A general view of the Miami Hurricanes during a game against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Sun Life Stadium on November 20 2010 in Miami Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
For the first 80 seasons of Boston College football, the Eagles ended the regular season playing Holy Cross in 60 of those 80 seasons. Other than some one-off games against Norwich (Vermont), Saint Anselm (NH), the Minneola Aviators and the Boston College Alumni (?), Boston College vs. Holy Cross was THE game players and alumni circled on their calendar every year. Eagles-Crusaders would end up hooking up 82 times on the gridiron, with 66 of those games coming in BC's regular season finale.
Ever since Holy Cross changed the direction of its football program in 1986, joining the Division I-AA Patriot League and terminating the series with the Eagles, BC has struggled to develop the same end-of-season rivalry they had with Holy Cross.
BC just hasn't found that same end-of-season rivalry that you associate with college football's final regular season weekend since. Think: Army-Navy, Florida-Florida State, USC-UCLA, Auburn-Alabama, Texas-Texas A&M and Utah-BYU.
During the Big East years, the Eagles ended the regular season playing a number of different conference opponents -- West Virginia, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Miami -- and independent Army. However, over the 14 years the Eagles were a member of the Big East, BC faced no team more in the season finale than the Miami Hurricanes. From 1991-2004, the Eagles faced the Canes four times to end the season in 1991 (19-14 loss), 1994 (23-7 L), 1996 (43-26 L) and 2000 (52-6 L).
In the first five years in the ACC, BC faced Maryland (3 times) and Miami (2 times) in a regular season, conference finale. This past season, the program broke from the "conference game regular season finale scheduling mold" with Syracuse. BC and 'Cuse resumed its football series in 2010, and while the Orange slunk out of the next two years in the series, the two former Big East rivals are slated to play seven more times from 2013-2021. GDF has mentioned on a couple of occasions that the two schools plan on playing on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
That's a very good thing, because while I am all for scheduling based on nostalgia and marketing, I hope BC doesn't face Miami in this time slot going forward for one simple reason: a possible ACC Championship Game rematch the following week.
Now you might laugh at the possibility of a 2011 ACC Championship Game matchup between BC-Miami, but still the possibility remains. This is the exact reason why scheduling Atlantic Division vs. Coastal Division matchups on college football's final regular season weekend is a bad idea for all the reasons that Tom O'Brien complained about N.C. State playing cross-divisional rival North Carolina in '09.
If a BC-Miami matchup in the ACC Championship Game is predestined to be a box office flop (two private schools located the further than any other ACC school from Charlotte), imagine how a BC-Miami matchup in back-to-back weeks would draw? The ACC might as well not charge admission and make that year's ACCCG a made-for-TV event.
The new B1G Ten is tempting fate a bit by keeping Ohio State-Michigan on the final game of the regular season, while keeping these two storied programs in separate (ridiculously named) divisions. This sets up the possibility of a Championship Game rematch the following week. On the other hand, the new Pac-12 seems to have gotten this right, placing USC-UCLA, Oregon-Oregon State and Washington-Washington State in the same divisions, eliminating this possibility of a rematch the following week (as silly as the thought of a Washington-Washington State Championship Game may sound).
The ideal situation is to have every non-Virginia, non-Virginia Tech ACC team play a non-conference opponent the final game of the regular season. This setup likely gives the conference an extra week to sell Championship Game tickets for a game that has struggled in the attendance department.
Short of that, the ACC needs to avoid scheduling cross-divisional games on college football's final weekend. There have been five ACC cross-divisional, season-ending games since the conference moved to 12 teams. Three have involved Miami and two have involved BC and N.C. State. BC-Miami to end the regular season this year makes it a half dozen.
Every time the conference has scheduled one of these cross-divisional games at season's end, they have lucked out. This is largely due to Miami failing to live up to the high expectations that accompanied the program when they jumped from the Big East to the ACC for the 2004 season. Well, that, and the Carolina schools inability to make the conference's title game. Current tally: Boston College 2, North Carolina schools 1, Miami 0.
This year, the Hurricanes were set to continue their five-game series with the USF Bulls on Thanksgiving weekend, but the Big East requested that they move the game up to the previous weekend. Leave it to the Big East to still find ways to mess with Miami, BC and the ACC 6-7 years after the breakup. The result is a BC-Miami finale for the third time in six seasons.
Hopefully, Miami-USF joins the list of Thanksgiving weekend, non-conference rivalry games so that we avoid any Atlantic vs. Coastal Division matchups going forward. Miami-USF would then join Florida State-Florida, Georgia Tech-Georgia, Clemson-South Carolina, BC-Syracuse and Wake Forest-Vanderbilt as the conference's six non-conference, season-ending rivalry games.
That leaves Virginia Tech-Virginia, North Carolina-Duke and Maryland-N.C. State as the three remaining ACC conference games to be played on the final weekend of the regular season. All three of those matchups are within the Division, so we're good there.
Finally, if GDF can't work out a deal to play Syracuse on Thanksgiving weekend, or the Orange don't renew with BC after the 2021 season, might I suggest replacing 'Cuse with Notre Dame to end the season? The Irish, who have traditionally played either USC or Stanford to end the season in recent years, may have a tough time finding spots on either of their Pac-12 opponents' future schedules given that USC will likely slot UCLA then the Pac-12 Championship Game over the final two weeks of the season. Same likely goes for Stanford and Cal.
What better way to end the regular season than once again pitting Catholics vs. Catholics on the gridiron, much like the rivalry BC and Holy Cross enjoyed during the Eagles football program's first 80 years of existence.