Spend more than 10 seconds talking about college football with someone from Boston and you will come to one conclusion: College football in Boston may as well be amateur figure skating unless you are a a graduate of Boston College.
Yes, there may be college football fans in the city, but unless they went to BC, they have little patience for anything maroon and gold. It's a weird phenomenon, but it's a simple truth. Just like casual baseball fans know they're supposed to feel all happy inside when the Yankees lose, non-BC-affiliated Bostonians seem to like it when the Eagles lose. And apparently, so does the media.
During a chat on Monday, ESPN.com's ACC blogger extraordinaire Heather Dinich was asked what conference championship game matchup she'd like to see this year. Her response?
"Miami and anyone but Boston College."
This isn't a whining rant about how nobody respects the Eagles. (Pro-BC propaganda, maybe, but not a rant.) When they get annihilated by Virginia Tech two straight years in the conference championship game, I don't completely respect them, either. When they face the two best teams in the conference this year and end up looking like Alan versus Mr. Chow, I know to keep quiet for a few weeks.
But still. This team has lost its coach and its best linebacker, it still hasn't compensated for the fact that Johnny Ayers has been gone since 2007, and it has yet to find any kind of identity in the post-Matt Ryan era. And still — despite a loss to division rival Clemson — the Eagles find themselves atop the Atlantic standings, six games in. That's kind of honorable.
This may be as good as it's going to get for BC in 2009. This may be the top of the hill for them. Every game from here on out is losable. But given the way this team has performed for the past three years — even after losing Ryan, its best wide receiver and its best running back in one season, even after losing its prolific punter and two head coaches and all of its dignity in two straight conference championship losses — it's hard to say that they can't make another run at glory all over again.
If you love sports, it's hard watching a seemingly underqualified team reach the apex every single season when you could be watching Clemson or Florida State put up a better fight. But if you love sports, it's also fun to watch the underdog keep pressing on — because someday, even though that underdog hasn't stood a chance before, it will make something cool happen.