Brian: On Saturday, Heights Sports Greg Joyce reported that BC's November 9 game against New Mexico State will be a home game ... for the Aggies. The news was met with much derision from fans and long-time season ticket holders. As an out of town season ticket holder, you cool with having just six Eagles football home games for the third straight season?
Jeff: The first year that this happened, 2011, when BC traveled to Notre Dame and Central Florida in non-conference play, I was glad to see that we only had six games because it reduced my cost for season tickets. Had UCF been a home game, I would have paid for that game, but there was little chance I would have made the trip up for it. So, for me, it just saved me some money.
Now that this is happening for the third straight season, I am not sure if I am still happy with it saving me some money since I won't travel for seven home games a year just like many other season ticket holders outside of the Boston area. I'm also concerned for the students and players who are only getting six home games a year. The program is asking the players to travel six times and next year they're flying all the way to Los Angeles once and now Las Cruces, New Mexico the second time.
When you and I were students we also only got six home games most seasons because the college football regular season was capped at 11 games. But during that time, there were always some games we could consider for a reasonable away trip including Rutgers, UConn, Syracuse, Penn State, Army and even Temple. Last season the game at Army saw a large turnout of BC fans, but in 2011 the closest away game was at Maryland. This coming season, the closest away game might be at Maryland again. If there were non-conference road games at UConn, Army, Rutgers, Penn State or even Navy, I would like playing two non-conference games away from Alumni much better on a permanent basis compared to how the schedule is shaping up now.
I assume that the financial implications of accepting the New Mexico State game on the road is good for BC. But we need to get this program back to where accepting a non-AQ school away game more than 1,000 miles from campus does not happen.
Brian: Several tl;dr points.
1) BC has one of the lowest number of home games in the conference over the last few seasons. Next season, from the ACC, Maryland and Virginia Tech are the only other programs that will play six home games next season. Both programs, however, have one neutral site game that is accessible to fans. Maryland plays West Virginia in Baltimore, while Virginia Tech plays Alabama in Atlanta. Wake Forest and Syracuse have yet to complete their 2013 schedules, but Wake will likely play six games at home (with no neutral site game), while Syracuse will play six plus play Penn State in the Meadowlands.
If you look over the last five years, the only programs that have a lower number of home games are Virginia Tech and Miami. At least for the Hokies, fans are given neutral site regular season games against marquee opponents within driving distance (Alabama x2 in Atlanta, Boise State in Landover). Over a 10 year period, the only ACC program to have fewer home games than BC is Maryland -- again with a few neutral site games easily accessible to fans sprinkled in (Navy, Notre Dame, West Virginia next season).
Home games are the name of the game. Everyone is looking to maximize the number of home games they have a season which is why the number of BCS AQ vs. BCS AQ regular season matchups have decreased significantly over the last decade. BC should be no different. Doesn't matter if your stadium seats 30k or 100k.
2) As you mentioned, this sucks for season ticket holders -- particularly season ticket holders that live outside of New England. The typical refrain here is "well how many people were going to go to the N.M. State home game?" which, frankly, doesn't seem particularly relevant. Every game in the season ticket package provides value to the buyer. Do you really expect the Flynn Fund DBS requirement to decrease with one less home game this year? Will tailgating prices now be cheaper with one less home game? I'd love to know the answer to these questions but I think I already know the answer.
Throw in at least one Friday night home game with the ACC's new TV deal and season ticket holders that live outside of the greater Boston area are being asked to pay a lot of money for a max five Saturdays a year. Why spend that money with a weak home slate of games in 2013? You'd be much better off buying a pair of tickets on the secondary market for the games you want to go to at a fraction of the cost of the season ticket package.
This is particularly true with the future of the Notre Dame series up in the air. If the Irish don't honor the remaining games against the Eagles in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019 and Notre Dame starts visiting the Heights just once every six years as part of the ACC scheduling deal, there will be precious few marquee games that will help sell season ticket packages. USC in 2014, Ohio State in 2021 and ...? The Syracuse game will draw well. Clemson too. Outside of those two conference programs? Miami, which will come to campus once every 12 years?
3) As I imagine a lot of programs are, BC football has been historically much better playing at home than on the road Since BC joined the ACC, the Eagles are 37-16 at home (.698) and 20-22 on the road (.476). Take out the Spaz years and BC was 23-4 at home (.852) and 13-7 on the road (.650). If you are in the middle of a complete rebuild job, why would you possibly want to play less home games?
4) As I've said before, the fact that it is N.M. State specifically isn't the main objection here. Still, as a major conference program, I don't see why BC would ever want to travel to Las Cruces to play a mid-major in a 30k seat stadium. The last major conference program to play in Las Cruces was Cal ... in 2005. The Aggies have been playing football for 120 years and all of five BCS programs have ever played N.M. State in Las Cruces:
With its newfound independence, the Aggies have scheduled BC and Minnesota, the sixth and seventh BCS AQ programs ever to step foot on campus. Yet those are the only BCS AQ programs on the Aggies' non-conference schedules going forward. Want to know why only five BCS programs have ever played in Las Cruces? Because it doesn't make sense for an AQ to go to New Mexico State to play a game. With due respect to the program.
5) It can't be that there weren't other options on the table. The ACC's decision to move back to an eight game conference schedule did put BC in a bit of a bind, but New Mexico State also wasn't the last FBS program in the nation looking for an open date in 2013. I have a hard time believing that BC couldn't have bought a seventh home game against an FBS program (or scheduled a home-and-home with Arizona or Missouri). There had been other creative options tossed around too. Blauds mentioned the possibility of moving the UMass game at Gillette up a year, which to me, would have been preferred to going to New Mexico State. (Can't believe I'm saying this, but) figuring out a way to play the Storrs Aggies would have been preferable to playing at the New Mexico State Aggies.
Jeff: If we lose at New Mexico State and end up finishing 5-7, this will be a disaster.
Brian: Or win at New Mexico State only to follow that up with losses against winnable conference opponents in mid- and late-November.