I have made the contention that the Boston College football program has been losing status in the Boston sports community for quite a while now, far longer than anything that can be pinned totally on Spaz. So I decided to take a look and found that based on at least one solid metric, home attendance, my observations are justified.
Fan interest in the local market peaked twice in my lifetime. During the 1982-1984 seasons around the Doug Flutie era and then again from 1993 to 1996 during the end of the Tom Coughlin era and into the Dan Henning era.
Now granted Alumni was smaller in the day and the Eagles played a few games in Foxboro as well, but from 1982-1984, BC sold out Alumni and Sullivan Stadium ten times.
In the days from 1992-93, BC had seven straight sellouts of 33,298 and then continued that with 15 consecutive sellouts of 44,500 running from 1994-96. That's 22 consecutive sell outs.
Since that Notre Dame game of 1996, BC has sold out only twelve non-Notre Dame football games in the past 16 years! Of those 12, only three were played when both BC and their opponents were unranked at the time. BC/UConn and BC/Penn State 2004 and BC/Syracuse 2000.
More recently, BC has failed to sell out any non Notre Dame home game period, since the Miami game of 2007. That was the last home game of that season, when Matt Ryan lead the Eagles to a win and into the ACC Championship game. Included in that stretch was the famous rain game against Florida State when your Eagles sat at #2 in the country.
That's now five straight seasons of NO sellouts.
Non Notre Dame home sellouts since 2000. Keep in mind, these were considered the Eagles modern day glory years, with 12 consecutive bowl appearances and two trips to the ACC title game.
Nov 24, 2007 - #15 BC 28 Miami 14
Nov 18, 2006 - #20 BC 38 #21 Maryland 16
Oct 12, 2006 - BC 22 #22 Virginia Tech 3
Sept 9, 2006 - BC 34 #18 Clemson 33
Sept 17, 2005 - #8 Florida State 28 #17 BC 17
Nov 27, 2004 - Syracuse 43 #17 BC 17
Sept 17, 2004 - BC 27 UConn 7
Sept 11, 2004 - BC 21 Penn State 7
Sept 20, 2003 - #2 Miami 33 BC 14
Nov 10, 2001 - #1 Miami 18 BC 7
Oct 14, 2000 - BC 20 Syracuse 13
Sept 30, 2000 - #4 Virginia Tech 48 BC 34
1997-1999 - only 1 sellout total (ND - 1998)
1994-1996 - 15 straight sellouts of 44,500
1992-1993 - 7 straight sellouts of 33,298
I do hope Brad Bates is a historian and a metrics guy. The Boston College program has been and continues to be an afterthought in the Boston market. Finding ways to put fannies in the seats, eyeballs on TV sets, newspapers, web sites and radio is a key to bringing this back to where it was back in the day...and clearly based on these facts, winning isn't enough..but it better start there!
Seats sold and attendance equates to interest and there are virtually no programs in the country that win in places where there is no interest. Where a sport is important to the masses, the sport usually succeeds.
This came from the post earlier today on the Derek Dooley situation at Tennessee:
The standard for football is just higher there (UT) than it is at Boston College. The Volunteers football program is used to being a factor in the SEC Championship and being in the National Championship discussion. And, oh yeah, their stadium seats 100,000+.
When BC started charging the donations for the season tickets, they upped the ante and put themselves in a similar class to the Tennessee's of the world, but they have never then played the game on and off the field with the same level of urgency.
If the administration felt pressure because of the sheer importance of the program in the community, I doubt we would be where we are today.