As it is with any rebuild, there will be a couple of minor steps backward for any major step forward. With all the buildup surrounding the first few games and the steps forward that the Boston College Athletic Department took against Villanova, Wake Forest, and Florida State, there was going to be a natural letdown against Army, both in terms of on-field product and game experience.
Any time a team dominates or plays well, the pressure increases to continue to sustain that growth. But, as there is with any natural progression, the growth will, at some point, plateau. What you hope is that the plateau doesn't kill the fan base. In Game #4 of the home football schedule, a week after an emotional afternoon and evening matchup before an emotional house against Florida State, we've hit, at least somewhat, that plateau.
As I've mentioned before, one of the things that I find most enjoyable about a game is the introduction of the team. There's nothing like a crowd getting worked into a frenzy before the arrival of their warriors. To me, there's nothing quite like the tomahawk chop in Florida State as they raise that ungodly huge white banner. The "Let's Go! Hokies!" chant followed by Enter Sandman is one of the things that make Lane Stadium a brutal place to play.
I understand that Boston College will never be those places, and I understand that since there's virtually nothing else to do in Blacksburg, Virginia, going to Va. Tech games and taking part in the pageantry there is what is the only outlet. After all, there's no baseball, football, basketball, or hockey team in a pro league. There's no major city for students and people to go hang out in. It's literally Virginia Tech football and land.
But it still pains me to walk into the stadium 30 minutes before kickoff and see rows upon rows of empty bleacher seats. I understand that tailgating at Boston College comes at a premium, and it's extremely tough to coax fans into games before kickoff when they're paying astronomical prices for tailgating passes. I understand it's even tougher to get them into the game when a 1 PM start means they've only been in the parking lot for an hour because getting in for an 11 AM tailgate is asking too much on a Saturday. But it still really hurts a die-hard fan to walk into the stadium for the pregame pageantry and see...well... nothing.
Fans who miss out on the beginning of the game miss out on one of the best marching bands in the nation. They miss watching some awesome warmups and seeing the intracacies of the game. They miss seeing the true intensity of Steve Addazio and Don Brown stalking from group to group, getting their guys pumped up. They miss seeing the opposing team going through their motions. And they miss a pregame show that includes the opponent's fight song (always something fun to watch) and the oldest fight song in America, For Boston.
But if there's something that sticks even worse, it's the fans who forget the game is four quarters. It's one thing to show up late; it's another thing to leave before the game is even remotely close to over. This was a tight game, one where history was being threatened by Andre Williams, and the fans were literally leaving after the third quarter. My biggest complaint about the students was that there's a solid chunk of them who go to the games to sing Sweet Caroline after the third quarter; they proved that theory this weekend instead of staying and cheering for the team. I know there's a small percentage of students who go to the game with the purpose of doing the cheers and interacting with the band instead of actually watching football. But when the student section half empties after the third quarter, when most of them didn't even get there until halfway through the first, that's mind numbing.
But that's all soap box complaints, and AJ mentioned it in his Good, Bad, and Ugly column the other day. That's something that's on the fans, and those of us who truly love the BC squads ask you to please come early and stay late. Make Alumni Stadium special. This team deserves it.
Now for some of the other observations:
-- BC changed their video board montage. I don't have a problem with updating it, but fans who thought Bon Jovi's "This Is Our House" was unoriginal should be delighted to know that they switched to Fall Out Boy's "Light 'Em Up," a song played during the NHL Playoffs, MLB Playoffs, and NFL season opener. The song has been used for roughly 92,147 things since it came out in the spring. I like the song, but even I have to admit it's into overuse. And the message of the "This Is Our House" was to remind us of building. "Light 'Em Up" just showed a bunch of highlights. Maybe I'm partial to Bon Jovi a little too much because they're my favorite band, but hey, what do I know?
-- Great job honoring people on the field during timeouts. TV timeouts are probably the worst part about going to games, especially now that every game is technically televised thanks to Internet streaming and ESPN3.com. Being homecoming, the BC athletic department took every opportunity to honor people who have made an impact. Nothing was more special, against Army, than honoring the family of a Boston College ROTC grad killed overseas, the first BC fatality since Vietnam. It got dusty. And, side note, but honoring the Emerald Isle Classic made more than a few old-timers in my section reminisce about seeing the game played in Cork.
-- BC packaged homecoming with military appreciation day. I don't mind this since it gave them a chance to do something nice for playing Army. A particularly touching moment was when they asked all veterans of foreign wars and conflicts to stand and be recognized. How these people don't get standing ovations from crowds every time is beyond me.
-- BC completely dropped the ball on naming the BAMF. First it was Florida State, then it was pushed back, then the eagle wasn't coming against Army, then it wasn't named. There was no mention. Just -- nothing. Like I said, this is like a soap opera or pro wrestling have a great storyline and then completely going nowhere with it and acting like it never happened. And this isn't something they should be dropping the ball with. I'm blaming Rep. Boehner, President Obama, and Gary Bettman.
-- Like I said, this game felt like a plateau. It's especially hard to follow up fireworks, fire, and smoke against Florida State when you're playing Army in a game that almost didn't happen, but I'm hoping BC can break through against Virginia Tech. They have a couple of weeks to potentially come up with something, and I'm interested to see what they come up with since they've been doing a great job to this point.