It's been interesting to read how the basketball program has been viewed on campus throughout the years.
I attended BC during the Davis/Williams eras. Two regular season Big East titles and 2 runs to the Sweet 16. Sandwiched in between was a 4th place Big East finish, but one which saw us run to the NCAA Elite 8. John Bagley, Michael Adams, Jay Murphy, Martin Clark, John Garris, Tim O'Shea, Roger McCready...lots of good players. And Roberts Center was packed with students. Pep band playing Hawaii Five-o, and Roll out the Barrell when the game was out of reach. Flutie was leading the football team, and the hockey team was Top 10 every year. Great times.
So, what's the problem today? And how do we fix it?
Is it facilities? Maybe. But our facilities have always been bad, relatively speaking. Tom Sheehey actually laughed when he walked into Roberts (before attending UVa). Same with football. But we've attracted good players just the same. Is it the Admissions Department? '74 thinks so. But I think that a student ought to be able to read in order to gain admission to BC. (And if they can, they're automatically on par with Sociology, Communications, and Psychology majors.)
I think that one overlooked problem started with Bill Flynn. During football games, students used to sit in general admission form between the 40s. Best seats in the house. Same with bball and hockey. But when Flutie/BC took the national stage, Flynn took the student seats and gave them to the whale pants crowd. At football games, students were moved to the corner endzone. When Conte was built, the students were dumped behind the baskets. Atmosphere goes a long way to both recruiting decent talent and winning home games against better teams. We have no atmosphere, because our students are treated as afterthoughts.
After BC, I attended an ACC school for law school. They do things very differently down there. Student tickets are free, and the kids are given the best seats. And what do you see on TV? A rockin atmosphere that gets any high school athlete pumped. (Try spotting a banker in the crowd at a Duke home game). I actually expressed concern about the changing priorities to Flynn when I was a student. He told me that I was being short-sighted. "You're a student now," he said, "but you'll be an alum for the rest of your life." He was right about that, of course. But I was right about the atmosphere.
When your atmosphere stinks, you can't recruit. When you can't recruit, your teams stink. When your teams stink, you have empty seats and lost revenue, no matter how many middle aged beer bellies are in the best seats (or aren't, because it happens to be snowing outside). Changing the atmosphere by giving students the best seats won't cure our other shortcomings. But it can hide a lot of them -- and make it more fun for students -- with a very modest budgetary impact.
Soon, we'll get better players, post better records, and draw more fans.