Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst made a bold move yesterday when he decided to cancel the annual spring game in order to "maximize limited practice time". This is an interesting move, and honestly not a bad one, because it brings up a few valuable questions, especially for a program like Boston College. Do we really need to have a spring game?
Not having a spring game actually makes a lot of sense for many programs. Spring games usually are played at full speed, and can lead to injuries. Just look at last year when BYU quarterback Ammon Olsen tore his PCL in the annual Blue/White game, and Clemson lost their backup quarterback Chad Kelly to a gruesome knee injury in their spring game. Think of where Boston College will be this spring. They need quarterback Tyler Murphy to be healthy, and if he was to get injured in a meaningless exhibition game the forecast for the season would be dramatically different. By eliminating the spring game, these types of injuries that happen in full speed contact games could be avoided.
One of the supposed pros of having a spring game for many teams is that it's a way for the program to reach out to their fan base and allow them an extra chance to see the team. However for a team like Boston College, who would be lucky to get 5,000 in the gate, which is due for a number of reasons. BC has never done a real good job marketing the Spring Game, other than watching a convoluted scoring system there is no real drama to the game, and there is no real draw for fans to go. So if BC fans are not going to actually show up, and BC isn't really going to do much in terms of attracting fans (Fanfest is a start, but BC needs to figure out more), then what is the purpose of the game?
Weather can be a huge factor in causing injuries and a lack luster event. In 2012 BC had the spring game during Frank Spaziani's final season. If my memory serves me correctly--could be 2011 that whole era blends together---, it was rainy and miserable and there couldn't have been more than 500 people in Alumni. It was awful, it was cold and miserable and I remember leaving asking myself "Why did I just waste my time watching that?". And this weather is apt to happen yearly, because after all, this is New England.
Another reason schools have a spring game is to entice recruits and show off their fanbase. But given how little BC fans seem to care or show up, would cancelling the game actually help BC? Showing off a 3/4 empty Alumni Stadium might ring hollow with recruits, while on the other hand having them on hand for a rigorous spring workout open to the public might seem a little more genuine. By hiding one of the weaknesses of the BC program, the Eagles staff may actually be helping themselves out on the recruiting trail.
I agree completely with Paul Chryst, if BC was to just go about their business at practice, open up a few to the public, the team would be no worse off. Let's face it, unless you are Texas or Alabama, Spring games are pretty pointless, and BC fans have shown over the years that having one isn't necessary. Last year, due to the Boston Marathon bombing manhunt, the spring game was cancelled, and because our minds were elsewhere, it wasn't really missed. If BC was to say "no more Spring games going forward" do you think people would be upset? I don't. However, I doubt Steve Addazio and Brad Bates would ever change this but the reasons for cancelling it or replacing it are pretty clear and reasonable.