2009 ACC Football Legends: Mike Mayock, Boston College
Nov. 17, 2009
Mike Mayock suited up for his first college football game at Boston College on Sept. 11, 1976. He never left the sidelines, but what transpired that day confirmed what he already knew: He wanted to be around the game in some capacity for the remainder of his life.
Mayock is one of this year's Dr Pepper Atlantic Coast Conference Football Championship Game Legends who will be honored at this year's ACC Football Championship Game weekend. The Legends will appear at the ACC Coaches and Awards Luncheon at noon on Friday, Dec. 4, and will be honored at the "ACC Night of Legends" held at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay on Friday evening. They will also be recognized during ceremonies at Raymond James Stadium for the 5th Annual Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship, which kicks off at 8 p.m., Dec. 5 on ESPN.
Now in his sixth year as the NFL Network's lead expert on the collegiate draft, Mayock recently looked back on his first game as a BC freshman, when the Eagles played host to a seventh-ranked Texas team led by All-America running back and future Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell.
"I didn't even get into the game, but we had a sellout crowd and we upset them, 14-13," Mayock recalled. "That was my introduction to college football, and it was pretty cool." Mayock fast-forwarded to the beginning of his senior year.
"Our first two games were against Pittsburgh, with Dan Marino at quarterback, and Stanford, with John Elway at quarterback," Mayock said. "I was a team captain that year and we were pretty good, but Pitt was No. 1 in the country that year, and Stanford was in the Top 10." The Eagles suffered a 14-6 road loss at Pittsburgh in the season opener, but Mayock was recognized as Chevrolet's Player of the Game in the televised contest. A week later, BC throttled Stanford by a 30-13 score at home, buoyed by two Mayock interceptions.
"We intercepted Marino and Elway (a combined) nine times in those two games," Mayock marveled.
Mayock endured a 0-11 season as a junior, as Boston College suffered the pains of a coaching transition. But the Eagles posted a 7-4 record the following season. Mayock, a team captain and senior leader, ranked among the school's all-time leaders in interceptions with 12.
But more importantly, he and the Eagles re-established the groundwork for a consistent winner. Doug Flutie's storied run as quarterback lay on the immediate horizon, and coaches such as Jack Bicknell, Tom Coughlin and Tom O'Brien would keep the program moving forward.
"I always felt like Boston College was a very sound program," Mayock said. "When I went there in the `70s, it seemed like every year they were 7-4, 8-3, 9-2, with the occasional big win. We began to pull our way out of (the 0-11 season), and then things began to really take off because of our affiliation with the conferences, and really good coaches."
Boston College's first conference affiliation, with the Big East, came shortly after Mayock's graduation. Mayock saw that as a giant positive step, one that was further enhanced when the Eagles joined the ACC in 2005.
"When I was a kid growing up in Eastern Pennsylvania, everyone was an independent - Penn State, Pitt, BC, West Virginia," Mayock recalled. "I always kind of wanted an Eastern-based league because you wanted to be able to identify with somebody.
"On one hand, it was kind of cool to be an independent, getting to play a whole bunch of teams. On the other hand, there was no clear-cut goal at the beginning of every season to win your conference."
Mayock has enjoyed the past three seasons, which have seen the Eagles capture two ACC Atlantic Division crowns and contend heavily for a third this year.
"I always wanted to be in a league," Mayock said. "And now that I know a lot of the coaches and players going through the program at Boston College, I know how much they love being part of the ACC.
"With the ACC, BC gets the best of all worlds. The football and basketball are fantastic. They've got the ability to recruit down south. If I were there now playing football and baseball and had the ability to play against the North Carolinas and the Florida States, I can't even imagine how great an opportunity that would be."
Mayock, who also starred on BC's baseball team, didn't realize how much the NFL Draft would become a focal point of his life in years to come. He only knew that he was caught up in the excitement in April of 1981, as he anticipated being chosen by an NFL team.
"I wound up being a 10th-round pick," Mayock said. "But I very much remember standing at first base for the BC baseball team, hoping that one of my roommates would be running down to tell me that I had been drafted earlier. ESPN had started to televise the draft in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and I have been fascinated by it ever since."
Mayock played briefly in the NFL before injuring his knee. At that point, he wasn't sure what lay ahead.
"I think people assumed I would go into coaching,' Mayock said. "My Dad was a coach, and I was offered a job with the Giants by (then defensive coordinator and special teams coach) Bill Belichick. I decided not to go that avenue. I went into business, but I missed football." Mayock decided to pursue a career in sports broadcasting.
"I knew the odds were against it because I didn't have a big name," Mayock said. "It wasn't like I was Doug Flutie or Dan Marino retiring. I had to work real hard at it locally at first and build a resume. Looking back at it, I am glad I took the time and made the effort."
By the mid-1990s, Mayock had polished his craft and built a reputation as a knowledgeable analyst. He became a familiar face working college football games on ESPN, CBS and NBC. Then, in early 2003, as the NFL prepared to launch its own specialty network, Mayock emerged as one of the names on the short list for the job of NFL Draft analyst.
Programming directors asked Mayock to audition by watching films of college players in action and analyzing their potential as pro prospects.
"They said, `Break it down like you're a pro scout,' " Mayock said. "As the son of a coach, I've been watching tape for a lot of years, so it came very naturally and very easily."
The following day, the NFL Network offered Mayock the draft analyst position.
"They told me I could take the NFL Draft in any direction I wanted and be kind of a one-man scouting operation," Mayock said. "For me, that was kind of like a kid in a candy store. I had access to all this college game tape, and they were telling me I could take it any way I wanted to take it. You give a guy with a Type A personality that type of access ... I couldn't wait to go to work."
Mayock's job is a year-round one that consists of watching game film, speaking frequently with college and NFL scouts, plus scouting the Senior Bowl in December and NFL Combine in February.
"Then it's kind of a mad dash from there to the draft at the end of April," Mayock said. Mayock has established himself as one of the game's most thorough and accurate draft analysts. But he accepts the fact his reads will not always be universally accepted.
"With today's Internet, it is kind of funny," Mayock said. "A couple of years ago, when I was first starting to do this, my son (Michael, now a freshman defensive back at Villanova) would take it kind of personally when people didn't like what I had to say. I had to tell him just to calm down. You can find a whole lot of opinions out there if you look for them. You just have to be professional and not worry about it."
Mayock looks forward to this weekend, when Boston College plays host to North Carolina. Tar Heel head coach Butch Davis is a close friend from their days of working together at the NFL Network, but Mayock's heart will always be with his alma mater - and for reasons that go beyond football.
"You couldn't just skate through academically," Mayock said. "When I look back at the guys I entered school with as freshmen and where they are now, the thing I am most proud of is that they are good people, good fathers, good husbands, good in their communities. I am really proud of the fact that the university demanded that we become well-rounded individuals."