This past Saturday was a little surreal. On its surface, everything about it seemed pretty ordinary. It was game day, and like most BC football games I’ve experienced over the last couple years, my day sort of followed the same routine.
Wake up early. Rally with the rest of the roommates. Shower, get ready, throw on the SuperFan shirt. Let’s say, prepare for the game with the help of a few beverage-themed competitions. Head to the Mods. Tailgate. Eat burgers, try dips, perhaps a few more beverages. Head to the game, attempting to go on time but, like clockwork, show up just in time to miss kick-off. Enjoy the first half with gusto. Throw a friend to count the points after a touchdown. Try to remember all the words to “For Boston” (wisdom’s earthly fane? vane? mane?). Enjoy getting to sit down for a couple minutes at halftime. Cheer for the last half of the game. Watch as the Eagles (hopefully) close out a win. Watch the clock as it hits four zeroes. Roar as the team comes barreling down to the end zone to celebrate. Raise fist. Sing Alma Mater. Post-game festivities, head home, nap.
For the last four years, about six Saturdays every fall, this would be my routine. I’m sure most of you across the Heights have similar ones. And though it seemed so familiar, so comfortable, this last Saturday, every once in a while, I would get hit with a realization that left me with a knot in my stomach.
This is the last time I am going to do this.
This past Saturday was the last time I will be getting up early and leaving the house with my SuperFan shirt on. The last time this year that the Mods will be a) awake and lively on a weekend morning (save maybe Marathon Monday) and b) filled with students in a matching yellow sea of shirts. The last time this year I’ll get to stroll through the Mod lot or Shea field and smell the hot dogs, burgers, steaks and beers. The last time I will probably ever stand in the student section at Alumni Stadium.
Maybe some of you reading this didn’t quite have as strong of a reaction, and can’t really relate to this. But I know some of you did, and I even witnessed and comforted some of you shedding a few tears as the game drew to a close -- you know who you are. Every senior in Alumni Stadium on Saturday had some sort of response, and I’d be willing to bet that each one was joyful, unique, but in all likelihood at least a little sad in their own way.
As weird as it is to think now, when I first set foot on the BC campus, I really didn’t care too much about BC football. Don’t get me wrong, I love football; it’s been my favorite sport since I could walk. However, once I got to BC, for some reason college football never really appealed to me.
If I had to guess, it was probably because the Eagles reminded me a little too much of the NFL team I root for: the Buffalo Bills. I have always loved the Bills and I always will, though as much as I would not like to admit it, rooting for the Bills isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world. I think at first the parallels to BC football were too strong for my liking.
Middling organization well past their days of former glory? Check. A struggle to find the right quarterback to fill the shoes of the legend that had moved on? Check. Lack of new players to instill hope and passion in the fan base? Check. Continual doubts about the coaching staff? Double check. Persistence on utilizing a half-back draw on third-and-long (this one is more of a personal grievance)? Check. Mediocre performance on the field year after year after year? Check, check and check.
Needless to say, after I had already experienced years of disappointment with my favorite NFL team, I wasn’t exactly excited to experience more of the same in college. And those first three years at BC didn’t inspire too much confidence for a turnaround, either.
I think I can speak for a majority of BC fans that the Spaz era of BC football was discouraging, frustrating and worst of all, forgettable. 2010 saw the greatest amount of success, as the Eagles ripped off a five-game winning streak to end the season to get to a bowl game, before ultimately falling to Colin Kaepernick’s Nevada Wolf Pack in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. 2011 was filled with promise after the bowl game appearance the year before, but this hope was dashed on the field with a 1-6 start, and an eventual 4-8 record. I think we’d all just as soon forget 2012’s ugly 2-10 season. No, safe to say those three years of BC football didn’t exactly compose an era worth remembering.
However, during that time period I started to care more and more about the program, and I realized that while the team itself wasn’t the best, I fell in love with the other elements of a BC home game. The atmosphere around Alumni Stadium on Saturday mornings -- the tailgating, the student sections, the level of intensity that students and fans alike brought with every ESPN televised night game were each incredible.
Though the program was in a bit of a slump, it became clear to me that being a SuperFan meant more than just the team’s number of wins and losses, but instead a level of pride in my school and my classmates. To put it simply, I finally started to enjoy BC at its finest. As I walked out of the Notre Dame game in 2012, I couldn’t help but think “Man, if we were so hyped up for this game, imagine how it would be if the program pulled a 180?” As fate would have it, before my senior season started, Frank Spaziani and his look of perpetual bewilderment exited the picture, and Steve Addazio entered it.
Coach Addazio busted onto the Heights preaching reform, recruiting and most importantly, being a dude. I wished for the program to turn around for my last year at BC, and turn around it did. Fast forward just a few short months, and BC is bowl-eligible, sitting on a 6-4 (3-3 ACC) record. Senior QB Chase Rettig is having his best year as an Eagle, senior LB Kevin Pierre-Louis is making plays all over the field, Coach Addazio is a semi-finalist for Coach of the Year, and, oh yeah, this guy named Andre Williams is leading the NCAA in rushing yards or something like that. Not bad for a team that was projected to come in dead last in the ACC.
I won’t harp on the season successes of the Eagles, as there is still a fair amount of football to play. The Eagles know the job isn’t close to finished, but I’d like to think that Coach Addazio doesn’t have to tell his team that.
This past Saturday was the last home game I will get to experience as a student SuperFan, and luckily, it was the absolute pinnacle of my BC football fanhood. The Eagles clinched a bowl-eligible record, Andre Williams set an ACC record for rushing yards in a single game with 339, and after the game all the fans were invited onto the field to celebrate with the team (classy move by the BC football program, by the way). As far as bittersweet moments go, I’d have to say walking off that field and knowing my BC football experience as a student was over is pretty far up there.
Given the circumstances, I wouldn’t have wanted it to end any other way. Now let’s run the table and take home that bowl trophy.
Follow @BCGavelSports on Twitter for the latest updates on Boston College athletics.