Third Straight Bowl Creates University-wide Enthusiasm

Third Straight Bowl Creates University-wide Enthusiasm

By Reid Oslin
Staff Writer

Football players, coaches and staff are not the only members of the Boston College community preparing for the Eagles' appearance in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 28 in Nashville against the University of Georgia.
Almost as soon as BC confirmed it had accepted an invitation to the bowl, many of the 143-strong Screaming Eagles Marching Band were eagerly browsing Nashville World Wide Web sites to plan their visit to the city, according to Band Director Sebastian Bonaiuto. The band is fine-tuning its repertoire for a series of bowl-sponsored events including civic parades, concert appearances and a "Fan Walk" into the stadium on game day.

"The kids are really looking forward to it," Bonaiuto said. "It's a thriving center for music of all kinds, not just country music."

Others getting ready for BC's third consecutive bowl appearance include representatives from the Alumni Association, Development Office and the Boston College Bookstore. Those who do not make the trip to Nashville will likely join the national television audience viewing the game on ESPN at 5 p.m. that day.

A berth in the college football postseason is an occasion to celebrate, say University administrators and staff, as well as an opportunity to take the spotlight.

"A bowl game is a great rallying point for a university," said Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo. "It's exciting for the students, fans, staff and players. We all share a great sense of pride in our institution. Being invited to bowl games provides Boston College with name recognition and public exposure. That's one of the most important jobs of a university's athletic department.

"Bowl games are a great experience for the participants, too," DeFilippo said. "It's a terrific chance for our student-athletes to travel and experience different parts of the country and different ways of life from what we are used to seeing."

Coach Tom O'Brien's Eagles earned the bowl bid with a 7-4 record, only the third time in the University's more than 100 years of football history that BC has gone to the postseason three years in a row, said DeFilippo. The Eagles were invited to the Bowl in Tucson, Ariz., following the 1999 season and played in the Jeep Aloha Bowl in Honolulu last year.

Playing in post-season contests not only boosts BC's efforts in recruiting athletes but helps introduce the University to prospective students of all talents and interests across the country, according to BC athletic administrators.

"There's no doubt that going to consecutive bowl games is a serious barometer of just where your football program is," said Assistant Head Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Jerry Petercuskie, interviewed last week while on a recruiting trip to Minnesota. "It's a measuring stick for success, and a big, big help in recruiting."

Victories on the football field can also assist the University's fund-raising efforts, according to Assistant Athletic Director for Development James R. Paquette.

"Emotion plays a significant role when people are deciding on their charitable contributions," Paquette explained. "At the same time that our football team has been winning, the University has been aggressive in its fund-raising effort. There had also been a strong economy in recent years.

"In the last fiscal year Athletics realized $6.7 million in gifts and pledges," Paquette said. "That's a 40 percent increase over the previous year and we expect to break another record this year too."

Thousands of Boston College alumni and fans are expected to visit Nashville to watch the game in person, either taking advantage of the Alumni Association-sponsored trip from Boston or driving to the game from locations across the southeastern United States.

"We expect that this game will draw heavily from our regional clubs in that area," said Alumni Association Associate Director John F. Moynihan II. "We have already heard from people in Florida, the Atlanta area, North Carolina and Virginia who will be coming to the game.

"This will be a good catapult for us to reach out and reenergize our regional club activities in those areas," he said.

The growth in popularity of sports-related apparel offers another opportunity for colleges and universities playing in bowl games to make a splash. Boston College Bookstore Manager Thomas McKenna reports that he has stocked a variety of Music City Bowl items, including long- and short-sleeved t-shirts, sweatshirts and caps.

"Students like to buy these on their way home for Christmas," McKenna said. "We also sell a lot to alumni and fans, both here in the bookstore and on our Web site."


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