We are old people who mail handwritten letters and make phone calls while the rest of the world sends e-mails and texts. We are English-speaking tourists, dropped into a city square in Sicily, trying to understand what everyone is saying.
We are sports-crazed Bostonians, blissfully unaware why the rest of the country makes such a big deal out of college football.
Boston College, the only Division 1 program in Greater Boston, fired its football coach on Sunday. After four disappointing seasons, bottoming out with this year’s 2-10 bomb, Frank Spaziani was relieved of his duties by new athletic director Brad Bates.
And nobody cares. BC firing its football coach is no different than the New England Revolution sacking their head coach. It’s a scrawny birch tree toppling in a forest of mighty oaks. It doesn’t matter. That is the state of college sports in our region.
It’s just the way it is. Boston College’s basketball team Sunday lost to Bryant. Ouch. BC is a member of the vaunted Atlantic Coast Conference. BC in our lifetime knocked off Dean Smith’s top-ranked Tar Heels and almighty Duke. BC made it to the Elite Eight. Now BC loses to Bryant.
And nobody cares.
We are not a part of this college sports mania that sweeps America. We scoff at yahoo college towns and nitwit boosters who live vicariously through the deeds of 19-year-old sophomores. Nothing is more fraudulent than big-time college sports and the pathetic sycophants who buy into the phony machine. The sanctimonious NCAA guarantees that it’s possible to play by the rules and still win championships. So where is the honor, where is the pride in declaring, “Our professional student-athletes are better than your professional student-athletes? Our cheaters are better than your cheaters”?
We don’t care.
Notre Dame’s football team, ever a national sensation, is ranked first in the country and will play for the national championship Jan. 7 in Miami. The Irish are featured on the cover of the current Sports Illustrated and ABC trotted out Knute Rockne footage before Saturday night’s prime-time joust with Southern Cal.
Big deal. What time do the Patriots kick off against the Dolphins next Sunday?
The University of Massachusetts plays its home games at Gillette Stadium. The University of Connecticut has gone big time in Division 1 football and Saturday beat 19th-ranked Louisville in three overtimes.
And we ask when do we start with the NFL playoffs?
It wasn’t always this way. There were days when Boston College and Holy Cross filled Fenway Park for the renewal of their heated football rivalry. The Eagles and Crusaders drew 54,000 to Braves Field way back in 1922. Holy Cross went to the Orange Bowl. BC went to the Sugar Bowl. Vin Scully still speaks fondly of watching Harry Agganis when the Golden Greek was the best player in the country, playing for Boston University. The Harvard-Yale game of 1968 was the biggest game in the land. College football really mattered around here.
But nobody around here cares about college football anymore. As recently as 2007, the Boston College Eagles were ranked second in the nation for two weeks . . . and nobody noticed.
Sad, but true. When BC was the second-ranked team in the country (thank you, Matty Ice), the Patriots were on their way to 18-0, the Red Sox were winning their second World Series in four years, and the Celtics were in the early stages of a revival season that would put a 17th banner in the rafters above the parquet floorboards.
We are a pro sports town. So it’s hardly a story as we wait for BC to hire a successor to Spaziani — a good man who perhaps was better suited to remain a defensive coordinator.
The firing of the local college football coach is a big deal at Auburn and North Carolina State. It is the only story in places such as College Station, Texas, and State College, Pa.
Happily, we have alternatives. We have lives. We don’t really care about BC’s chances next year against Clemson or North Carolina. Life as we know it will go on even if the Eagles go winless.
Serving as coach of the BC football team is like being coach of the Revolution. You are followed by a niche of diehard fans, but ignored by mainstream fans and media.
Spaz took over in 2009 after starry-eyed Jeff Jagodzinski tried to talk his way into an NFL job while he was supposed to be coaching the Eagles. In four years, Spaz went from 8-5 to 7-6 to 4-8 to this year’s 2-10. The 2012 season is BC’s worst since Fred Smerlas captained the 0-11 Eagles in 1978.
Not that long ago (1993), the Boston College football team was coached by Tom Coughlin. In those days, Coughlin was focused on getting to a major bowl and convincing pickax-wielding Chestnut Hill neighbors that it was OK to expand Alumni Stadium. Today Giants coach Tom Coughlin worries about the Packers, the Patriots, and the Super Bowl. He has moved on with his life.
Same here. We sincerely hope that Boston College finds an honorable man who can sculpt souls, graduate players, and win a few games. But it’s OK if he doesn’t win the ACC championship. It’s only college sports. It doesn’t matter much around here. And that’s a good thing.
Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.