BC scheduled Howard because that is what Brad Bates and Steve Addazio want. One could point the finger at the ACC's flip-flop on conference games, the ripple effect of Army cancelling a few years ago, the ripple effect of Syracuse becoming a conference game, or the ripple effect of New Mexico State rejoining a conference. It doesn't matter. BC's leaders surveyed all their options and this one made the most sense.
New Mexico State's return date has been on the schedule for a while. However, no one ever really thought it would happen. Once the Aggies rejoined a conference they were left with too many non-conference games. Of their potential games, BC remained their least lucrative and therefore most likely to be cancelled. Brad Bates knew that. BC had time to find a replacement. But none of the solutions made sense.
Solution 1: Play a one off against a Power 5
These games are always available. TV will usually help out in flipping around schedules and most Power 5 programs will gladly buy a game if they don't need a return date. Even recently Tennessee needed a game when UAB folded. This would have been my preference. But I am not AD. BC doesn't need a big payout and doesn't want to set a precedent of not getting return games from peer conferences. Addazio also didn't want to stunt the team's growth by going on the road against heavy weight, especially when we are already playing Notre Dame out of conference
Solution 2: Schedule another one for one with any FBS school
Scheduling one for ones out of the conference isn't that difficult for BC. We are a respectable, but not threatening opponent with a good TV partner in a desirable destination. If Bates calls most programs they will consider future opportunities. The challenge this go-around was finding one who was willing to come to Alumni in 2015.
Solution 3: Buy a game
Every team has its price. BC could have paid some team to come to Alumni for a one off. The problem is that it would have been very expensive. Even with the money from the New Mexico State penalty, it would have been hard for BC to pay SEC dollars to a visitor. We just don't have the ticket revenue. I am sure there were a few eager teams willing to come to BC to beef up their own resume without a blockbuster payday. However, I don't think Addazio wanted test the team like that.
So BC ended up with Howard: a team willing to come to BC at BC's price. The obvious downsides -- outside of losing -- is a disappointed fan base and not getting enough wins for bowl qualification. But the demand for tickets seems to be pretty inelastic. Even with USC and Clemson on the schedule, we didn't sell out Alumni. If we replaced Howard with an Alabama, would Alumni sell out? Would our season tickets packages skyrocket? Probably not. It is going to take a series of things -- including winning -- to improve attendance. The bowl issue could be troublesome but I think BC can politic out of that issue too. If we go 6-6, I think we will still go bowling. There are just so many slots and ESPN remains in our corner. What NCAA team is going to protest if a 6-6 BC team goes to some bottom tier bowl?
Playing two FCS teams is not ideal, but I don't think it will be the norm. BC has scheduling issues ahead, but I think Bates and Addazio will navigate those issues as they try to build a winner.