BC's Dwindling New England I-AA Scheduling Options? And The Big Finish

With UMass and UConn recently making the jump to FBS and Northeastern and Hofstra recently cancelling its football programs, local New England I-AA scheduling options continue to dwindle for Boston College.

Wrapping up UMass week ...

Brian: When you think of a football program's annual game against a I-AA opponent, you typically think of I-A teams scheduling local programs to help attendance and regional interest in college football. You can see this trend very clearly in the ACC, with BC-UMass, Virginia Tech-Appalachian State, Georgia Tech-Western Carolina, North Carolina-James Madison, Virginia-William & Mary, Duke-Richmond and N.C. State-Liberty all on the schedule for this year's opening weekend in college football.

The benefits of keeping it local when it comes to your I-AA opponent are obvious -- it gives opposing fans a chance to travel to the game which helps attendance and boosts interest in the I-AA program which helps with regional recruiting.

But over the last 10-15 years, you can see a disturbing trend among I-AA teams in New England and the Mid-Atlantic.

UConn made the jump to I-A football in the early 2000s. UMass is making a similar jump for the 2012 season. Villanova may soon get the Big East invite to make the jump as well. Northeastern and Hofstra both recently folded their football programs, while Rhode Island is moving to the limited scholarship Northeast Conference.

BC's long-time Jesuit rival, Holy Cross, doesn't offer scholarships as members of the Patriot League, so the Eagles can't schedule the Crusaders either.

That leaves just two I-AA Northeast programs -- New Hampshire and Maine -- to schedule going forward. A third, fellow Jesuit school Fordham, only recently started to offer scholarships and will face UConn this season.

The Eagles have Maine (2012), Stonybrook (2013) and Rhode Island (2014) on the schedule, but the future of scheduling I-AA opponents from New England seems a bit shaky. Assuming that the annual I-AA game is an inevitability, how would you like to see this play out longer term for the Eagles? Should BC just rotate between UNH, URI and Maine, or should we start scheduling I-AA opponents outside of New England? Your thoughts?

Jeff: Scheduling Weber State last season was not popular at all. If BC continues to schedule I-AAs then I think GDF does need to keep it in New England. What I think we'll see though instead of scheduling a I-AA every year is that we'll get some non-MAC I-A schools looking for a paycheck like a Western Kentucky who moved up recently or UMass once they realize that scheduling home and homes against the big boys is not as easy as they were hoping.

Brian: I agree. I think you'll see BC begin to replace I-AAs with MAC, Conference USA and service academies going forward. Weber State wasn't great or anything, but you have to realize that Weber State was bailing BC out after Hofstra (or was it Northeastern?) cancelled its program and left a hole on last year's sched.

Over the next four years, the I-AA opponents are set -- UMass, Maine, Stonybrook and Rhode Island -- but after that, I think you'll see a service academy or a MAC program replace the annual I-AA opponent. You can start to see that with the 2015 schedule, where the Eagles play Syracuse, Notre Dame, Army and Buffalo, and a proposed 4-for-2 with UMass that would presumably begin in 2016. 

With UMass making the jump to FBS, a non-conference slate of Notre Dame, Syracuse, a MAC opponent (Buffalo/UMass) and a service academy is much better than say, Notre Dame, Syracuse, UMass and a I-AA. (And as an aside, let's get Navy back on the schedule, too). I hope that if UMass does agree to the 4-for-2 that GDF decides that game should replace the annual I-AA game, as I-AA scheduling options are getting fewer and fewer in New England.

 

Big Finish

Brian: Today marks the first day of the new Big Ten and Pac-12. Will it take the remaining Big 12 programs nearly as long to forgive and forget as it has the Big East and BC?

Jeff: I mean GDF organizing the remaining schools together to save the conference might have added a little to the Big East-BC split but its essentially the same.

 

Jeff: The NBA is now in the middle of a lockout and there is a chance the whole season is lost. Any chance Reggie Jackson is wishing he stayed on campus?

Brian: Slim to none. Jackson made the right decision and his decision was validated by getting drafted in the first round. Come back to school and risk injury or lowering your draft stock.

 

Brian: HD thinks we have the best set of linebackers in the ACC. Though we both completely agree, are you surprised we got some love from HD?

Jeff: This offseason she has shown more love for BC than ever before.

 

Jeff: Here's a 6-6 and 4th place in the Atlantic prediction for the Eagles this season. That's easy to meet or exceed, right?

Brian: It won't be easy with six road games, but I think the Eagles will get to at least 7.

 

Brian: HD also thinks Donnie Fletcher is the fifth best cornerback in the conference. Do you?

Jeff: I don't think I'm all that sold on Fletcher but maybe everyone else in the conference is just worse.

 

Jeff: Last time we played UMass in football Nathaniel Hasselbeck had transferred there. Any former BC players on this year's version we need to worry about?

Brian: I don't recognize any names on the current roster so I don't think so.

 

Brian: Last one. This week, the BC women's soccer program released its 2011 schedule. Do you expect the Eagles to build on last year's College Cup / National Semifinal appearance?

Jeff: The schedule doesn't have the big OOC game like Stanford last season but I think BC women's soccer will be very solid for year's to come.

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