Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Do BC fans care about Notre Dame any more?
Notre Dame visited Alumni Stadium for the first time during the fall of my freshmen year (1994). This was less than a year after BC knocked off the then undefeated Irish in South Bend. I don't think there was a bigger game or more campus excitement in my whole time as a student. Notre Dame was still elite and we were still riding the excitement of the Coughlin years. Coughlin successfully leveraged Notre Dame as part of his rebuild. The Catholic aspect and the chance to take down Goliath were easy sells to a fanbase enjoying a post-Flutie football renaissance. Painting Notre Dame as the most important game on the schedule worked so well with fans, recruits and media that BC kept doing it long after Coughlin went to Jacksonville. Now all these years later, I get a sense that BC fans don't care about the game or the rivalry all that much any more.
I don't want to say that the lack of interest is based strictly on BC's current downturn. People cared when we were bad in other years. BC fans still took over the Notre Dame campus in 1997 when TOB's first team was terrible. They still cared when TOB's second team (also a losing one) got stopped on the goal line in the final seconds of the BC-ND game. Even when during Spaz's time, some of the Irish games were intense (remember Gunnell getting in Jimmy Clausen's face?). Yet now I think BC fans have moved on. The Clemson game has become the celebrated road trip to make. Even the causal fan realizes that ACC games are really a better measuring stick for BC's success.
Another reason the game might not mean is much is the lack of frequency. Notre Dame's deal with the ACC actually hurt BC's scheduling. Now instead of playing the Irish annually we will play them about six times every ten years. That keeps Addazio or any future BC coach from using the Irish as a rallying point.
The final reason why BC fans might not care is due to Notre Dame's diminishing brand. I am not trying to be one of those Notre Dame haters. My point is that for years the Irish had a cast of coaches and players that the casual BC fan could identify...and hate. Names like Holtz, Powlus, Jarious Jackson, Davie, Willingham, Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija, Charlie Weis, Jimmy Clausen and Manti Te'o. Kelly is pretty unlikable, but who else is well-known or stands out? Now with so many games accessible, the NBC deal doesn't bring the same level of notoriety. So until the Irish start either winning again at a high rate, losing in epic fashion or see their players do stupid things, they are just a bunch of gold helmets to most BC fans.
I always hated the BC-obsession with Notre Dame. I felt TOB and the Administration used it as a crutch to excuse other failures. Now I would love to see both teams "return to glory", just so there would be some excitement about the game.