Friday, February 20, 2009

Praise the AD for keeping ticket prices flat!? and the Big Finish

Brian: Since we know you all missed him, we'd like to welcome back Jeff to the blog. Welcome back! How does it feel to take the plunge?

Jeff: It feels great. The last week has been awesome but it's nice to be home and finally settling in to a normal routine. The wedding planning and everything did become pretty involved. You're next in another few months, good luck!

Brian: So we have a lot of catching up to do, but before we fully catch you up ... tell us what's on your mind.

Jeff: BC sent out an email today begging season ticket holders to renew their season tickets in these tough economic times. In the email they remind people that they'll be able to renew their tickets in 2010 also for the season that will include the final Notre Dame home game for the next half dozen or so years. They also remind season ticket holders that they are able to purchase tickets to away games for all games except the Notre Dame game next year. Finally, they pat themselves on the back for not raising ticket prices for the 2009 season. Coming off a season where the only packed house was the ND game, how funny is this? With the economy the way it is these days, if the local movie theater raises its prices you stop going to movies, right? Even forget not raising their prices, if they don't have specials and coupons you're not going there for entertainment, right? Why are universities patting themselves on the back for not raising tuition or not raising ticket prices next year? In this nearly deflationary economy, why should we applaud these steps taken by BC or other institutions holding tuition rates flat?

Brian: Well, we shouldn't applaud these school's athletic departments. You're right. It's comical. Specifically for BC, you have to question what season ticket holders are actually paying for next season. Seven home games ... three against Central Michigan, Kent State and Northeastern. All snoozers. Then the ACC home schedule isn't much better - UNC, NC State, Wake Forest and Florida State. Florida State will be a hot ticket, but beyond our game with the Seminoles, I am hard pressed to come up with a solid #2 and #3 game. I guess I'd have to go with #2 NC State and #3 Wake Forest.

However, this is a big drop-off from the dream home slate of Virginia Tech, Clemson and Notre Dame. We probably won't see another home slate of games until USC comes to Boston in 2014. In 2014, the Eagles will get the Trojans, Tigers, Hokies, Tar Heels and Terrapins at home.

Jeff: I have finally realized why Jags didn't mind getting fired. Jags was ready to leave because the Gold Rush campaign was a bust. TOB thought that if he could build a winning program at the Heights, Alumni would be packed for every game, fans and alums would travel to bowl and then BC would get slotted in the bowl games they deserved. He was wrong and then was ready to leave. Jags thought BC needed to be taken to the next level and then fans would support the team better at home and on the road. Jags brought the team to the ACC Championship Game and then tried to implement wearing Vegas Gold (the color Georgia Tech wears) at home games for an SEC type atmosphere and it was a complete bust. Furthermore he brought the team to a second ACCCG and support was worse than the first one even though fans initial excuse was not being able to find flights and accommodations in Jacksonville. Upon realizing BC fans are not going to change he headed to the NFL where every game, home and away, is sold out. Brian, am I on to something here?

Brian: I think it is tough to link the lack of Eagles hometown support with Jags departure. TOB hid behind this reason (excuse?) on his way out of Chestnut Hill. But for Jags, I don't think the fan support had much to do with his decision to leave BC. In Jags case, I think it had everything to do with the fact that he was a pro coordinator before coming back to college and taking on a head coaching opportunity. Once he got a taste of the NFL, after two seasons at BC I think he realized that he missed the pro game - not having to deal with recruiting, not having to deal with academic and personal issues of kids 18-22 years old, etc. The grass is always greener on the other side, right?

Jeff: Let's just imagine that the gold rush had taken off and alumni was packed like this. Jags would've felt that he was a part of creating something and possibly would've felt more obligation to stay on as head coach. Instead, the rest is history. Can we blame the fans for a second?

Brian: No, I'm not going to blame the fans for this. Our fan base is what it is. I wish there were more die hard fans but there simply aren't at this point. There are certainly other factors at play here. I think one is that Gene doesn't have the "anyone, anytime, anywhere" philosophy when it comes to scheduling college football teams. Could this have been one of the "disagreements in direction" that Gene and Jags had? I mean, really, how appealing is it to go to Chestnut Hill for a noon game against the revolving door of MAC teams, Northeastern, Rhode Island, Maine, Hofstra, Central Florida, etc. Why would anyone want to pay a significant amount of money to see the Eagles beat down on those types of teams? If Gene went out and scheduled a bunch of BCS conference teams and wasn't scared into thinking he can only schedule 1 BCS conference opponent and three cupcakes, maybe more fans would come out. Wouldn't it be great to have a good SEC, Big XII, Pac 10 or Big Ten program play at the Heights?

Another factor is that Gene and college football programs everywhere are sort of forced to adopt these sorts of scheduling practices (1 decent opponent and 3 cupcakes). Since strength of schedule was taken out of the BCS formula, the M.O. for most programs is schedule 4 patsies and win at least a couple of conference games so you can get to a bowl. The reward structure for scheduling tough opponents is actually backwards with the current bowl system. You have to look no further than the joke of a Notre Dame schedule that the Irish play in 2009 to see what college football rewards in terms of scheduling.

Finally, it takes time to establish rivalries with our new ACC friends. The ACC seems to want to make Maryland a rival, but they haven't been historically relevant in football and have taken a downturn in basketball the last few years. Most of these other schools seem to be simply too far away to develop any sort of meaningful rivalry yet. It will take time before casual fans and students decide to get amped for a noon game against a team like NC State, North Carolina, Virginia or Duke.

Big Finish

Brian: HD unveiled her Mt. Rushmore of BC Football. Setting aside the fact that she didn't give us any credit for stealing ESPN's idea and applying it to college, did she get it right (considering she's only followed BC football for exactly 1 season)?

Jeff: I think TOB is missing from her list. TOB took the program from virtually nothing and led them to 8 straight bowls winning 7. No one from his era made the list except Matt Ryan who was only the starter in his final two seasons.

Jeff: This week's USCHO's college hockey bracketology is out and there is no B.C. in the field of 16. Cause for concern?

Brian: Absolutely cause for concern. After last week's dismal 1 point weekend against Lowell (!) and with 6 games to go, 4 of them against New Hampshire and Northeastern, Eagles fans have been hitting the panic button for a few weeks now.

Brian: Coach Jags speaks! He reports that he has no regrets about his time at Boston College. Jeff, you have any regrets about the Coach Jags era of BC football?

Jeff: Not wearing a gold rush shirt to the home games I attended.

Jeff: The women's hoops team fell to No. 10 North Carolina last night. The Eagles are now 18-8, 6-5 ACC. The men's team is currently 19-8, 7-5 ACC. So who has had a better season so far?

Brian: Great question. Have to give the slight edge to the men's team since they were ranked preseason 11 of 12 (the women's team was selected to finish 7 of 12). Both the women and men's teams are currently 6th in the ACC standings, so slight, slight edge to the men. But this shouldn't take away from the very good season the women's team is having.

Brian: Last one, big, big basketball game tomorrow as the Eagles travel to Coral Gables to take on the reeling Miami Hurricanes. Make a prediction. Who wins? What's the score?

Jeff: Losing two games to Miami this season would be an extreme dissapointment. I think the Eagles split the season series with a 74-59 victory.


BlockParty said...

yo guys, do you have the link for preseason rankings for basketball this year? just want to see what the 'experts' thought.

Brian said...

BlockParty - added the link into the post. Enjoy.

Winfield Featherston said...

1. Welcome to the world of average to slightly above average college football in the ACC. With the conference still made up of teams not acknowledged by the national media it is difficult to bring the fans. We know how that is at Georgia Tech. I think we are finally about to emerge from that because of the excitement Paul Johnson has brought back to Atlanta. People are starting to come watch Georgia Tech rather than watch our opponents.

2. Ticket prices: that must be the difference between New England and the South....people down here will find the money they need to pay for their passion.

ATL_eagle said...

Much better big finish than last week. Welcome back Jeff.

Brian said...

Winfield - at least at Georgia Tech, you guys have the right idea in scheduling 3 SEC schools in 2008 and 2009. Tech can reap the benefits of scheduling these schools since they are in your backyard and are incredibly passionate about their football.

Quite frankly, our AD is too afraid of looking outside of the MAC for out of conference competition. The BC out of conference schedule formula for the foreseeable future is:

- 1 part BCS conference team (Notre Dame, Syracuse, Northwestern, Southern Cal)
- 1 part I-AA
- 2 parts MAC (and/or look to C-USA to fill the holes)

Living outside of the Boston area, I certainly don't want to pay to travel to see those games outside of the 1 game against a BCS team.

It is time for GDF to man the F up and start replacing those MAC teams with other BCS conference teams from the SEC, Big XII, Pac 10.

conlonc said...

I have no problem with 1 part MAC. Let's face it, this year is a rarity. Going forward we have two BCS teams each year (Cuse, Northwestern, and USC) mixed in with a combination of either 1 MAC and 1 CUSA or 1 MAC and 1-AA at least through 2014. And I like the mix.

The big question is would you rather play a bottom of the barrell BCS team or a top of the conference MAC team for the 2nd OOC game? Wouldn't Central Michigan of the past 4 years beat both NW and Syracuse of the past 4? Are you guys talking from a national perception point or from a competitive game standpoint? There are definitely legit arguments on both sides. The national perception would say the stadium would be more full and we'd get more respect for beating NW and it would impact recruiting more. But from a competitive game standpoint we'd actual become better as a team playing CM and it'd be a better game and probably look better to people who actually know college football when CM goes 9-5 and NW goes 4-8.

conlonc said...

I mean, does anyone really care we beat Baylor in 1999?

Winfield: People in New England will pay for their passion but their passion has a different order. People in ATL probably goes GT, Falcons, Hawks, Thrashers. In New England it goes Red Sox, Pats, Celtics, Bruins, and then maybe BC. BC is my #1, but I am a rarity and not a product of New England.

conlonc said...

And lastly...belated congrats Jeff.

Jeff said...

Thanks. And I'd much rather play NW or Syracuse. Cuse was great not too long ago with McNabb and will be good again not to mention travel their own fans to Alumni. Northwestern meanwhile just played in the Alamo Bowl- a better bowl than BC has played in in their 10 year bowl streak.

Brian said...

conlonc - I am talking about scheduling some of the bigger boys from a national perception angle, a recruiting angle and a ticket sales/game hype angle.

While a game against Central Michigan might be more competitive than, say, Syracuse at this point, a game against Syracuse has many more benefits than playing CMU. Creates awareness in NY for recruits, old Big East rivals, BCS conference team, puts butts in seats, etc. You just can't get those same benefits playing a middle-of-the-road to above average MAC or C-USA team.

To me, series like the Central Florida series (even though we were in a bind) make no sense because we already play against a Florida area team once or twice a year.

Also, only in 2010 do we have two BCS teams on the sched (Notre Dame and Syracuse). Currently, every other year we only have 1 BCS school scheduled so far. E.g. in 2011 we play this murderer's row:

Home: Northwestern, UMass, Buffalo
Away: Central Florida

conlonc said...

Definitely agree more butts in the seats from both the BC side and the visitor's side and I'd prefer the BCS school. Plus the upside of them having good years occassionally or getting back to prominence is not a longshot.

I like the UCF series personally (as a 3rd best OOC game) because Orlando is a dynamite recruiting spot. I don't know if games at FSU or Miami really get into that market as deeply as some may think. In my opinion, going to Florida is never a waste of time.

Maybe the site I'm using is outdated, but I see this lineup on the horizon for OOC:
2010 ND, SU, Kent State
2011 NW, SU, UCF, Buffalo
2012 NW, SU
2013 USC, SU
2014 USC, SU, UNH

Where did you get the 2011 lineup?

Brian said...

You are right about the 2013 and 2014, but this site says (and I remember reading) that Syracuse opted out of the 2011 and 2012 games.

In my opinion, Florida is way oversaturted for recruiting. I think both Rich Rod and Wisconsin have signed a ridiculous amount of players from the state. I would be more interested in opening up the TN, KY, AL, MS pipeline. Markets we don't recruit in nor do we play a team from there. I'm thinking Vanderbilt (similar academic profile), Ole Miss, Miss St, Tennessee, etc.

We seemed to be making in-roads into the GA pipeline under Jags.

A guy can dream ...

Jeff said...

Syracuse did opt out of some games since the signing of the original contract.

For the record I completely disagree with Brian and his dream of trying to recruit Alabama and Mississippi. Florida is at least densely populated so a trip there by our coaches is not a complete waste of time going to see 1 or 2 kids as it would be in AL or MS. Also, the ACC has teams in FL so kids already know of BC and I'm going to guess the school system is better in FL than AL or MS so there is a better chance of the recruits in FL being able to meet our standards.

I think the UCF pickup was a great last minute pickup and probably the best option of any C-USA school now that Louisville and Cincy are Big East. Maybe Marshall would be OK?

USC is a big home-n-home home run for scheduling so that makes up for next year's schedule but in general we need 2 BCS conference schools. Like Syracuse and/or Notre Dame regularly and other two game series like USC, Penn State, and any SEC/Pac 10 schools.

Brian said...

Jeff - the point about AL and MS is illustrative. Think the kids in those states are dumb (what? they have no private schools down there?), take another area of the country. Btw, take a look at the roster for Vanderbilt (7 players from AL). I think there is enough talent in that region that could hack it at BC. Just saying.

All I'm suggesting is that I think there should be a tighter coupling between the OOC teams we schedule and the recruiting pipelines we want to tap.

The annual MAC game made more sense when TOB keyed in on the Cincinnati pipeline (Indiana too with Kiwi, etc.). I feel like Jags moved away from the Midwest and keyed in more on the South, Georgia in particular. Who knows what areas Spaz wants to tap into but I'm suggesting there should be a stronger correlation between the teams we play and the areas we want to recruit.

If we want to recruit exclusively out of the NE, fine, then let's continue to schedule the Syracuses, Buffalos, UMasses, Maines, Armys, Penn States, UConns, and Rutgers of the world. If, however, we want to tap into other (more fertile) regions, say the Southeast, Florida, Texas, or the West Coast, then we should do a better job of getting out to those regions to play some of the local programs in out of conference matchups.