Some of the best things about college football are the traditions that each school builds to make its home games a unique experience and stand out amongst its peers. Think of a big-time college football school and, more often than not, the devoted college fan will instantly think of a tradition that school is famous for. Florida State?? The Tomahawk Chop and War Chant, and Chief Osceola's flaming spear. Notre Dame?? Touchdown Jesus (OK, it's a landmark rather than a tradition, but as you'll see it goes to the same point I'm getting at) and "Play like a champion today". Tennessee?? The Volunteer Navy. Clemson?? Rubbing Howard's Rock and "The most exciting 25 seconds in college football".
The point is that, as BC aspires to join the ranks of the country's elite college football programs, the school needs to develop its own athletic traditions. BC has historically had little success in establishing long-standing traditions; this is a result of many factors.
First, the school is not helped by the fact that it has little in the way of historical rivalries. This, it has to be said, is through no fault of our own. The BC-Holy Cross rivalry, which lasted from the early 20th century until the early 1980s, was a great one; but it was forced to come to a close when Holy Cross inexplicably decided not to go D1A in football. (The folly of this decision can be seen clearly today--whereas Holy Cross was the slightly more prestigious institution before the football split, BC is now a truly national university, receiving the 4th most applications this year of any school in the country, while Holy Cross is still a regional school.) Notre Dame proved to be another promising rivalry, but after a string of BC victories the Surrenderin' French raised the white flag and the series' future after the 2010 game is in doubt (although, as Notre Dame shares two bowl tie-ins with the ACC in addition to the BCS, it will only be a matter of time before the teams meet again even if the regular season series is never continued after 2010). Connecticut might have developed into something had BC stayed in the Big East, but the fact is that New England's only other D1A program is simply not in the same class as BC at the moment. BC's best hope for a long-term ACC rival is Maryland, the conference's only other (borderline) northern school, and a school that has a similar fanbase to BC and, like BC, is located in the suburbs of a major northeastern city. All that aside, however, rivalries help build tradition, and it is difficult to build tradition without major rivalries.
Second, the general apathy towards the football program among large segments of its fan base does not help. Thankfully this situation seems to be gradually improving, but there are far too many BC fans, mostly older, who are content to go to games and simply sit on their hands rather than vocally supporting their teams. Perhaps the most obvious example of this came not in a football game but in the NCAA hockey tournament regional final against BU this year, when the DCU Centrum in Worcester was evenly split between BC and BU fans; while most of the BU fans, however, were vocally supportive of their team, BC's active support was for the most part limited to a half-section of students who had made the trip from campus. (The one time when all of BC's fans did raise their voices, during a 2nd-period goal review, the noise was deafening.) The same phenomenon is often seen in football. When the fans even show up--which they didn't against Wake Forest and Virginia last year--they are far, far too quiet. No-one's expecting the entire stadium to jump up and down for the entire game as if they were in the student section, but joining in the "Let's Go Eagles" chants and making noise to disrupt opposing offensive signals would be a nice start.
Finally, some of the blame has to fall on the athletic department itself. While they have done some nice things here--the band's playing "Sweet Caroline" during the 4th quarter of every game never fails to get the crowd riled up, and the song has become almost a second fight song for BC; the playing of the school Alma Mater after each home game with the players' helmets raised is enough to raise up the haira on the back of your neck--there are other inexplicable gaffes. The tailgating situation is unfortunate, but the best BC can do here is to work with the surrounding neighborhoods. However, BC had begun to establish a tradition that it recently abandoned. Once upon a time, the Alumni Stadium PA system blasted The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" as BC's team took the field. The connection to BC wasn't apparent but it didn't matter--it was our song, and when we heard it we knew it was time to cheer on the Eagles. Virginia Tech has Metallica's "Enter Sandman", and we had "Won't Get Fooled Again"--until BC stopped playing it last year. Why??
There are a number of things the school can do to help establish tradition. One of the major things it needs to do is actively re-connect with its Irish roots, perhaps even begin to challenge Notre Dame as the favored team of Catholic America. Second, the school needs to market itself as the only major college sports program in Boston (in football and basketball, anyway)--encourage alums of BU, Northeastern, UMass, UNH, etc. to support their respective schools in D1AA ball but unite to support BC as New England's college football team.
Just a shot in the dark here--why not bring in the Dropkick Murphys, who recorded a Gaelic-punk-rock version of "For Boston" on their album "Sing Loud, Sing Proud", to play a concert at BC's home opener each year?? In addition to fulfilling both of the aforementioned goals, the event would become a tradition in and of itself, similar to the Murphys' annual St. Patrick's Day weekend concerts at the Avalon.
The most important thing to do, however, is to hold on to those developing traditions which are taking hold. So with that said, and with the home opener against Clemson just 38 days away, we ask you, Mr. DeFilippo, to GIVE US BACK THE WHO!!!
(I did a Yahoo image search of "The Who" looking for a picture of Pete Townshend and the boys, and this was the first result that popped up. Not exactly what I was looking for, but shit, I'm not complaining.)