Leading up to the Champs Bowl, I heard plenty of complaints about our bowl situation. I am equally frustrated and think BC should lead the charge for a full playoff. Until that unlikely day comes we are stuck with the current the ACC bowls. I've done enough brow beating and pleading for BC fans to travel the past two months. Now I'll take a different tact -- selling the merits of travel.
Bowls are fun
Some are more fun than others, but the Champs might be the best of the non-New Years Day games. The players and staff had a really good time. They went to all the parks. Enjoyed the night life and weather. Every BC fan I came across also had a good time. Tailgating in shorts in December can't be beat. And outside of all the bells and whistles of the locale, you still get to see BC play another football game.
Travelling to BC games is fun
I've been to the desirable locations (South Bend, Clemson, etc.) and the miserable (Temple and Rutgers). One thing is consistent -- travelling to see BC play has a different feel than a game at Alumni or watching on TV. The setting and being the few amongst the many provide a unique experience. When on the road there is also the chance to meet and bond with other people who share your passion for BC. You should have seen the lobby of the Marriott after the game. SuperFans everywhere. Players and their families hanging out at the restaurant and bars. People still sitting poolside. You'd be hard pressed to find someone who wasn't smiling and feeling good about BC football. Would we all have preferred to have been celebrating a National Championship or even an Orange Bowl? Of course. But that's not the point. These guys had just accomplished something that no BC team had done in 67 years and when they got back to their hotel there were 1,000+ people welcoming them. It was a fun scene to soak in.
The Champs Bowl might not have been the Flutie Cotton Bowl or beating the 1993 Notre Dame game, but I think it will serve as an important turning point in BC support and travel. The school pulled out all the stops for fans -- charter buses all over Florida, free tickets for students, bringing the band, and most importantly letting the players get down there early and revel in the experience. The game was very well attended. BC had well more fans than the 5,000 tickets sold. Half the lower bowl was wearing maroon and gold. The Champs folks came away with nothing but good things to say. This will be their best attended and highest rated game since the bowl relocated to Orlando.
Teams that supposedly travel well are disappointing this year. West Virginia hasn't sold enough tickets for the Fiesta Bowl. UVA and Texas Tech will play in front of plenty of empty seats at the Gator Bowl. One day BC will get another chance to play in a more meaningful game. Don't wait until then. It doesn't pay to be a bowl snob. You're missing out and so is BC. If you have the time and means and enjoy BC football, hit the road. You won't be disappointed.
If you made it to Orlando and have some thoughts on the experience, please share them in the comments section. Given the number of BC fans I came across in the pregame parking lots and at the Marriott, I know others also had a great time. Spread the word.