Football with Harvard and BC

It was a cool, drizzly start to the day as my brother and I headed out from New Jersey, just after the Morning Rush. The nearby steady rain moved faster to the northeast than our drive and it was nice that our walk around the area would be mostly dry. Boston is one of the cities I vow to never drive in, so we parked in the Alewife Station and took the T a few stops to Harvard. More on that horrible train station later. Cambridge is a cool hybrid between a city and college town and we explored on foot before taking a tour of Harvard. If you want to save money, avoid the ~$20 “Hahvahd Tour” that is advertised in the Square and head to the Information Center building on Dunster Street to sign up for a free, student-led tour. Our guide did a nice job and we enjoyed the introduction to the famed school. Campus had it’s nice spots, but I’ve been to plenty of other Universities that were much more appealing. Dinner was an early one at the Russell House Tavern.

It was a 15-minute walk down JFK Street from dinner to reach Harvard Stadium. The sight was one to behold as the historic building appeared and I felt we were a world away in Greece. The concrete exterior full of open archways gave way to a horseshoe-shaped interior that featured a walkway around the top, framed by Greek-like columns. Even more ancient were the seats, err, I mean concrete slabs that were equally fascinating and uncomfortable. While the debate between comfort and nostalgia raged in my head, there was no denying the terrific sightlines in the bowl and the close proximity to the field. The game below featured a 2-0 Crimson team that took on Rhode Island and it was the Rams that got the road victory. Their QB, JaJuan Lawson didn’t seem to miss in the first half. As Rhody slowed down in the second half, Harvard made a comeback and they cut the lead to 23-16. However, their four chances with possession in the final seven minutes all failed to get a touchdown and the Rams went back to Kingston happy.

The walk back to the T station in Harvard was pleasant thanks to the acoustic outdoor vibes as people were enjoying a Friday Night out. The subway ride was simple enough, but it was the awful Alewife station that hampered the departure. Aside from the fact that the parking garage itself is literally a hazard by falling apart, we could not find our way back to the car thanks to the lack of signage. Arriving from a part of the station that is not connected to the deck is not obvious for visitors. After figuring out where we were via Google, we then searched forever for a pay station and while signs are abundant to pay for exiting, machines are just the opposite. I gave up as the place started to get creepy and we ended up at the actual exit with no way to turn around. As I put my flashers on to go on the hunt again, a worker came up from the crypt to let me pay with a Credit Card. Ugh that place is a disaster.

Once we got out of Alewife, the hotel in Waltham provided a good night sleep and we headed out to Boston College a little after 9 AM. We weren’t a season-ticket holder, nor planning on tailgating for $40, so we used a satellite parking deck in Needham, then took a shuttle over to Chestnut Hill. Not that I’m advocating getting rid of jobs, but the folks at LAZ Parking should reconsider how many are needed to direct cars into the 5th floor of a parking garage in a business complex on a Saturday. It was comical to the point of laughing out loud at the double digit number of employees it took to “direct” you up a ramp and then point to the obvious location of the shuttle bus. Well, it’s better than the opposite and if I have to park away from the stadium, BC did a great job making the process seamless. We purposely got there early, so that we could walk around and take in the sights on this gorgeous campus. Everyone will want to go check out Harvard, but Boston College is the prettier one and well worth a look. As one of the first college’s to be designed in the Gothic style, Gasson Hall is exquisite and Bapst Library beautiful. Campus is hilly and to get to Alumni Stadium, we walked down several flights of stairs, where we reached a nice mix of tailgaters along Campanella Way. 

The Stadium itself isn’t anything special as the bleachered layout features a complete lower deck and then four, separate sections comprising of an upper deck. I did find the attachment with Conte Forum to be unique and was happy to see it open for exploring (they even use concession stands inside as they share the area with the stadium). I also found Alumni Stadium to be intimate and the setting to be nice, especially from the East Stands with Gasson Hall in the background. The game was against Temple, making it a “Conference” game in my fantasy world. You see, I’m a firm believer of geography dictating conferences and I was one that really disliked BC’s move to the ACC. I get it, but don’t like it. So, my conference (let’s call it the “Big East”) would be: Boston College, Buffalo, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse and Temple. Hate away Happy Valley! The game was a high-scoring affair and BC continued piling up points with their no-huddle offense. They won 45-35 and RB A.J. Dillon was stellar again with 161 yards and 2 TD on the ground. At times, the game was entertaining, but I still am astounded to see how college football doesn’t get more flak for game length. This one was eight minutes shy of 4 hours and it featured way too many replay reviews. My brother and I passed the time by quoting Step Brothers and seeing how many situations we could apply the “Trophy Fish” line. The crowd was slow to arrive and for the most part, tepid, though they did rise to their feet and give a nice pop during touchdowns. Students showed up for the first half and then remarkably disappeared for the second half as less than 50% returned to their seats after the break. I did enjoy their sing-a-long to “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers. Didn’t know this was a new tradition and it was a nice surprise. I also liked “Ring the Bell”, something that made sense given the daily chimes that go off on campus.  

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