The long speculated, oft-rumored BC Football game in Ireland is finally happening. This is good for BC and good for BC Football. I am excited and I hope you are too. However, there is still a lot of BS surrounding this game. The only thing an Irishman (like myself) enjoys more than spinning a few tales and painting a romantic picture, is being the Irish guy in the corner of the room saying "he's full of s--t." So let's cut through the BS and get to a few truths about the game that you won't read much between now and 2016.
This is about Irish tourism, not BC's connection to Ireland
BC and Boston do have true ties to Ireland. Probably more than any other American school. But that is not why we are playing this game. BC was the first team to play in Ireland (1988) yet we haven't been back since. If these matchups were purely about Irish ties, do you think Pitt, Rutgers, Penn State, Navy and Central Florida would have played since our last game? This is a TV event that will serve as a 3 hour commercial for Ireland. Aer Lingus is the title sponsor. The game only came together because of the Irish government and Irish tourism ministry. Every commercial break will feature bumper shots of Dublin or the country side. Even now, just by reading this post, you are probably going to be served Irish ads on different website. The fact that BC fans have a connection and affinity to Ireland is just gravy for the Irish. Believe me, if Alabama was willing to give up a home date and travel across the Atlantic for a game, they would be there now. Irish ties or not. Heck, BYU will probably get a shot at this game in the near future.
Not many BC fans will travel to this game
I don't know what BC expects, but I predict less than 3,000 BC fans travel to this game. While there was plenty of excitement on social media Thursday morning, I think the realities of the game will limit those who actually go. Think of our turnout at other sporting events in the past ten years, that were easier to get to and less expensive. The once in a lifetime opportunity and the long sales time will help efforts, but for many of our fans time and money will always be an issue. The older, emptynesters of Irish decent will go. They should. Those same people make up the key demographic for Irish tourism. But your younger fan, who is a BC diehard is less likely. I hope that BC grads in Ireland, the UK and Europe turnout, but overall, this will be a neutral crowd that might cheer us on because we're Catholic.
This is a TV event
I already explained it is a big commercial for Ireland, but it is also key TV content for ESPN. It could start at a later and provide a better viewing time for BC and Georgia Tech fans across the country. But ESPN doesn't really care about BC or Georgia Tech fans. They care about college football fans and a 7:30 am ET kickoff time gives them wall-to-wall coverage on the first Saturday of a college football season. The fact that it comes with a natural title sponsor to buy up that commercial time is even better.
This is about recruiting
BC is giving up a home game for this. That is one less chance to host recruits. But they are also getting something to sell and promote. They can use it on the current recruiting class: "come to BC and you will get a trip to Europe!" and something that we can sell to future recruits. Follow any of the twitter feeds of the BC assistant. They are selling Wall Street connections and BC guys in the pros. This will be just another tool to differentiate ourselves. "At BC you'll play on an international stage!" The players that go will enjoy the trip and hopefully get what they can out of the experience of visiting a new country. As long as they come back selling future recruits on all the cool things that go on at BC, the trip will be a success.
If you are excited about going, start supporting BC and the team now
Almost by definition, if you're reading this blog in the offseason you are a BC diehard. And like me you probably know plenty of semi-casual BC fans who watch one game a year and still think Spaz is the coach. Of course many of these same people were quick to post "road trip" on Facebook the minute the Irish announced the game. I hope they go and we need all the support we can get. But if you are thinking of going remember the team will play 12 games this year and could use your support throughout. Watch a non-Notre Dame game. Learn a few players' names. Also, I know plenty of people who think nothing of shelling out $3,000+ for this trip but don't give to BC annually. I don't like telling people what to do with their money, but BC would appreciate even just a nominal donation. It all makes a difference and supports BC in ways that going to Ireland cannot.
Now that I've poked a few holes in the motivations for this game, let me restate how excited I am for the game. I doubt I will go, but love the idea and love any game that has a unique angle. Now I just need to learn "WE ARE BC" in Gaelic.