Open Letter To Gene DeFilippo, Director of Athletics For Boston College
Ok, so I’m a little bit woozy after my trip to Chestnut Hill to watch Clemson win a road game to give Dabo Swinney his first victory as head coach. I only spent 3 days in New England, but I already find myself talking like those northeasterners. That’s a bad habit that needs to be kicked quickly for this southern boy. But contrary to popular opinion, these northerners do treat their visitors well and I am appreciative of that.
This article is actually two years late. I wanted to write this article in 2006 when I made my first trip to Chestnut Hill to watch Clemson play Boston College. It was a heartbreaking loss in a well played game, but I felt that writing this article in the aftermath of that 2006 game would make me come across as being a bit of a sore loser.
Since we won Saturday, I’ll write the article and I’ll be a sore winner.
Boston College….what in the name of college football dignity are you people doing up there?
First, you have a wonderful venue to watch a football game. Alumni Stadium, while not the biggest venue that we see in the ACC, is nestled in a beautiful area that is a stone’s throw away from the great city of Boston. I’m glad that every two years I, along with thousands of Clemson fans, have the opportunity to visit one of America’s greatest cities to watch our beloved Tigers play.
But for goodness sakes, you people have no idea what college football is all about.
I’m not going to get into the tailgating restrictions that are placed on the area surrounding Alumni Stadium. It’s obvious to me that when I drive through Chestnut Hill that the tail wags the dog when it comes to accommodating outsiders. Chestnut Hill has some pricey houses that are owned by a bunch of really, really rich people. If those people don’t want people tailgating in their city after the game, I guess there is nothing that the good folks in the Boston College athletic administration can do to refute them.
So I’ll give you a pass on your antiquated and absurd tailgating rules, but I’m not going to ignore what happens inside the stadium.
Let me begin by saying Boston College has a band. Seems to me they have about 100 students that comprise that band, by rough estimate. I would take a gander that the BC band is similar in number to Tiger Band.
Boston College’s athletic administration thinks so much of this BC band that they place a microphone in front of them. This microphone is connected to a set of speakers that are placed in every single section of Alumni Stadium. And when I say every single section of the stadium, I mean every single section of the stadium. The speakers are on poles in the upper decks. The speakers are embedded in the walls and in the overhangs for those that sit in the lower deck.
For some reason, BC’s athletic administration feels like piping and amplifying the band into every section of the stadium is appropriate for a college football game. While piping in the band, they are also amplifying the noise from their student section, which is directly beside the band. In other words, they really only need about 20 students to show up for the game and they can sit those students beside the band and in front of that microphone and “create” a hostile environment.
To describe how loud they pipe the band into the stadium, I must illustrate. I was sitting in the endzone Saturday afternoon, literally 30 feet from Tiger Band. When Clemson made a good play and Tiger Band would crank up, I could not hear them. Not because we only took a pep band to Boston. The reason I could not hear Tiger Band was because I had a speaker behind my ear that was synched with the microphone that was amplifying Boston College’s band from the student section.
As a starter, this is a disrespect to the BC band. No other band in the ACC has a microphone in front of them that is piped into the stands. None. That means zero. And the BC band does not need this artificial amplification to be heard as they are a quality band that plays throughout the game. If BC’s athletic administration wants the band to be louder, tell them to blow harder.
But the bigger insult is to the BC fans in that the athletic department thinks so much of them that they feel the need to amplify the student section and band to “cover” for the average fan sitting in the seats.
No wonder BC fans don’t get loud and cheer for their team. The band and the student section are amplified all around the stadium, making the paying fans useless when it comes to making noise.
When Clemson made a big play in the 4th quarter, I got so frustrated with the speaker behind me that I went the concession stand to get a drink. The concessions stands have TV’s in them, which is a good thing for those of us that don’t want to miss any of the action. When I went to the concession stand in the first quarter, I was able to follow a couple of plays in the Clemson/BC game on the televisions that were hanging up behind those that were serving the drinks and hot dogs.
But in the 4th quarter, when I snuck out to get a drink, I was amazed at what I saw. On the same televisions that had the BC/Clemson game earlier in the day, the television now had Delaware vs. James Madison. So, I went to the next concession thinking I could watch the game while I waited in line. Guess what? Delaware vs. James Madison was on that tv too. For the record, James Madison beat Delaware 41-7 in a barn-burner with national implications that everybody in Alumni Stadium and around the world would be interested in. Insert sarcasm to the sentence above.
So it reminded me of the same thing that I felt in 2006 but I felt like I could not write about due to the fact that Clemson lost the football game and I would come across as a sore loser.
The question for the Boston College athletic department is pure, and simple. Do our good friends in New England have any idea what it means to be a big time football program?
Great football programs don’t place microphones in front of their band. Great football programs don’t take that microphone and synch it up with speakers throughout the stadium. Great football programs don’t show games against teams I’ve never heard of at the concession areas when they could be showing their game.
So, Boston College, what do you want to be? Do you want to be embraced by the ACC as a member in good standing that gives as much to the conference as you get? Or do you, deep in your heart, care about ice hockey and lacrosse more than you care about football?
The shame of all of it is that BC fields a good football team. The Eagles have been to the ACC Championship Game, something that Clemson fans clamor to do. Chestnut Hill is a nice city and the trip to Boston could be a highlight for opposing ACC teams.
But as it stands, you don’t allow tailgating, you pipe your band and student crowd noise all across the stadium, and you don’t even place the BC games on the TV monitors in the stadium. I garnered the impression Saturday that I care way more about this game, having traveled thousands of miles, than you Mr. Boston College.
Not only is that embarrassing, it makes Boston College the red-headed step child of the ACC. On the surface, even Duke cares more about football than BC does.
So I’m being a sore winner. You are better than this, Boston College. Let’s see if you choose to be a part of the ACC or if you are going to be content to be that unique trip to Boston where opposing fans go to see the Red Sox and to go on Duck Tours.
The choice is yours. I am officially a sore winner.