering the 2012 season -- back for other reasons, as well.

“He adds a certain amount of toughness and experience, obviously, and leadership,” Spaziani said. “He’s been out there, he’s been in things. There’s a lot of intangibles besides the physical stuff that he now gives us some more stuff we can do offensively, with him.”

New leadership

Change is afoot in Chestnut Hill, with the hiring of new athletic director Brad Bates being made official on Tuesday afternoon.

The Eagles aren’t sure how it will affect them directly, but they’re excited to find out.

“Initially he just seems like a really down-to-earth guy,” Clancy said of Bates, who spoke to the football team after practice Tuesday. “Experienced, knows what he’s doing, very well spoken. He looks like he’s going to bring some excitement.”

“From what he said, I think he’s really passionate about the school,” Sylvia said.

The BC players were used to seeing a lot of Bates’ predecessor, Gene DeFilippo, who liked to come to practices, occasionally shared a meal with the team and accompanied them on trips. Now they’re wondering if things will be similar with Bates.

Quarterback Chase Rettig said it’s hard to know much about Bates, since he’s only officially been at BC for a little more than 24 hours. But there are definitely things to like, including his background playing for legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler.

“I’ve heard a lot that he was a hands-on guy when it came to working on different levels of the football coaching side,” Rettig said. “He’ll definitely be able to relate with us in different things, so I think guys are excited about that.”

Ultimately, though, it doesn’t really matter much for them.

“We just play ball no matter what,” Sylvia said. “I mean, AD or no AD, we just go out and play ball for the coach that we have.”

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

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