Column: With Hockey Nearing, Football May Fade
Published: Monday, September 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
After a week off from Boston College football, Superfans can begin the countdown to Saturday when the No. 17 Clemson Tigers march into Alumni Stadium. Looking ahead to a tough start to the season and a scattering of David-and-Goliath matchups looming in the near future for the Eagles football squad, however, some BC fans might prefer to begin a countdown of their own—the countdown to hockey season.
Now you might think I’m getting ahead of myself by bringing up hockey when we haven’t even played Week Four of the football season, and that’s understandable. Yet Jerry York’s Eagles begin the journey to defend their 2012 national title in only a few weeks, officially taking flight in an Oct. 13 regular season opener at Northeastern. Despite losing key pieces from its championship run last season (can we have Chris Kreider back during the NHL lockout, at least?), BC will once again have high expectations under its legendary head coach.
So when the championship banner is hoisted above Kelley Rink before the Eagles’ first home game on Oct. 20, where will our football team be? Well, they’ll already have faced ACC powerhouse Clemson, traveled to Tallahassee to take on a legitimate national title contender in FSU, and will be finishing up a three-game road trip that will make or break their season—all before gearing up to take on a dominant Notre Dame squad at home a couple of weeks later. Sound daunting enough for you?
If things do go south for head coach Frank Spaziani’s team, fans will have the luxury of turning away and being comforted by the sight of Parker Milner and Johnny Gaudreau catalyzing BC on the ice. While BC football has had its share of struggles in recent years, hockey has always been a quick and dependable rebound for Superfans—we have our hearts broken one minute, and our faith in BC athletics restored the next. Perhaps this point brings up a more vital question: Which sport is truly bigger on the Heights?
If we’re judging by recent success, then York’s team definitely has the upper hand. Garnering two Hockey East banners, four Beanpot trophies, and three national championships in the last five years, the Eagles on ice have been one of the most prolific teams in all of college sports, let alone BC. Yet it always seemed that the mystique and awe of college football had the edge over hockey. Maybe it’s the tailgating, the NFL Draft aspirations we have for our favorite players, or the buzz around campus when a powerhouse program visits Alumni Stadium for a nationally televised matchup. Regardless, BC football was always the golden child thrust into the spotlight despite its flaws.
But after a 4-8 campaign and early-season mediocrity so far in 2012, one can only wonder if the attendance at Alumni will grow sparser as the going gets tougher for Spaziani’s team. I, for one, hope this won’t be the case. A college football season is a marathon of ups-and-downs, and the Eagles have an opportunity to address their problems and restore Superfans’ faith in the program. A winning football team on the Heights would not only generate spirit amongst the student body, but also bring much-deserved attention to a top-notch University.
If this summer’s quick sellout of hockey season tickets is any indication of the collective Superfan psyche, however, the tide may be changing. It’s common sense—sports are about winning, and a winner can always depend on its fans. So which of BC’s teams is the “big man on campus”? I’m confident we’ll know our answer when the banner of our latest national champions is raised at Conte Forum next month.