INDIANAPOLIS — For nine draft prospects at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, the final game of their college careers never happened.
Not officially, at least.
This past December, the Servpro First Responder Bowl between Boston College and Boise State was delayed nearly 90 minutes due to lightning in the area, then subsequently canceled with BC leading 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
It was the first time a Division I bowl game ever had been called off due to weather. The game, which was to be played at Dallas’ famed Cotton Bowl, officially was declared a “no contest,” and all statistics were wiped from the record books.
“It was brutal,” BC tight end Tommy Sweeney said Friday. “Going down there after a full season with that team, a lot of seniors’ last game — all of our last game with that unit — we had a really tight team, and we accomplished a lot of things. We’ve got a record amount of guys from BC here at the combine, a lot of good underclassmen. We’re all real close. And just to go out like that, it was very unfulfilling.”
Brett Rypien, a four-year starter and three-year captain, was Boise State’s quarterback in the game. He took just 11 snaps before Mother Nature intervened.
“It was very bizarre,” Rypien recalled. “We had a great week there, too, and we were all excited to play. We get out there in the first quarter, and it didn’t look too bad, and then all of the sudden, the storm came out of nowhere.
“We get into the locker room, 30 minutes goes by, nothing. An hour goes by, nothing. And then two hours later, Coach walks in and tells us that the game’s over, and very weirdly, guys start to realize their career playing football is done and they didn’t get to play in their last game. So it was an emotional moment, and at the same time, very weird.”
Rypien’s Broncos, who entered the game with a 10-3 record, had been looking to close out their season on a positive note after losing to Fresno State in overtime in the Mountain West Championship. The 7-5 Eagles were seeking their first eight-win season since 2009 after finishing 7-6 in four of head coach Steve Addazio’s first five seasons in Chestnut Hill.
“So much preparation went into that game, and guys were really excited to get our eighth win and try and do something special at BC,” said guard Chris Lindstrom, whose pull block helped spring running back A.J. Dillon for the lone touchdown of the abbreviated contest.
“Then, the circumstances happened with the lightning and stuff. Nothing you can do but to move on from it. I am thankful looking back on what a great season we had, being able to play on College GameDay and stuff. It was a great season. Not the ending we were looking for, but it was a great season.”
Both teams spent a month preparing for their bowl clash, which, in a cruel twist, was held the day after Christmas, forcing players, coaches and traveling fans to spend the holiday away from home. All for nine minutes and 52 seconds of football that, in the eyes of the NCAA’s official record-keepers, never took place.
“I guess it could have been worse if we lost, but that way was just like falling off an edge,” Sweeney said. “You’re just sprinting, and you’re with everybody, and then all of the sudden, there’s just nothing there, and it’s just over before you even get a chance to do anything.”
Thumbnail photo via Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports Images