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Boston College: not a ‘backup college’

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, February 10, 2005

Congratulations to the Irish for an impressive victory over Boston College in men’s hoops on Tuesday night. This letter is in regards to “Abstain from storming the court,” written by Bill Coffey in Tuesday’s edition of The Observer.

Coffey’s disrespectful article regarding Boston College damages Notre Dame in much the same fashion that it undermines his own presumptuous judgments concerning Boston College. Coffey’s article exemplifies why much of the non-Domer world considers Notre Dame to be arrogant and insular.

Coffey implores circular reasoning in almost every anti-Eagle diatribe. First of all, Notre Dame has lost more than four games against Boston College, including the heart-breaking game at the end of the 1993 season in which Notre Dame was on a seemingly smooth road to a national championship. Certainly, Bob Davie and Tyrone Willingham, two of Notre Dame’s “worst coaches,” cannot be blamed for that loss. Second, Boston College has been a loyal member of the Big East conference since its founding, consistently choosing well-developed rivalries and deep conference play above all else. When the opportunity came for the Eagles to move on to the ACC, they weighed their options and made a wise and balanced decision to join what they considered to be an academically and athletically progressive conference. If Coffey disdains Boston College so much, why write bitterly towards Boston College’s exit from the conference?

By what measure is Boston College basketball overrated? They were the first team in Big East history to ever start a season on a 20-0 run. In beating the Eagles, the Irish turned themselves into legitimate tournament contenders and accomplished something that many other Big East teams had failed to do against Boston College – get a win. Fourth, Coffey fails to establish any grounds to support his theory that Boston College wishes to be like Notre Dame. Coffey’s metaphor insists that when one team beats another football team in consecutive games, the winning team desires to be “desperately” like the team they defeated. Using this reasoning, we could effectively conclude that Notre Dame wishes to be like Navy but not like national champion USC. Coffey also ignores the reality that there is honor in battling to beat the most storied football program in the history of college football, and a certain amount of pride in actually doing it. As such, Boston College should not feel apologetic for its victories over the Irish. Nor should the players on those Irish teams feel disappointed by the losses. Upsets happen all the time in college sports.

By insisting repeatedly that Boston College is not a rival of Notre Dame, Coffey seems to put forth the de facto argument that Boston College is a rival of Notre Dame. (Case in point: Contrary to Coffey’s advice, the fans at Tuesday’s game reacted to the Notre Dame victory by storming the court. Would they have done the same had the Irish defeated an unranked or otherwise irrelevant team?) Further, there is a difference between rival and archrival. For example, Michigan has several rivals, but Ohio State is the archrival. You can be the former without being the latter. Any Boston College fan will insist that Boston College’s biggest athletic rival is Boston University, an archrivalry that is played out on ice, not on grass.

But Boston College also maintains healthy rivalries outside of the Notre Dame spectrum, like the University of Connecticut and Providence College in basketball. Sadly these will be left behind as Boston College switches conferences, but such is the nature of NCAA sports. New rivalries will be formed, others will fade. Any sense of rivalry gleamed by Boston College students with respect to Notre Dame may arise from the fact that the two schools share Catholic roots, inspire similar alumni loyalty and field roughly the same number of students. While Coffey seems infatuated with Boston College, rest assured that Boston College fans do not reciprocate such attention.

Sixth, Coffey’s label of Boston College as “Backup College” and his further attack on Boston College’s academics are unfounded. Last year 22,500 students applied to Boston College for an entering class of 2,250. Were all 22,500 applicants choosing Boston College as a backup to Notre Dame? Do all Notre Dame applicants choose to apply to Notre Dame as a backup to Northwestern? As Boston College undergraduates, we met very few students who applied to Notre Dame, fewer who applied to Notre Dame and didn’t get in and yet even fewer who were even mildly unhappy with their experience at Boston College after four years. In addition to being trite, smug and juvenile, the “Backup College” label is itself inherently contradictory. Not every Boston College student grows up dreaming of the Golden Dome.

Lastly, Coffey’s article contains one other fatal flaw – a lack of respect for his audience. Many of The Observer’s readers have relatives and friends who either attend or have attended Boston College. Indeed, a profound mutual respect has long existed between the institutions. Notre Dame Law School, the Mendoza College of Business, amongst others, all boast a good number of Boston College graduates, the authors of this letter included.

As Notre Dame students, we attend all Notre Dame football games to cheer for the Blue and Gold, we participate fully in University life and we continue to be awed and humbled to be part of this wonderful community. And we are convinced that as Notre Dame students, we can profess our loyalty to this school in more productive ways than by belittling and degrading, without merit, another fine institution.

Jeff Christoforetti

BC ’99, ND Law ’05

Tom Gallagher

BC ’00, ND MBA ’05

Kory Kramer

BC ’99, ND Law ’06

Jeff Robinson

BC ’00, ND Law ’06

Eric Silva

BC ’00, ND Law ’07

Andrew Wotlman

BC ’00, ND Law ’06

Feb. 9