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What If? BC To The Big Ten: A Hockey Perspective

Despite minor impediments such as "reality," some BC fans on the (myself included) have kicked around the idea of what would happen if the Big Ten came calling for the Eagles. We take a look at the ramifications from a hockey fan's point of view.


First, a bit of background before I jump in:

Grant Salzano: One of the posters on Eagle Outsider made a comment that BC should be on the phones with the B1G in the event that they are eventually expand to 16. While I agree wholeheartedly from a football standpoint, that would just be catastrophic for hockey.

Joseph Gravellese: Facts:

-- There's no way the B1G wants BC.
-- There's no way BC would not jump at the B1G if they came calling.
-- Yes, it would ruin BC hockey.

Grant Salzano: I originally thought they wouldn't want BC either. But why would they want Maryland and Rutgers? Because their business model is to snatch up eyeballs. And what's the next biggest market on the east now that they snatched up DC and NYC?

The SEC focuses on product, the B1G is focusing on eyeballs. In essence the SEC is grabbing a bunch of hundred dollar bills while the B1G is instead going for five times as many twenties.

Having said that, I agree with your last two bullet points. It comes down to whether stability of the department as a whole is more important, or the dominance and perfect fit conference for the hockey program is more important.

Unfortunately the clear answer is option 1, and that would ruin the hockey program, like you said. It would be catastrophic.

So, let's start off by saying, full disclosure, I do not think the Big Ten is going to come calling. Just because BC is in a TV market, there are a handful of more important factors that would keep the Big Ten from showing any interest, not the least of which is the conference bylaws (BC is neither in a state contiguous with a Big Ten state, nor a member of the AAU).

But what is the internet for if not to discuss things that are never going to happen?

The ACC's collective heart rate has definitely gone up a bit with Maryland jumping ship. Not because anyone really cares about the Terrapins taking their ball and going west, but because it opens up the door, once again, to FSU, Clemson, and others jumping for greener pastures. So naturally it's got everyone looking out for Number One and trying to make sure they'll still have a seat at the big kids table once everything shakes out.

The BC pipe dream among a select few of us, should Notre Dame not fully join the ACC and lead the conference toward real stabilization (which will only come from getting a better TV deal, but this isn't the article for that), is "Hey, BC should totally be on the phones with the Big Ten, you know, just in case."

While joining the Big Ten would put BC in a stable football conference and make the athletics department more secure financially, it would be absolutely catastrophic for the hockey program and would effectively destroy BC hockey as we know it.

Overreaction? Let's follow the dominoes.

Boston College joins the Big Ten for all sports, including hockey. Hockey East is completely thrown for a loop. The Eagles are forced to leave their nearly perfect bus league mostly bus league in favor of the already maligned Big Ten Hockey Conference.

Now, the conference is a veritable Who's Who among college hockey programs in Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, plus Ohio State and Penn State. But BC students can no longer attend road games without ponying up hundreds for airline tickets.

The Beanpot and BC's rivalry with BU remains largely unaffected, as conference affiliation has nothing to do with the the February tournament and BC would likely sign up with, at a minimum, and annual non-conference home-and-home against the Terriers. However, almost no BC students attend the conference championship in Detroit or Minneapolis. The diehards made the trip to Ford Field in 2010, and there was a very good contingent, but almost no one, including myself, would be able to justify ponying up for the conference tournament halfway across the country, especially when we always have such high hopes for the Frozen Four.

Unfortunately, those annual Frozen Four hopes may be short lived. We would go from annual Frozen Four expectations to annual NCAA tournament expectations, if we're lucky. Recruiting will be affected dramatically. Oddly, the school that would benefit the most, far and away, from a BC move to the Big Ten Hockey Conference would be Terriers. BU loses nothing. They still get their annual games against BC out-of-conference, and are in Hockey East.

The BC and BU recruiting pitches to local kids at the moment are really, very similar:

1) Come play in the best rivalry in college hockey
2) Come play in a conference where your family can travel to almost every game
3) Come play for a school where your conference championship game is played five miles that way [points east].
4) Come play for a school that has many games televised regionally on NESN, so if your family can't come, they can still watch you.

The Terriers keep all that, but for BC:

1) Come play in the best rivalry in college hockey -- Yes, we keep this, but it's diminished when our biggest focus needs to be on the conference game coming up against Ohio State or something.

2) Come play in a conference where your family can travel to almost every game. Nope.

3) Come play for a school where your conference championship game is played five miles that way [points east]. Nope.

4) Come play for a school that has many games televised regionally on NESN (and NBC College Sports!), so if your family can't come, they can still watch you. Nope. Enjoy those grainy "Directional Fox College Sports" feeds.

BC's recruiting changes dramatically to the point where they need to start trying to recruit elite players from other parts of the country, they'll get their share of kids, but no longer will be able to assert the dominance we'd gotten accustomed to over the last decade and a half.

And what of Hockey East? Their best program gone, they try to fill the void with Quinnipiac or RPI. They'll be fine, but their reputation as the best conference in the nation takes a hit.

The rumor of UConn possibly being invited to the ACC presents the only worse option for BC fans. Way worse. And it has nothing to do with how exhausting it's been trying to tell all the UConn fans that I work with that we don't want them back ("So UConn calls me up and they're like, 'I still love you,' and I'm like... 'I just... I mean this is exhausting, you know, like, we are never getting back together. Like, ever.'")

The problem that arises for BC fans is that a UConn addition would put the ACC at three programs with a D-1 hockey program in BC, UConn, and Notre Dame -- a situation that requires just one more program for the conference to be required to add a hockey conference, whether it's Syracuse, Penn State (lol), or Other. This would be absolutely devastating, though fortunately, it does at least have a possibly solution in accepting the other Hockey East schools on as hockey-only members and renaming what is already "Hockey East" into "The ACC Hockey Conference." But it's a road no one wants to walk down in the event that isn't possible, for whatever reason.

Nonetheless, while football conference realignment is being tracked closely by BC fans everywhere, the hockey fans are waiting on pins and needles to see what happens even more so.

Given the ACC doomsday scenario of FSU, Clemson, and others jumping ship, would I be okay with BC sitting in what would basically amount to a renamed-old-Big-East football conference with a few southern elements sprinkled in, in the interest of saving the hockey program? Probably, yes. That might not be the popular opinion with the general BC fan population, but for us hockey fans, that may be the most common point of view.