Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Bandbox off Beacon Street

I think it is time to appreciate Alumni Stadium for what it is: the surprising House of Horrors for visiting college football teams. It happened again Saturday night when USC players kept mentioning the stadium in their post-game comments. In this Oral History of the 2001 Miami Hurricanes, the greatest team in college football history admits that there is something flukey about playing at Alumni.

Davenport: It's cold, I don't know if it's the Boston chowder that we eat at the hotel, but we're always just sluggish when we come out.
Randy Shannon (defensive coordinator): It was just ... Boston. Even when I (coached) with Dennis Erickson, it was always the same. For some rhyme or reason, we couldn't figure it out.
Coker: What I really think it was, was perception. We didn't perceive Boston College as being a Florida State or Florida or Penn State or one of those types of schools. Right or wrong, that was the perception.
Curtis Johnson: You never stay near the stadium. The bus ride in, it looks like -- this isn't a knock on their stadium, because it's a great stadium -- but it doesn't appear what you would expect it to be as far as a major college football stadium. It's not like you're going into Florida State. You just don't see it as being, that kind of stadium.

All the key ingredients are there. Teams don't take us seriously. The setting and environment are different from other venues. The weather can be an issue too. Obviously the better BC is, the tougher the game at Alumni can be, but even when we are not as good, something about the Stadium can make a difference.

A few of my pet theories are the proximity of the stands to the benches. In other stadiums the team benches are sometimes 20 yards away and 12 feet down from the nearest seat. At Alumni, the benches are closer to five yards away and fans can lean over the railings and practically touch players. If a favored team is frustrated, I am sure the tension is ratcheted up with BC fans breathing down your neck.

Then there is impact Alumni's design has on the opponents. We know Alumni is closed on both ends with a low upperdeck. This can make the 44,500 seats feel much closer than they actually are. The all aluminum seating also creates louder than expected noise.

In the Miami article TOB champions the weather issue as well. Depending on the opponent and the time of year, New England weather can be a factor in any game at Alumni. Traditionally our September games can be surprisingly hot, our October games are often wet and November games are cold. Sure our players also have to deal with the elements, but when you're on the road and in a dogfight, bad weather doesn't raise spirits.

The USC players talked about the travel. Obviously that is another issue that varies by opponent, but being a long trip never hurts our cause as the home team.

To ever get a national homefield reputation like Blacksburg or Boise, we will need to rattle off some long home win streaks or upset a bunch of ranked teams. But until then, I am happy that our little stadium keeps surprising our opponents.


SectionKK said...

Thank you. I always feel like I'm in the minority in liking Alumni. Sure it's lacking in amenities (though the new video boards and sound system helps) and it's not huge, but I still think it's a great place to see a game. There really are no bad seats. We had season tickets in the upper endzone for almost 10 years before moving to the sideline and loved that view. Let's also not forget how luck we are to have a true on campus stadium, especially considering where BC is located. BC could very easily have used all of that land for something else and we could have ended up like Pitt, Miami, etc. And yes, it was very, very loud in there on Saturday.

twballgame9 said...

Surprised TOB mentioned the cold weather. Thought he only blamed humidity.

Hoib said...

Section KK

Agree w/ everything you said. It's so much more fun than a pro stadium w/ all the distractions, and upper deck seating where you feel like you're in a different time zone. It's a little like Cameron for hoops. Teams certainly hate to go there.

I think Daz's style of offense suits our weather perfectly.

Cadoheny said...

Nothing beats Lou Holtz blaming ND's loss in 1994 on the poor depth perception in Alumni.

JDK said...

ATL love the post. I recall reading comments from the VA Tech players saying that BC was the toughest place to play in the ACC during the Ryan years.

Claver2010 said...

Agreed, I like Alumni.

Let's work on filling the 44,500 (even though it's larger than that). With the proximity of seats, architecture & aluminum throughout it can get pretty loud (as it did on Saturday).

BarraCuda said...

I remember Michigan State players mocking Alumni Stadium as being akin to a high school stadium before a game in the early 90's (I don't remember if it was pre or post-renovation; my guess is the former), but after they lost 14-0 they didn't say too much.

JBQ said...

I have been to the campus once. The campus is beautiful with the Heights dominating. The stadium sits wedged in a corner just across from the reservoir. That is why it is so cold. I walked down from the Green Line after taking the train in from New York. The Green Line trip is beautiful. It sort of "dead ends" at BC. Actually, the Jesuits did great things with the small amount of land on a bunch of hills. Tail gating in a parking garage. Come on now. ND has a big open field for such. Tennessee Knoxville sits on a river and seats 110K. You do with what you got and BC did great with what they got. However, some genius in architecture and civil engineering needs to work on improving access to the campus.

Scott said...

This is awesome post, look forward to adding to it over the years