As a result of the ACC's decision to move back to an eight game conference schedule, Boston College is still looking for a 12th opponent to complete the 2013 schedule. Florida State just completed its 2013 schedule with a paycheck game against Idaho, leaving the Eagles with precious few options: Marshall, Tulane, Louisiana Tech, BYU, New Mexico State, Central Michigan, Arizona, Missouri, Middle Tennessee State and Texas State, give or take a few programs.
Eagle in Atlanta has a new suggestion: play the Minutemen in Foxborough.
It's not the worst idea ever. While I don't think BC would be able to fill Gillette, this would serve to help out Massachusetts' fledgling Division I-A program.
Division I-A programs are required to average at least 15,000 fans once over a two year period to maintain its FBS standing. UMass, in its first year in Division I-A playing 90+ miles from campus, averaged just 10,901 a game, including a season low 6,385 in attendance for the regular season finale against Central Michigan.
As a result, UMass is going to have to get creative in 2013 if it wishes to keep playing "big boy" football. The hurdle is high. UMass will have to improve its per-game attendance average by more than 4,000 fans next season. With a 2013 home schedule headlined by Vanderbilt and including Maine, Akron, Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois and Western Michigan, combined with a 1-11 inaugural season, the Minutemen's prospects of hitting that 15k average don't seem all that great.
The MAC has not been immune to flirting with relegation by NCAA bylaw. Last year, Eastern Michigan got Pepsi to purchase 50,000 tickets at $3 a pop to hit the magical 15k average. Similarly, Ball State was saved by an anonymous donor scooping up 35,000 tickets.
Should BC do the neighborly thing here and help our friends out in Amherst? This isn't the difference between five and six ome games, so the hit to season ticket sales wouldn't be all that great (though it is a lost opportunity to generate more revenue). A game with the Minutemen is more of a guaranteed win than any other FBS opponent still looking for a game in 2013.
Or, as with basketball, BC could turn a cold shoulder here, letting UMass sweat it out and watching as Robert Kraft sells UMass football tickets for $5 and FREE HOT DOGS! in an attempt to get an average of 15k in the seats at the Razor. School officials at UMass could even take matters into their own hands and commit FBS hara-kiri and move back to Division I-AA in an attempt to avoid relegation by bylaw. Either move would be unprecedented.
For UMass fans clamoring for Boston College to play the Minutemen in football more often now that they are a member of Division I-A, the irony is that if UMass had stayed as a member of the FCS, Boston College would have been more likely to schedule the Minutemen on a more frequent basis. With the Patriot League moving to 60 scholarships by 2017, the Eagles could have had a steady I-AA game rotation of UMass, Holy Cross and Rhode Island / Maine / New Hampshire and never want for a suitable I-AA opponents to fill the schedule again.