Sunshine at The Heights--for now

Mark Blaudschun

They were all there. Past, present and future Boston College backers who were desperate to hear some encouraging words about BC athletics

And on Monday at a press conference which brought all segments of the BC family together, Martin Jarmond was introduced as the new BC Director of Athletics.

Jarmond delivered the message BC loyalists wanted to hear. It was filled with a reality tinged optimism. He talked about passion, something which has truly been absent at The Heights over the past several years, or at least well hidden.

""Passion is contagious,'' said Jarmond, who oozes it the way a 37-year old athletic administrator given his first job running the show should sound. "It spreads and it is the fuel that builds momentum.''

BC should embrace Martin Jarmond and his message. There is NO reason not to take it and think about a brighter future for the Eagles.

Why not?

It is the spring, right now there are NO negatives on the scoreboard against BC football or basketball, which is what big time college athletics is really all about and where BC has failed to measure up in recent years.

Let Jarmond, who will start his day to day reconstruction of BC athletics in early June, have his honeymoon period.

Let him formulate plans, which worked to a great extent at Ohio State and Michigan State.

Let him test the BC waters during the summer to see what works and what doesn't work.

What is wrong with BC athletics will not be fixed in the first 30 days or even the first 100. It will take at least one full year--365 days--to get an accurate read on how Jarmond is doing. It will take a full football and basketball season of competition and evaluation.

If a year from now Steve Addazio is still the BC football coach and the construction on new indoor football facility on Shea Field is well under way, then some of the passion may indeed return to BC.

But there are smaller things that Jarmond can do in the next few months, which can also create the passion that is missing in football from a shrinking fan base.

And they are simple, inexpensive changes.

Start with the game-experience at Alumni Stadium for football games.

Jarmond needs to give the season ticket holders a sense that things will be different by taking a section of Alumni Stadium between the 40 yard lines and turn them from benches to seats, by roping them off and providing extra benefits, which could range from ushers to waiters who will take concession stand orders. Free programs, BC sun visors or towels. Anything to enhance the game-day experience. Anything that is different that makes having a seat in those sections different and better.

Make those seats at Alumni Stadium THE place to be on game day, not the shrinking parking lots. Make BEING in the stadium a special time.

So what if the stadium capacity size shrinks by a few thousand seats to provide some individual seating. If things work out , smaller will be better, because tickets will be harder to obtain. And people will have a more enjoyable time even if the football team does not win.

The change to the stadium can be made during this summer and promoted as part of the season ticket package.

And then there is the business of scheduling non-conference games, something that has been an absolute disaster under Brad Bates for the past few years.

One of Jarmond's duties at Ohio State was football scheduling. But finding opponents has never been a problem at OSU.

What Jarmond needs to do right now is anchor at least two of BC's non-conference games for the next decade. Start the season with a game in Foxborough against UMass on Labor Day weekend--preferably on Thursday night. It is the perfect way for BC and UMass to open each season and they can alternate serving as host at Gillette Stadium.

Then Jarmond should end the charade BC and the Atlantic Coast Conference have of ending the regular season with a rivalry game. Syracuse-BC doesn't move the excitement meter very much.

End the season on Thanksgiving weekend each year not against Syracuse or Wake Forest--the way last season ended--but against UConn.

And spare us the yelps from BC loyalists who say UConn isn't worthy.

Any school which has had schools such as Wagner, Buffalo and Howard the past few years is in no position to dictate anything. It's a fair game in which fans from both schools can plan their Thanksgiving weekend travel plans each year and it is tinged with animosity.

armond should have some leverage in the other two non-conference games.

Pick an FBS school for one slot such as Maine or even New Hampshire or URI and then play a marquee team such as an Ohio State or a Purdue which are already on the schedule or a Texas or USC or some other Power 5 school which will generate some chatter.

From that base, BC can build its program, build a fan base, create some passion.

Those two areas--game day stadium experience and scheduling--can be dealt with quickly and easily or more easily.

It will be a good way for Jarmond to spend his summer at The Heights.