BC delivers with extension of Notre Dame rivalry

When it appeared as if the storied series between Boston College and Notre Dame was coming to an end this October, BC fans weren’t shy about letting athletic director Gene DeFilippo know they’d like the rivalry to continue.

“I got mail from them saying, ‘Please do whatever you can to get Notre Dame back on the schedule,’” DeFilippo said.

He did, and the series was recently extended to at least 2019, but it took the cooperation of Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, who was hired in 2008 and has obviously agreed to continue the tradition. BC and Notre Dame are the only two Catholic institutions playing FBS football and Swarbrick and DeFilippo recognized the importance of that. The programs have played 19 times, with Notre Dame leading the series 10-9.

“That’s when you have a rivalry,” DeFilippo said, “when both teams win.”

He’s right. And it’s only been in recent years that BC has evened the scale, winning seven of the past nine games. In order to make room for the Irish, BC had to bump its series with Buffalo back. The Eagles will now open the 2015 season at Buffalo and host the Bulls in 2016.

The so-called “Holy War” rivalry is important for BC because it gives the program national television exposure, and most recruits are impressed with the opportunity to play historically significant programs like Notre Dame. The Eagles will also face USC in 2013 and 2014. Notre Dame is on the schedule again in 2015, and Stanford comes on in 2016 and 2017.

So for the next eight seasons, BC has at least one nonconference opponent fans can be excited about. More importantly, though, BC fans should be boasting about their nonconference record.

  • Since 2000 -- including bowl games -- Boston College is 44-6 against nonconference opponents.

  • From 2000-2004, the Eagles were 24-4.

  • From 2005, when Boston College joined the ACC, through the present, the Eagles are 20-2.

The Eagles’ scheduling philosophy works, as DeFilippo and coach Frank Spaziani have worked together for a balance between lining up the big boys and more unheralded opponents the program should beat.

“We play eight very, very difficult ACC games,” DeFilippo said. “So we have to be very, very careful. You have to pick and choose. You have to make sure that you’re scheduling strategically. But there’s some important things here, too. You want to be sure that you’re giving yourself a chance to recruit, and that your fans are going to be excited and your players are going to be excited to play those teams, which ours are. It just makes sense that BC and Notre Dame play.”