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Boston College fans weigh in on UConn and ACC

Some fans favorable about UConn potentially joining ACC, others adamantly opposed

Managing Editor

Published: Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08

BC Back


Boston College fans get moshed after a BC touchdown during the game against Virginia in Chestnut Hill, Mass., Saturday, Oct. 8, 2005. The Eagles defeated the Cavaliers 28-17.

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. ­– On Nov. 12, Boston College fans gathered in Chestnut Hill on a beautiful autumn day for the final home game of the season. Coming into the game, the Eagles stood at 2-7 and were in the midst of the program's worst season in over a decade, but for the fans in attendance, the home schedule would end on a high note. Led by the efforts of junior linebacker Luke Kuechly, who recorded 18 tackles including nine in the final 13 minutes, the Eagles were able to hold off NC State to win 14-10.

After the game, members of the Gridiron Club, a prominent BC fan group, gathered outside the stadium for the final tailgate of the season. During the postgame festivities, two Gridiron Club members named Rich Pano and Rich Callahan got into a debate over UConn, the merits of the school potentially joining BC in the ACC and the possibility of a rivalry budding similar to that of UConn and Duke.

"When you compare UNC to Duke, the BC-UConn rivalry is not at all close to that," Pano said. "People might think that they're comparable, but lets be honest, UConn just moved up to D1 how many years ago?"

"They've been in a BCS bowl," Callahan responded.

"They went to a BCS bowl, but lets be serious," Pano said. "They definitely have the advantage in basketball, but at the same time they can't compete yet in football."

"Why do you figure they can't compete?" Callahan said. "They've been to a BCS game. They're more successful than Boston College at this time."

"In the Big East," Pano said.

"In the Big East? What against powerhouses like Duke?" Callahan said.

The debate raged on, and it continues throughout the BC fanbase. Whether the issue is recruitment, market dominance, perceived superiority or sheer spite, what is evident is that the community is not unanimously in agreement with the school administration's view that UConn must be kept out of the ACC at all costs, and the reasons for people's views vary widely.

"We wanted to be the New England team."

It's no secret that the Boston College administration is adamantly opposed to the thought of UConn joining the Atlantic Coast Conference. In a Boston Globe article that ran on Oct. 9, BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo said so, point blank.

"We didn't want them in," DeFilippo told the Globe. "It was a matter of turf. We wanted to be the New England team."

When the ACC formed its expansion committee to explore adding new teams, the two schools initially targeted were Syracuse and UConn, thanks in large part to their geography and their success in basketball. But while Syracuse was welcomed with open arms, DeFilippo, who was on the 12-man expansion committee, objected.

According to the Globe, BC argued that Pittsburgh would be a better fit with their long-standing tradition in football and a great basketball program of their own. While schools like North Carolina and Duke, who have thrived together as rivals, didn't understand the passion in BC's argument, they accepted Pittsburgh as an alternative, leaving UConn out in the cold.

There have been a number of reported reasons for BC's objection: Bitterness over a 2003 lawsuit, recruiting concerns, media market concerns and simple unwillingness to let UConn gain any more credence.

But do ordinary BC fans agree?

Turf war

In general, the most common objection that fans seemed to have was that UConn could potentially steal recruits away from BC.

"Recruiting would be impacted because then a lot of the players who might come to BC could go to UConn," said Phil Weber, a BC fan who has had season tickets for over 20 years.

But Pano had a blunt assessment about the quality of the recruits that UConn would be stealing.

"There are no recruits in the New England area!" Pano exclaimed.

Callahan agreed, explaining that BC and UConn are already competing for recruits out of the same markets anyway.

"It's not worth fighting for recruits in the New England area," Callahan said. "Everyone is fighting for recruits out of New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania."

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