Even explaining this rivalry is a challenge. Half my readers remember it, lived it and know more about it than I do. The other half are still scratching their head at the thought of a heated relationship with Holy Cross. But once upon a time, this was the college football game in New England. Both programs had periods of success. For years games were played at Fenway. Both schools were filled with Catholics from the Boston area. There was a feeling that you knew everyone sitting in the stands, regardless of what team they were rooting for.
The connection was more than just sports and proximity. Both schools are Jesuit and priests often moved back and forth between the institutions. For a long time both schools also prized athletics. But Holy Cross' size and constantly shifting position on sports changed the rivalry and the school.
Being smaller than BC was always a bit limiting, yet Holy Cross had (and still has a large athletic department). But when the first DIA and DIAA split came, Holy Cross went small and BC stayed large. The additional scholarships and larger stage only made the rivalry more lopsided. As Holy Cross moved to no scholarships, it wasn't even a rivalry anymore. The series ended as it was no longer competitive or fair (with HC having no scholarships). And as the sports connection faded, so did the tightness of the other connections. As both schools became more national and had student bodies from beyond Massachusetts, the familiarity and overlap dwindled too.
While I know some individual Holy Cross fans who rehash the "would've, should've, could've" aspects of their sports decisions, I don't know how all their alumni feel. It is clear that their leadership values a future in sports and hence the return to scholarships and the return to playing BC. They are a long way away from being competitive, but I do wish them success. I would love for them to become a FCS power and an semi-regular part of our schedule. The nostalgia and association would help both schools and perhaps grow to something new and exciting. Holy Cross was a critical part of BC history. It would be nice to have it as part of our future.