Sunday, December 30, 2007

Yet another BC travel post

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.


Zook said...

Going to the game in Orlando really was great fun. I was disappointed that BC wasn't in a better bowl but I can't imagine that I could have had a better time at even the best of the bowl games. I loved connecting with other BC fans and met lots of MSU fans as well (my wife, an MSU graduate, was anxious to connect with MSU alumni). And, as a BC band parent, I enjoyed following the band around to different venues. All in all, it was a wonderful week in Orlando.

Eagle65 said...

Took the bus from Tampa. Sat around player's parents. Close to field. BC tailgate was excellent. Wife shook hands with Tim Russert and Fr. Leahy.

ToTheHeights said...

Are we talking about the Marriott Downtown Orlando or the Marriott closer to the airport?

I stayed with a couple of 07 grads at the Marriott Downtown Orlando. We walked everywhere, including to the game, and were able to enjoy the Orlando nightlife on Wall Street and Orange Ave. Definitely a great time and the price of beers was also a refreshing change($2).

In hindsight I probably would have taken a cab to the citrus bowl. When you leave the heart of downtown, Church street drops off pretty quickly and seems pretty dangerous.

We were shocked by the amount of BC fans at the game. The Orlando bars were virtually empty Thursday night and there were only a few pockets of BC fans throughout the city Friday before the game. I am still wondering where everyone came from.

I have nothing but good things to say about the Champs Sports Bowl. I would recommend this bowl to anyone and I will definitely go back in the future. Orlando>Jacksonville>Atlanta

Brian said...

I traveled to the bowl. Had a great time. The company was what made the trip great.

I stayed at the Marriott Downtown Orlando and agree with totheheights. Even if it looks like a short walk to the Citrus Bowl, by no means should you walk it. The Citrus Bowl is in a really crummy area of Orlando. We tailgated for most of the day in Lot A and there were a lot of homeless stopping by, asking for beer, wanting to toss around our football, etc.

If I had to do it again, I would have tailgated much less at the stadium and only showed up a few hours before game time.

Also, the Citrus Bowl is in really crummy condition. They are supposedly putting $175 million into the stadium but it has no team (UCF moved out in 2006). What I find even more curious is for the condition the stadium is in, they are the only city in the country to host two bowl games (Citrus and the Capital One bowl).

I definitely would encourage everyone to go to the bowl every year, but personally I wouldn't be sad if they moved the Champs Sports Bowl again or if the ACC changed their bowl tie-ins to another location.

Go BC!

Chizdog66 said...

I echo everyone's comments. Just got back home from a great trip to FL. Definitely the best bowl trip I've taken (my 5th). Dragged my reluctant wife down, and she is now ready for the next one. I keep telling my buds that they have no idea how much fun they are missing by waiting for "the big one". As we were waiting our flight back to Boston at the gate in Orlando this morning, the gate attendant asked the "Flutie party" to come to the ticket counter. About 40 people suddenly turned around to look over at the counter. The woman at the counter couldn't figure why everyone was looking over towards her. It was hilarious...

amartin said...

had a great time as well

amartin said...

Im obsessed with the attendance so here goes: I took a picture of the BC section from the open end of the endzone. but I wasn't able to get the entire section. from my picture however, and based on the Citrus Bowl website, its obvious BC filled AT LEAST, again, i couldn't get the entire side of the field, sections 204-209 if not more, and 103-109. Citrus Bowl website shows that sections207-209 have 38 rows and 32 seats per row, so 1216 fans per section. 205 and 206 combined were abou the same as 207, so another 1216 fans. that's almost 5,000 right there. sections 107-109 had 29 rows by 32 seats, so that's 928 seats. BC easily filled those as wel as 103-105 which were smaller. so that's at least another 4k right there. and my picture doesn't capture anything left of the band or much beyond the 45 yds line. there were certainly some non-BC fans sprinkled in, but there were also a good # of fans beyond the 50, including a nice little section of fans in the closed endzone. so don't let anyone tell you there were less than 10k BC fans there...

John said...

Chiz....the noon AirTran flight back to Boston?? I was on that and heard her call the 6 or so memebers of the Flutie family also...very funny.

Great time, everyone should try and get to a bowl game even if its not the big one. Most teams dont make a bowl game every year like we have been lucky enough to do lately, and most teams definitely do not have the record we have over the past 10 years.

ATL_eagle said...

I was talking about the Marriott World Center near Epcot. That was the team hotel. After the game it was packed. Good to know that BC fans were in other parts of town too.

I would love to go to the Gator Bowl one day from a prestige standpoint and obviously would like the Peach, but the Champs is a better location and destination than either of those two.

Big Jack Krack said...

Well, I didn't make this game (because of other pre-arranged travel plans - as luck would have it Miami would have fit in), but I was there in spirit. Glad to hear that BC had a good turnout - it certainly looked that way on TV. Jacksonville was weird from a numbers point of view.

I heard that the attendance was a Champs Sports Bowl record - so this may bode well for BC's reputation.

Just sitting here doodling, and thinking that wouldn't it be great if this was just the beginning of the football program's status of perrenial ACCCG contender? We'll get to the Gator, Peach and Orange Bowls - but I agree - Orlando is a great destination spot. The win over MSU was hard fought and a good win for BC - those guys were tough! It would be great if we finished in the Top 10.

As we have mentioned, the defense will pave the way next year. As the Boston Herald reported "Brian Toal will return from his redshirt season to bolster the linebacker corps that also includes Robert Francois, who has gotten a lot of experience the last two years.

Up front, the Eagles will be stout again in the middle, with Ron Brace coming back and B.J. Raji returning from academic ineligibility, presuming neither decides to test the draft waters. In the secondary, the Eagles will lose two big playmakers in Silva and Tribble, but true freshman DeLeon Gause showed some promise, while strong safety Paul Anderson made a confidence-boosting interception to seal Friday’s win.

Fellow safety Marcellus Bowman should be a factor, as should Wes Davis, who played so well as a true freshman last year but missed most of this season with a neck injury. And sophomore cornerback Roderick Rollins made a case for playing time." We could go on and on - but we get the picture.

The future looks bright. What offense will we run next year? That's what makes the anticipation so much fun!

flutie22phelan20 said...

This from Peter King's Monday Morning QB:

"I think I wouldn't be surprised if Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski gets a feeler or two by NFL teams. He's on a few teams' radars."

I certainly have a conflicted response to that one. It's nice to finally have a coach who is recognized by others in his profession as a top-flight coach. I still would have prefered not to read that though.

Alex L. said...

I think it's too early for Jags to leave, even for an NFL team (which I think we all agree that is where he would go). Maybe in another 2 or 3 seasons it will become an issue, but not now.

Big Jack Krack said...

Coach Jags seems to be very genuine to me. He says he is right where he wants to be, and I have no reason to be skeptical.

He has 4 or 5 children, including one child with special needs. Boston College is the best environment for him and his growing family. I guess it will get interesting, but I think he'll stay and continue to be a winner.

I don't think he's using this as a building block.

I was wrong once before - it was on a Tuesday, 4 years ago, and it was raining.......! :)

Ben said...

Atl - how about a column this off-season that starts a conversation about what the BC community (school and fans) can do better to foster the sort of environment we enjoy so much down south? I know those of us that travel down there love the atmosphere, but are frustrated that certain realities about BC keep us from emulating that environment at The Heights. However, there could be some changes in policy that might change that: a good look at BC's ticket/seating policies, tailgating policies, and town-gown relations could make for an intersting discussion.

Thanks - and Go BC!

xu9697 said...

Travel to see BC= come to Cleveland!!!!!

Big Jack Krack said...

Hey Ben - good suggestion. I have to put myself back in the mindset of when tailgating on Shea Field was very important to me. Having said that, the Athletic Department, perhaps, needs to communicate with each season ticket holder about tailgating opportunities and the importance of getting into the seats early.

The school needs to begin encouraging early participation more and more. At the same time, perhaps the school needs to take an active role in helping fans redefine their traditional tailgates into something else. It's tough to have good tailgaiting with such limited space in unfriendly neighborhoods. That's one reason we can't be Clemson or most of these other schools. The other thing about tailgating is the fans need to get into their seats. It's not about getting pleasantly drunk before the game - and that is what has to change in everyone's mindset.

BC really looks bad at the start of every game with many empty seats - even for big ACC games that are later in the afternoon or at night. What's the excuse? I always went in early to see the band and support the the whole experience - even in my wild beer-drinking days! Have the "fun" after the game, for goodness sake.

I know that the 2 hour limit is an issue, but that's the agreement with the neighbors. Perhaps with better communication, the BC "5-0" can back off with the heavy handedness in clearing everyone out (of Shea Field - which won't be available much longer anyway.)

Perhaps the BC pre and post game tailgate has to be redefined (and accepted) as an indoor experience - I have no idea what I'm talking about.

I am buying 2 season tickets for 08 and I live 1000 miles away. (we're going to 1 or 2 "home" games per year) I will only give these 50 yard line tickets away to my daughter or others if they promise to show up early or at least on time to show their support.

Bosgal33 said...

I have to confess I am not the biggest fan, and go to games more to hang out with friends and family. I have to say we really had a great time at the game, drove up from South of Orlando just a few hours before the game and had a great time tailgating. Given how much we enjoyed this game, we'd definitely travel for most other bowls within reason (Idaho isn't the easiest place to get to!!). BC had an awesome crowd out there, who were treated to a great and well played, albeit less well officiated, game. I only have one request of the BC fans, get up and make some noise for the defense on EVERY play, not just on third down!

Michael said...

Some suggestion if the athletic department is reading:

1. Need to better publicize the before and after events. The official program probably mentioned something, but we really only care about BC stuff.

2. Need a detailed map of BC tailgate areas. The parking was crazy considering a not full stadium.

3. ACC needs to get Orlando to put some money into that stadium. Made Alumni look awesome.

4. Have some sort of event in Disney that kids can attend.

Nice win, nice season.

sanjoseeagle said...

Great time! This was my first bowl game and I am hooked now! Even if we are in Boise next year, I'm very interested in going again. If I could've changed anything in Orlando, it'd have been the car situation there. Given that game time coincided with rush hour, it took my family and me over 90 minutes to go 1 mile down Church St. Nuts! How about some traffic planning people! You made getting out of Foxboro look like a dream!

Katie said...

This was my first bowl game as well, though I did go to the Citrus Bowl parade in 1997 when my brother was in the UF band - Go Gators! Amartin, I was in section 210 which was full of Eagles, as was section 211.

I lived in Orlando for 12 years, so here's my take on the Citrus Bowl. Yes, it's old. But how many things in Orlando can really be classified as old? It's a a bridge to a simpler time before Disney, when Orlando was just a sleepy little citrus town. It's unpretentious and quirky like its hometown, even if the escalators can only handle ten people at a time. The surrounding neighborhood (Parramore), though not the safest, depends on the stadium for extra money ($5 per car to park on a front lawn adds up) and the high school across the street plays its home football games at the Citrus Bowl. The $186 million dollar remodeling will bring the stadium into the 21st century and hopefully keep the two bowls and secure the ACC championship game.

Here is how I think BC needs to change its approach to football:

1. When promoting bowl game ticket sales, do not put alumni and the general public down at the 3 and 4 spots for availability - it makes people think there might not be any tickets for them.

2. Keep the fans updated on ticket sales and bowl game preparations. Stories on the athletics website would be a great way to do this.

3. We need band-led cheers. It can be as simple as the low brass playing two low notes as half the fans yell "We are" and the cymbals and trumpets play two higher notes as the rest of the fans yell "BC!" over and over. We need to all be yelling the same thing at the same time - having 5 different "let's go Eagles clap clap clap clap clap" with 50 people each all going at different times just sounds bad.

4. Be loud for your team! Intimidate the other team and their fans! Make them regret the day they decided to come play the Eagles!

Hope ya'll had a great visit to my old hometown. Go Eagles!!!