This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.
Everyone has a different story. While some people were Boston College fans before they came to the Heights, others became fans when they got to campus. Still others may have attended grad school at BC or were forced (read: born) into cheering for the maroon and gold. Today's post topic attempts to delve more deeply into why you became an Eagles fan. My own story is a bit of an unconventional one.
Funny thing about being an oldest child. When it comes to filling out college applications and picking places to go to school, you really don't have the first clue what you are doing.
I grew up in southern New Jersey and spent the first 18 years of my life there. Aside from the occasional mention of Penn State in the Philadelphia Inquirer, college football wasn't anywhere on my radar growing up. My father went to school at Ohio Northern University (Go Polar Bears!) and my mother went to school at Keene State in New Hampshire. Growing up, I was much more into following the New York pro sports teams (the Giants, Yankees and Rangers) than college sports teams. Aside from a passing interest in March Madness, college sports, and in particular, college football, just weren't on my radar.
So it shouldn't come as a surprise that when it came time to choose a college, I really didn't factor whether the schools that I applied to had big time college athletics. In fact, of the six schools that I applied to, only one - Boston College - had a Division I college football program. Well, two if you count the State University of New Jersey, but at the time, it wasn't much of a program at all. So I guess you can say I only applied to one school with a football program ...
I have distinct memories of moving into Duchesne Hall my freshman year and listening to the BC-West Virginia football game on the car radio as I unpacked. In a game that would be symbolic of BC's four year run while I was in school, the Eagles lost that game in Morgantown 34-14.
While I grew to appreciate college football as a part of college life at BC, the football team never really gave me anything to convince me to go that extra mile and become a diehard fan. Sure, 8-9 win seasons and Motor City Bowl victories were nice, but I was later lead to believe that 8-9 wins were the best you could do at BC. The Eagles always seemed to be a good, not but great team that would win a few conference games but never challenge Virginia Tech or Miami for the top spot in the Big East.
In contrast, the Eagles men's ice hockey team won a National Championship in my freshman year, breaking a 52-year title drought. The BC basketball team surprised the entire conference by winning the Big East Tournament in 2001. I was instantly hooked on both hockey and basketball.
But with football, while I grew to love the Eagles football team, they never gave me that something extra. That is, until the 2007 season.
While I would continue to go back and attend college football games (meeting a cute BC grad student that randomly sat behind me at the 2004 BC-Penn State game who would later become my wife), it wasn't until the 2007 season that I became hooked on BC football.
Enter: Matt Ryan.
BC had two solid seasons in their first two years in the ACC, coming within a game of appearing in the ACC Championship Game. We were shown flashes of what Matt Ryan could do at quarterback once he was finally given the starting role over Quinton Porter. But as the 2007 season went on, you had the feeling that it was the start of something truly special. A strange scheduling quirk gave the Eagles three straight ACC games to start the season. I attended both the season opener against Wake Forest, a wild 38-28 game where BC went down by two scores in the games' opening minutes, and a 37-17 victory over former Coach O'Brien and the N.C. State Wolfpack.
Matt Ryan really arrived when he torched Jon Tenuta's Georgia Tech defense for 435 yards and a touchdown in a convincing 24-10 victory on Saturday night. The Eagles started ACC play with a 3-0 record. And the wins kept coming ... 4-0 ... 5-0 ... 6-0 ... 7-0. Before you knew it, the little school from Chestnut Hill was 7-0 and the #2 ranked team in the country.
On pretty much a whim, Jeff convinced me to drive the 8 hours from New York to Blacksburg for BC's Thursday night game against the #8 ranked Virginia Tech Hokies. We sat in the pouring rain for 3+ quarters, watching the Eagles get shutout and the Virginia Tech defense stifle Matt Ryan and the Eagles offense. That is, until 4:16 left in the fourth quarter, where we witnessed Matt Ryan engineer two of the most incredible drives I've ever seen. When Ryan found Andre Callendar wide open in the end zone with :11 to play, that was it. That was the moment BC football converted another lifer.
I would attend the next three games, and despite losses to Florida State and Maryland, Matt Ryan had a little more magic up his sleeve, finding a wide open Rich Gunnell for the Atlantic Division-clinching touchdown against Clemson. While I was a bit crushed when BC lost the rematch to Virginia Tech in the 2007 ACC Championship Game, I flew back down to Florida three weeks later to see Ryan play one last time in the Champs Sports Bowl. You just had the feeling that you never wanted that season to end.
The Eagles finished the season 11-3 and ranked 10th in the final AP poll. Not bad for a school where 8-9 wins was supposed to be the ceiling. And despite a soul-crushing loss in the ACC Championship Game, Jeff and I started this blog less than a week later. So nearly three years and over 1,000 posts later, you mostly have Matt Ryan to thank for this site.
What about you guys? When did you become an Eagles fan?