Wednesday, December 21, 2011

When did the BC fanbase's perception change on bowls?

BC's not in a bowl this year and I sort of miss it. Bad BC football is better than no BC football. While I think that most BC fans would watch any BC bowl game, I think any pride or passion related to our string of bowls is long gone. This morning I started to wonder when that changed.

Even if we didn't travel in droves, BC fans used to get excited about bowl games. I think they lost their luster to us as the number of bowls increased and some of the destinations and opponents left a lot to be desired. That travel apathy then started to hurt BC's reputation, which then started a vicious cycle of getting sent to even worse bowl games.

If you go back through BC's bowl timeline, I think things turned south with Detroit. Let's look back and see if you agree...

1940 Cotton Bowl
1941 Sugar Bowl
1943 Orange Bowl

These three were the pinnacle of BC's Bowl history. It was such a different time and place, I don't think fan interest is relevant to BC's current football program.

1982 Tangerine Bowl
1983 Liberty Bowl
1985 Cotton Bowl

The Flutie era bowl games are also of a different time and place. While not as prestigious as the BC Bowls in the 1940s, we still faced elite programs and had one of the most exciting offenses in college football. Most BC fans cared about these games.

1986 Hall of Fame Bowl

The Hall of Fame game is an interesting comparison to our current issues. It was post-Flutie and a bit of a bounce back year. We played a elite team in a typical bowl destination. BC did travel well and fan interest was good. If we were to bounce back next year and end up in a decent bowl game, I question if our fans would respond like the BC fans did in 1986.

1993 Hall of Fame Bowl
1994 Carquest Bowl
1994 Aloha Bowl

These were the Coughlin/Henning era bowls. 1993 was a big year for BC and we showed up for the Bowl. The Carquest was a major letdown after fumbling away the Sugar Bowl with the loss to West Virginia. BC fans didn't really show up. I always felt the Aloha Bowl under its older form was the perfect bowl game for BC. It was an appealing destination for the players, it usually had a good opponent, it was the only game on Christmas Day and we were never expected to bring fans.

1999 Bowl
2000 Aloha
2001 Music City Bowl

For TOB's first bowls we did not travel. Random dates and locales made this understandable. Yet the opponents and the excitement of being back in the bowls made most BC fans still care about these games.

2002 Motor City Bowl

In my opinion, the Motor City Bowl changed it all. We played Toledo. The game was a weekday after Christmas. Our casual fans started asking "we are playing who? In Detroit?" Any reward or excitement about being in a bowl was gone. Fans watched but no one cared.

2003 San Francisco Bowl
2004 Continental Tire Bowl
2005 MPC Computers Bowl
2006 Meineke Car Care Bowl
2007 Champs Sports Bowl
2008 Music City Bowl
2009 Emerald Bowl
2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Three trips to San Francisco. Two to Charlotte. A trip to Disney World and to the Blue turf thrown in. Some of these games were actually very fun and memorable, but none of them did anything the general fanbase's attitude towards bowls.

I would love to see BC champion a playoff. It would be a much better system for a school like us, but in the meantime, I just want BC back in a bowl. My fear is that if Spaz is the coach to return us to a lower-tier bowl, fans will care even less.


Goberry said...

You hit the nail on the head regarding it being about the number of bowls. There is no reason to get excited about playing in a bowl that exists only so that ESPN has mid December programming to air.

BaldEagle90 said...

I can recall folks being psyched for the 86 Hall of Fame Bowl. The first time I heard any one dumping on a bowl was the "Carjack Bowl" in 1994. I think even that was on New Year's though (was it - 11am?).

Our move to the ACC and proliferation of bowls made the whole thing a sham. Silly bowls and regardless of BC's record they were going to get the 4th or 5th ACC tie in. Nashville. December. Really? The weather is the same in Boston. Who cares.

mod34b said...

You are right - the Toledo and Boise-Blue bowls were really big turn offs in almost everyway. However, the Kraft Hunger Bowls were pretty exciting -- just too far away for fans to travel to. I think the Kraft Bowls were good TV exposure for BC. The others -- not so much.


"I would love to see BC champion a playoff. It would be a much better system for a school like us"

We already do have something like a playoff.

If we win our division, and win the ACCCG, we are in a BCS. BC can win to play.

But, to borrow a Spaz-ism, when BC is middle-schmiddle, a playoff system won't help BC. The Playoff system is only going to be for the top 4-8-16 teams, not the middle-schmiddle.

So when BC is 7-5, 8-4, 9-3, or 9-4, it won't be going to the BCS and it won't be going to any playoff.
Instead, medicority will be rewarded with mediocrity. It will be just like today -- BC would go to a very bad "meh" bowl that will never draw big BC crowds.

same old, same old

Tim said...

Options for seeing a BC game away from Alumni Stadium:

1. Travel to Clemson, Florida State, or other southern destinations and enjoy warm weather. Travel to Virginia Tech or Notre Dame and enjoy a great game-day experience. Travel to Maryland and visit our nation's capital. Plan any of these trips months in advance and get great airfares.

2. Take time away from family at Christmas, travel to Boise, Detroit, San Francisco, or other cold destinations in mid-winter. Take time off work, as games are often on weekdays. Book plane tickets no more than a few weeks in advance (during the busiest travel time of the year) and get throttled by high airfares. Endure inevitable weather-related travel delays.

Is this really a tough decision?

The Sean McMahon said...

I think if BC played a bowl in NY, Toronto or Foxboro the fans would come out regardless of opponent. But to travel during the busiest travel time, mid week, at a time a lot of people aren't allowed to take off work, to less than ideal vacation venues, for a made for ESPN bowl hurts BC. Gene has also let a sense of apathy sweep over every sport other than hockey.

chicagofire1871 said...

BC fans don't show up in Alumni. It's not just the bowl or the destination, but something is breeding apathy in the fanbase. Maybe it's GDF. Maybe we all have to look in the mirror and figure that out.

Tim said...

Chicagofire raises a good point. I think the "something" that's "breeding apathy in the fanbase" is the fact that our football program is consistently mediocre. Attendance was not a problem in 2007.

This goes way beyond football, too. Our basketball attendance is usually pretty poor, which reflects the team's consistent mediocrity (though, like football, bball is occassionally above average and attendance can spike upward at those times).

Meanwhile, we currently have the highest attendance of all eastern hockey programs by a mile (the next closest, BU, averages about 1,000 people less per game). Not coincidentally, we're a perennial power in hockey.

Put a good team on the field/floor/ice and fans show up.

Mr. Tambourine MAn said...

Definitely has a lot to do with the time of year. I went to every pre-2008 bowl, but once I was done with grad school and college, I just don't have the time to take off after Christmas to go. There are priorities, and when you add up the cost of travel, lodging, tickets, and then add in vacation days with locations that aren't that exciting, well, you don't end up going.

EL MIZ said...

i agree with bald eagle and Tim; is it really that surprising given the current outrageous proliferation of bowls? i graduated BC in 08 so granted my perception is skewed but back in the day making a bowl meant the season was pretty good. now, teams that go 6-6 make bowls, and as previously mentioned, it is often on short notice to a destination that is completely undesirable.

i drove to the tire bowl with some friends my freshman year and that was great; it was 65 degrees on december 30th. other years, however, like the boise bowl game, who is going to fly to boise to go to a completely meaningless exhibition game?

if BC made an orange bowl, i'd fly down to see the team. it'd mean something to be there. if they played within an hour drive or where i currently live (or plan to be for the holidays), i'll go. but buying a plane ticket and traveling during the holiday season to go see if BC can get win #8 is completely pointless.

bobble said...

It's not going to get any better for BC when the newest BCS is passed. It sounds like there will be no auto bids for BCS games and all bowls will be free to choose as they wish.

West-Coaster said...

BC has had multiple opportunties to secure a BCS bid in the last decade, losing each time. Get there just once and things might have changed. Alas, we are further away from that happening than ever before. And the last couple of bowl perfomances have been sad. So why go out of your way to attend an utterly anticlimactic event?

J Mac said...

I went to the Tire Bowl when I was in undergrad and 'it was cool. I think the apathy goes beyond bowls, watching a game at Alumni is boring she your not in the superman section...tailgating is suspect, few good fan traditions and it's almost sent if we aren't playing VT, ND, FSU, or Miami. There need to be some serious work done by our AD and the PR department.

Lenny Sienko said...

When we went to the Cotton Bowl with Flutie, that was still a major bowl. BC led "...the greatest movement by air from New England since WWII...".

Even with lousy weather, we rerouted our flight to DFW, stayed in the Aflac Towers, and, along with 1000's of BC fans had a great time. BC people were everywhere. We packed the hotels, restaurants, bars, with masses of Maroon & Gold clad fans.

Game Day weather was snow and ice...unusual for Dallas. They had no plows or sanders, no salt for those elevated freeways. OMG what a mess driving back for the game in a rented Lincoln Continental--my compact rental; but that's another story.

This whole "...don't travel..." business came around after they doubled the number of bowls and held them in places nobody can reach easily by air.

If we ever get to a BCS Bowl, I'll be there; but for these low-rent events, I'll stick to my big screen.

#fireSpaz #fireGDF

canttakeit said...

Tangarine, Liberty and cotton-BC travelled. Orlando was crazy with BC fans. In Dallas they were so unprepared for all the BC fans they ran out of beer.

Also travelled well to Carquest Bowl under Coughlli. I think we lost interest following the humiliating loss to the Cuse You need to make to a big bowl every once in a while. It gets the fans out and when they have a great time they will go to another. I also think the atmosphere at Alumni has taken the wind out of the football sail. The passionate fans are getting old. The fans that travelled for Flutie bowls are now in their 60-70s. I think we lost many of them with pay for seating. They were the 40-50 yardline guys that are not there any more.

Big Jack Krack said...

Some Bowl memories - Flutie era - These were fun times to be a BC fan for sure:

1982 Tangerine Bowl (December 18, 1982) Auburn Tigers (SEC) 33 v. Boston College Eagles (Ind) 26

I took my family to this game - First bowl game in 40 years – nice matchup, billed as two programs on the rise. We had Flutie and Auburn had Bo Jackson.

I think it was a sell-out or close to it - 52,000 at the time (now 70,000 Citrus Bowl); I also think that about 15,000 to 20,000 fans took the trip from Boston. We Bostonians and BC fans from all over had a ball in Orlando - parades/bands (yes, we brought our band and Golden Girl), Church St. Station rallies for both schools (every time they yelled War Eagle, we yelled War Surplus) - Disney World at Christmas, half decent weather, swimming pools at the hotels, football - what else could a northerner want just before Christmas? :-)

1983 Liberty Bowl (December 29, 1983) ND 19 – BC 18
Great matchup, but a crappy bowl. BC got screwed - we were 9 and 2 with victories over Clemson, Penn State and Alabama. It turned out to be perhaps the coldest weather week for a bowl game in history - Memphis, Tennessee; game time temperatures hovering around 10 degrees and a wind chill factor of zero (it was like that all week - thank goodness I did not go);

Flutie; Brennan, Phalen and Gieselman and DeOssie vs Blair Keil, Allen Pinkett, Alvin Miller and Chris Smith. We would have killed ND except for the temperature - really hurt our offensive attack.
Attendance announced as 38,229

1985 Cotton Bowl January 1, 1985 Attendance 67,381 (weather very cold with sleet and snow by game’s end) Boston College 45 Houston 28

The biggest airlift from Boston since WWII – 20,000 fans, Weather in Dallas was nice upon landing and deteriorated rapidly downhill from there. Pressure was on BC and Heisman Trophy Winner Flutie - nobody cared much about Houston When the Cougars closed to 31 to 28 in the 3rd period, BC did not fold, but on the contrary showed our toughness. I have never been so cold at a football game as I was in Dallas, TX - we weren't dressed properly and many people brought the blankets from the hotel with them. Stradford, Strachan and Romanowski saved the day.

I remember thinking “Thank God we won, because I wouldn’t have wanted to come to Dallas only to file out of the Cotton Bowl in the sleet after a loss.

Verdict - Tangerine Bowl was the best - great matchup and destination. I would think twice about ever returning to Dallas in Late December/early January - and I still wouldn't go to Memphis for a football bowl game.

dixieagle said...

We left our 2 little girls with their grandparents and flew to Dallas for the Flutie Cotton Bowl. It was the single most amazing football experience I've ever had; thousands of rabid and proud BC fans everywhere, despite hideous, freezing weather.

I sure miss those days.

Big Jack Krack said...

I didn't get to go to Tampa in 1986, but was glued to the TV, along with BC fans everywhere. This turned out to be one of the most exciting games you could imagine.

After years of trying to land a college bowl game for the Tampa Bay area, The Hall of Fame Bowl (now Outback Bowl) kicked-off its first game in Tampa Stadium with Boston College and Georgia - Both teams were 8 and 3 in the regular season.

The inaugural game two days before Christmas would prove to be one of the most exciting ever witnessed by those who weathered the rainy night (BC had some tough weather for its bowl games in the 80's).

The Bowl hoped to get Florida, but they lost their last ganme to Kentucky to finish at 6 and 6.

The Bulldogs started the scoring with a James Jackson touchdown run, but BC countered with a pair of field goals and TDs for 20 unanswered points as the weather didn't seem to bother the Eagles passing offense.

The second half was all Georgia, however, as a Jacobs field goal and an 81 yard interception return by Gary Moss made the score at 20 to 17 after three periods.

Another Jackson TD early in the fourth period regained the lead for the Bulldogs.

Then with time running out Boston College regrouped to mount one final drive, and with just 32 seconds remaining, quarterback Shawn Halloran connected with Kelvin Martin in the end zone to steal the win from the Bulldogs.

Halloran finished 31 of 52 for 316 yards and Martin caught 9 passes for 98 yards. Troy Stradford added 122 yards on the ground.

Weather note - One thing that bowl organizers could not control was the weather. It rained all day, and continued to rain through the evening, which put a damper on the walk-up crowd. Official attendance was 41,000, which was the number of tickets distributed, but the actual number of people in the stands was around 25,000. The weather canceled plans for a halftime concert by James Brown, the Godfather of Soul.

The game itself turned out to be an exciting back-and-forth contest.

Quote of the day - Coach Bicknell said of the victory, "What this means is we can line up and play with anyone."

Hey Frank Spaziani - Howaya?

Big Jack Krack said...

Do you think Jim Turner could have helped us?

Turner gets Texas Tech OL Coaching Job

Turner comes to Texas Tech after a four-year stint in College Station where he molded one of the best offensive lines in college football. This past season, his group led the nation in fewest sacks allowed as the Aggie line surrendered only eight over the course of a 12-game regular season. The offensive line also paved the way for the Aggies to boast the nation’s 21st-ranked rushing attack.

Turner worked with the Boston College staff as offensive line coach in 2007.................and we know the rest of the story.

A native of Braintree, Massachusetts, Turner was a three-year letterman and two-year starter for Coach Jack Bicknell at Boston College as a fullback.

He played in three bowl games, the Liberty, Cotton and Hall of Fame. His senior season he was named a team captain.

JBQ said...

This year, there were 35 bowl games. The system is self destructing. It is mentioned that 20K fans travelled for Flutie. What a great measure of devotion for a freezer bowl game. It can be done. However, you have to market a great product and it doesn't work with a lemonade salesman. Frank Leahy had fire and enthusiasm. The other Frank doesn't have either. Strangely, he had it as a d.c. Someone has to have "Great Expectations" and to tell GDF and WPL that "Ever to Excell" actually means what it says. Nothing more, nothing less! So far, Gerard Phelan hasn't dropped one pass in the replay and David Gordon's left footed kick still has not gone wide right.

mod34b said...

BJK -- Turner sounds like he would have been a great addition to BC. Too bad he has been here and knows the deal.

I am sure for most guys trying to make a career out of coaching, nobody -- and I mean NOBODY -- with any future will come to work with Spaz and his clown master GDF. Why come stain your resume with a big gooey stinking SPAZ right on your list of 'accomplishments'?

Look at the supposed youg hot shots we have: Ryan Day and Sean Devine. Both those guys have horrible resumes now, and look to be bascially unable to get work elsewhere (why else would they stay??).

And, your favorite topic Jack, look at Tranquil. I am guessing Spaz hired that turd because no one else with any expereince would work with Spaz and/or GDF.

So let's add to the long list of reason to fire Spaz and GDF:

86. Unable to attract and hire hire calibre assistant coaches

mod34b said...


86. Unable to attract and hire high calibre assistant coaches

eagle96 said...

I attended the cotton bowl as an 11 year old with my father and four older brothers, one who was at bc at the time.

I echo all the other comments on how that was among the coldest games I ever attended. Before the game my father made a trip to sears where we bought blankets...even with the blankets I still remember shivering with my brothers.

Also remember how much maroon and gold was on the streets of Dallas leading up to the game--every where you went there were bc fans.

William said...

College football is the only sport that gets worse as the season ends.

The bowls are pointless, I like college football but I might watch 1 non championship BCS bowl. They just don't matter

hsk said...

The Cotton Bowl was definitely the best experience, and we had more than 20k in Dallas because folks came from everywhere not just the airlift from Boston.... but unfortunately the "game day experience" we all refer to was so much better back then on Chestnut Hill, and that experience is what drives any excitement for other contests, wherever they may be. Today's experience is horrific, depressing. I don't know how many times I have gone to a game over the past five years that while walking or driving to campus you would never know a football game was about to begin. Accepting the fact that we have never been a rowdy bunch, even in the best of days, but there definitely is less passion and excitement now. It is sad, but perhaps better days lie ahead.

neenan said...

"Accepting the fact that we have never been a rowdy bunch, even in the best of days,"

From around mid 1970s to mid 1980s, the football party was always a blow out and lower campus was wall-to-wall kegs. Lots of alums with hideous 4 panel Cords, whale belts. Football games were a major party. No real restriction on anything. No police presence. Just a very good time.

When the game was over people would roll the kegs on to the T and go to no-names where people would wait for hours and continue the merriment.

I think the change in drinking age around the mid 1980s took a lot of the mayhem out of the parties, the neighbors also put a damper on things.

Big Jack Krack said...

I agree with Tim.

Our season is more interesting than any bowl game - unless we get warm weather and a good matchup - or a BCS Bowl.

What if we were in the Orange Bowl this year on a Wednesday Night, January 4th? Even Clemson and West Virginia fans are balking. You can get $99 tickets through the school, or $18 on Stubhub.

Our goal is to #1 win our division; #2 win the ACCCG and #win the BCS Bowl game.

When you think of it, every ACC game is a playoff game.

Our 2012 schedule is not favorable to a strong year. Still, you can have a lot of fun in Atlanta, as an example. We should never, ever think about bowl games during the year. We must win the ACC - that's our goal. Until then, it's almost meaningless.

We all know that our game-day experience at home must be improved.

hsk said...

Yes Jimmy, I recall the kegs, fondly. As well as listening to the beer bottles crashing through the stands at Alumni during games. I remember tossing beers to the Stanford band from Edmonds. Yes, tailgating went on from the morning to late at night. Good times had by all. I can't imagine that we can blame it all on the alcohol, or lack there of. Did our "perception change" as we became more "Duke like" i.e. "National" and less of a Massachusetts i.e. "local" school ??

Big Jack Krack said...

Good question, hsk.

Cantakeit - you mentioned the loss to Syracuse in 2004, which was terrible - but the loss to WVU after the big victory over ND in 93 was a killer. We were going to the Fiesta Bowl, probably - but ended up against a lousy Virginia team in the Carquest Bowl. Even though it was in Miami, there was an announced crowd of 38,500.

West-Coaster is right - we are now farther away from a major bowl than we have ever been.

All comments are good.

Walter said...

Our lack of caring about bowls is directly attributable to our fan base and it's tepid attitude toward the team. I blame marketing most.

Plenty of big name schools get excited for every bowl they go to, no matter how pathetic. The vast majority of bowl games are pathetic if you're being objective, and yet plenty of them are well attended.

BC doesn't do nearly a good enough job of making the entire student body care about the games or marketing in the New England area. When teams like the Patriots, Celtics, and the Bruins can establish themselves the preeminent team of an entire region, it shouldn't be impossible for us to have respectable showings at home and elsewhere.

We are New England's most credible option for a good football school, but I've never seen BC really try to take advantage of it.

Knucklehead said...

Yankees have the Pinstripe Bowl in the Bronx.

Red Sox don't have a Green Monster Bowl yet in Fenway? I have been anticipating an announcement for two years with the ties between Fenway Sports group and Boston College.

When Bowl eligible BC would sell the game out. It would minimize BC team travel and logging expenses. Really any school would agree to play in Fenway. Even if the weather was cold.

Knucklehead said...

Part of the problem with the Bowls is locations of the games but more so the NAME of the game.

Even the lower tier bowls before 1995 had GREAT names. Liberty Bowl, Tangerine Bowl, Hall of Fame Bowl, Aloha Bowl.

Now it is the "Insert Corporation Name Here" Bowl. Not anti-capitalism but it is lame that everything has been saturated with advertisements.

The only old traditional lower tier bowl that has not sold out is the Sun Bowl in El Paso.

Knucklehead said...

By the way Pitt hired Paul Chryst the Wisconsin O-line coach. He would have been a PERFECT fit for Boston College.

Spaz and Gene are on cruise boat celebrating Christmas in the carribean on the tuition payers dime while the program that employs them is drowning.

Tim said...

"When teams like the Patriots, Celtics, and the Bruins can establish themselves the preeminent team of an entire region"

The Patriots have won multiple Super Bowls in the last decade, the Red Sox have won multiple World Series titles, and the Bruins are the defending Stnley Cup champions. I think it's fair to say that kind of success encourages stronger fan support.

What has BC won?

canttakeit said...

Has anyone noticed the UMAss hire?
He has a tough job, but will get help from running an exciting offense. They could be a bigger challenge than UConn in the future

Erik said...

Over the past 20 years we've learned that UConn does what it takes to be successful in sports, all sports. UMass cuts corners on $$ whenever possible. UConn has the entire state of CT's support. UMass has less support than BC does because even a high % of their students & alumni don't watch games.

I don't see UMass making any big strides.

mod34b said...

Knucklehead - Chryst is not Wiscosin's O-line coach. He is their very successful Offensive Coordinator, and is highly sought by many teams.

Under Chryst, Wisconsin averaged 44.6 points, fourth best in the nation, and 467 yards per game this season.

This is an awesome hire for Pitt. Too bad BC can NOT get someone like this.

Tim said...

In other news, our special teams coach just resigned.

Can't wait to hear the wild rumors and conspiracy theories about this one.

Knucklehead said...
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Knucklehead said...
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Knucklehead said...

Chryst or Tim Murphy are the two people that I been asking for Gene hire all year. Now we have to play against Chryst/Pitt. He is perfect for a run first Northeast pro-style offense. He was the absolute Perfect fit for BC. Pitt will not have to pay that much for him either, relatively speaking.

Big Jack Krack said...

One final thought for now on Bowl Games, etc.

We didn't have the glut of TV coverage in the 80's. Therefore there was much more anticipation and it was exhilerating in many ways.

While it is nice to be able to watch games on widescreen tv's, ESPN, CBS, ABC, Fox, etc dictate the times and dates.

This year the schedule is a disaster in my opinion - for fans travelling to the games.

Rose Bowl 5:00pm Monday Jan. 2nd.
Fiesta Bowl 8:00pm Monday Jan. 2nd
Sugar Bowl 8:30pm Tuesday Jan. 3rd
Orange Bowl 8:00pm Wed Jan 4th
Cotton Bowl 8:00pm Friday Jan 6th
Championship 8:00pm Monday Jan 9th

It's a two-edged sword. TV has created more wealth for leagues and programs = updated facilities, etc; on the other hand, it adds to the apathy and certainly has an impact on stadium attendance for bad matchups and lousy bowl destinations, etc.

Tim said...

Bowl games also mean less now that major conferences have title games. For example, in 2007 I went to the ACCCG, but skipped the Champs Bowl.

Bravesbill said...

The Cotton Bowl and the Holiday Bowl haven't sold out just yet either.