In a blog post, Boston College athletic director Brad Bates addressed most, if not all of the criticisms following the release of the 2015 football schedule. Most of these things we already knew were out of BC's control but there are a few worth rehashing here.
Playing seven home games: Control. For our students, fans, team, recruiting and the sake of competitiveness, we try to play seven home games every year. At the town hall meetings two years ago, this was an emphasized focal point: Our fans like having seven opportunities to see the Eagles at Alumni Stadium. For the most part, we do have control over the number of home games although the precise weekends must match your desired opponents. It will become more complex beginning in 2017 when the ACC continues its eight-game conference schedule plus adds a requirement to play at least one non-conference game against a "Power Five" team; scheduling will require more home-home contracts.
Bates got absolutely crushed by season ticket holders when he took over, inheriting three straight seasons with just six home games. So the motivation for having a seven-game home schedule, particularly with one Friday night home game a year, is clear. Bates is also right that it will become much more complex beginning in 2017 with a dearth of available Power 5 conference opponents.
Playing two FCS schools: Control (assuming contracts will be honored). We absolutely would never want to play two FCS schools in the same season. One of our contracted FBS schools for this season, however, backed out of our contract at the 11th hour and left us scrambling to find a 12th game.
Bates is of course talking about New Mexico State here. Now I'm not privvy to the details of the contract. It may have been that BC just had to assume that the Aggies would honor their contract until they didn't (else it would be BC, not New Mexico State, that was breaking the contract), leaving BC to scramble to find a replacement. But we've known that New Mexico State had one too many 2015 non-conference opponents for several months now. Ultimately the 2 FCS scheduling issue will be a nonfactor assuming its a one-off and the program doesn't finish the year bowl in-eligible at 6-6 with 2 FCS victories (so, either bowl-eligible at 7-5+ with 2 FCS wins, or 5-7 or worse).
Weeknight games: No control. As part of the league's television contract, which all the member institutions agreed upon, ACC teams share the responsibility of playing a minimum number of weeknight games and the conference determines how those games are distributed in the schedule.
Obviously BC has no control over the weeknight games. In fact, there's even more of them starting this season. Let's just hope Bates's wording here—"ACC teams share the responsibility"—pertains to BC, specifically, being off the hook for hosting a Friday night home game. At the very least, a one-year reprieve from hosting a Friday night home game in 2016 would be most welcome by BC season ticket holders.
The last bit was also pretty telling:
Opponents: 50% control. Just because we want to play someone doesn't mean they want to play us and, with the success Coach Addazio has instilled in our program, fewer teams are interested in coming to Chestnut Hill. Once the opponent agrees to schedule BC, the dates (and years in home-home contracts) must match; the ACC limits the number of weekends for non-conference games thereby requiring precise matches between the two schools on open dates.
I'm fine tooting Addazio's horn a bit here, but I think this goes a bit deeper that the past few seasons' moderate level of success. I've always wondered about the motivation of a Power 5 conference opponent to enter into a home-and-home agreement with BC. It makes sense for a select few P5 programs—Notre Dame, USC, regional rivals like Penn State and schools that tend to schedule academic peer schools like Northwestern—but playing at BC isn't for everyone. Alumni Stadium is tiny, large State U's alumni base in Boston isn't all that large and the Northeast isn't a particularly valuable recruiting territory. Combined with some unfavorable Power 5 conference non-conference scheduling trends and it's going to continue to be very difficult to bring Power 5 conference programs to the Heights with regularity.
That said, it's going to be very important for Bates to go out and land a home-and-home agreement with a Power 5 conference opponent for 2016. Supplies are limited, so BC needs to work quickly to secure a Big Ten, Big 12, SEC or Pac-12 opponent for the following year's schedule. Given the backlash from fans and season ticket holders this season, I don't think the program can afford to have a 2016 schedule consisting solely of Group of 5 and FCS fodder.