C'mon now, New England football needs a little bit of venom
The piece of real estate where fans of UConn and Boston College meet to share common denominator information is no bigger than a throw rug, perhaps limited to a vigorous disdain for BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo.
BC loyalists view him as petty and meddlesome, not merely exiling Tom O'Brien, Al Skinner and Cathy Inglese, but bearing the responsibility for three of the best coaches in school history to leave with bitter feelings.
UConn fans see DeFilippo as the author of BC's decision to drop an anchor in the lagoon of the ACC, somehow keep the Huskies from sharing the same waters and pooh-pooh a potential BC-UConn football game.
In the wake of recent developments, however - DeFilippo is now BC's "outgoing" athletic director and is done Sept. 30 - the potential for UConn-BC football should gain traction.
Former Boston Globe writer Mark Blaudschun who writes a college sports blog called "A Jersey Guy" wrote Sunday that BC wants an athletic director in place Oct. 1 and could pay in the range of $550,000. Not a bad gig. The new boss, who we pray has nothing in common with the old boss, should see the value of the UConn/BC game about 35 seconds after sitting in the big chair.
Here's why: The programs need each other.
Because there haven't been many Augusts in New England where the oncoming college football season has been met with bigger yawns.
Surely, there are diehards. And maybe BC's opener with Miami attracts more than nominal attention. But this is my bet:
Walk into any barbershop, gin mill or diner - places where people talk sports routinely - anywhere in Connecticut or eastern Massachusetts. Ask the Connecticut people to name five UConn football players. Ask the Massachusetts folks to name five BC football players. Your success rate might not reach the Mendoza Line.
It's probably a bigger sin in Connecticut, where the state university has a wider appeal and where the shadows of the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins don't occupy the media's time and force college sports to page four. Hardly the point, though. The bigger issue is that both schools need a game that will mobilize some venom. Venom is good.
The BC people can act as if they don't need UConn. The UConn people can act like they've "surpassed" BC as a program. Free country.
Now for a blinding dose of reality: What game on the UConn schedule this year really gets us all breathing into a paper bag around here? And BC? The only home games to sell out since Matt Ryan left have been against Notre Dame.
An annual UConn-BC game would give us a taste of what it's like in other parts of the country during Rivalry Week. It's doubtful our cultures could summon the same hostility as Ohio State-Michigan or Auburn-Alabama. But it would be fun trying.
Plus, it would give both schools a chance to sell and showcase their programs during a week of heightened awareness. It's especially true in Connecticut, where the program needs selling. BC will never capture the hearts of the Boston sports fandom. But for a week, the idea of some venomous chatter between the fan bases would make for some fun.
Much of the hostility would be centered around BC's move to the ACC - they just can't let it go here - and how DeFilippo was the point man in preventing UConn from joining. Not buying it. Never did. Public opinion in Connecticut paints BC as an afterthought in the ACC. Yet its athletic director wields a certain power? Seems counterintuitive.
BC never prevented UConn from becoming part of the ACC because the ACC has never clamored for UConn.
But, hey, if rumors make for a better rivalry, believe what you want.
BC's new athletic director needs to be able to sell athletics. It's not a rabid fan base. But Alumni Stadium and Conte Forum have had their moments. Some of them have come with the Huskies in town.
So let's all drop the rhetoric and understand that you don't have to like the other guy to need him. Every good story needs a villain. So, Mr. New BC Guy, call Warde Manuel and let's get this done. Rivalry Week awaits.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.
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