During the UMass hockey game against Boston University at the Mullins Center three Fridays ago, Jay Frost and I were seated near a small but vocal group of red-clad BU students whose chants included, “Rough ‘em up! Rough ‘em up! BC sucks!”
And again: “Rough ‘em up! Rough ‘em up! BC sucks!”
We couldn’t understand the meaning until one them turned and explained, “It’s because whoever we’re playing, we hate BC more.”
You can’t blame the BU fans for being obsessed with that other team from across town, those haughty types dressed in maroon-and-gold. Even the two schools’ nicknames aren’t much of a contest: Eagles versus Terriers, with BU playing like Yorkies since New Year (3-6-1).
Those disgruntled BU fans can take solace knowing that plenty of folks in hockey circles share the same healthy hatred for the Eagles and their indescribably successful program that’s among the all-time best in collegiate sports.
Since the new millennium, Boston College has been to eight Frozen Fours, won seven Hockey East titles and celebrated four national championships. Last Monday the Eagles won their fourth consecutive Beanpot, beating Northeastern, a team that hasn’t won since 1988.
Each year BC gets its pick of the recruiting litter. Their current roster includes seven NHL draft choices, including first-round picks Kevin Hayes (Blackhawks) and Michael Matheson (Panthers). Recently they grabbed Thatcher Demko off the U.S. Under-18 team, a 6-foot-3 goaltender that was highly prized by UMass.
The Eagles are the Kentucky Wildcats of college hockey, except coach Jerry York is a class act and the college itself is a top-notch institution. Only 28 percent of all applicants are accepted at the Heights. Kentucky takes 69 percent.
Rooting for the Eagles is like rooting for birds to fly or the snow to melt. It’s like investing money in CDs or locking the car at the police station. It’s no risk squared, a nice show but not very interesting.
Marty Tirrell called with the news on Monday that Jim Reid would be joining the University of Iowa football staff. At this writing, Reid was interviewing but had yet to be hired by Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz. It was speculated that Reid would replace Phil Parker, who had spent one year as defensive coordinator after 13 years as position coach.
Reid was fired as the defensive coordinator at the University of Virginia after the Cavs went 4-8 in 2012, but his defense was ranked 31st nationally at 353 yards per game.
“It’s a huge hire,” said Tirrell, who covers Iowa football for ESPN’s radio affiliate in Des Moines. “There’s a huge New England influence on the Iowa Hawkeyes. Ferentz coached at Maine and played at Worcester Academy, and so did two previous coaches, Ken O’Keefe and Joe Philbin, before they went to the NFL.”
Iowa opens next season against Northern Illinois and the pressure is on Ferentz to improve on last year’s 4-8 record. “Bobby Beathard’s grandson is coming in to quarterback them,” said Tirrell, referring to the former general manager of the Washington Redskins.
Reid neither confirmed nor denied he was Iowa-bound. However, when I texted him a message saying, “I will trade you one gallon of maple syrup for a bushel of Iowa corn” he texted back, “No way! Iowa corn is much better than some sorry-ass syrup.”
Trivia: Which infamous baseball was blown up, the Buckner Ball that went through his legs in the 1986 World Series, the Bonds Ball that went over the fence for his 762nd home run, or the Bartman Ball the diehard Cubs fan grabbed away from Moises Alou in the 2003 National League championship series?
Familiar faces at Bradley Airport two Sundays ago included former WHAI disc jockey Rick Archer and Greenfield’s Tim Trenholm, who works for financial planner Jeff Baker. Also Florida-bound was longtime South Deerfield resident Harriet Rogers, the treasurer of the Sugarloaf Business Association.
Archer now works for the Transportation Security Administration. Several years ago I was going through security when he pointed at me and said, “Hey, watch out for that guy.” It was one of those moments when time stops and everyone looks up.
On this day he was inspecting a set of golf clubs, pulling each club from the bag and scanning it. Trenholm was decked out in a Red Sox jacket he wouldn’t need in Fort Lauderdale. “My mother likes your column,” he said, referring to Jackie Trenholm. “Tell her any fan of my column is a friend of mine.”
The latest Florida health craze is salt therapy, which involves sitting in a cube-shaped room constructed out of three tons of natural sea salt. People relax in reclining chairs and sleep or read while breathing in the salt air being pumped in by a generator, or “Halogenerator” as it’s called. Inhaling it is said to help people with conditions like bronchitis, sinus inflammation, and respiratory allergies. We paid $45 each for our 45-minute session. I noticed nothing different afterward except a tendency to bump into chairs, tables and other people. All things considered, I’d rather have spent the money on a spring training game. Or be sitting on the beach, breathing in the salt air.
When Boston comic Louis C.K. was asked by Vanity Fair when and where he was happiest he answered the time Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant gave him an autograph. “Some local paint store hired him to sit at a table for a day and autograph leaflets advertising their special prices on paints. He looked miserable. I remember thinking, ‘This is the best moment of my life and the worst of his.’”
Trivia answer: It was the Bartman ball that a Chicago lawyer grabbed away from Bartman and sold at auction for $113,824. The ball was blown up inside a Chicago restaurant prior to the 2004 season.
Squibbers: One of the drawbacks of waiting till the last minute to see a UMass basketball or hockey game is waiting in line, often outside in the cold, at the Mullins Center box office. Why not sell tickets at satellite locations like Baseball Treasures in Greenfield? ... Reader Dave Walsh of Cape Cod reports that over 1,000 privately-owned aircraft tried to get into New Orleans for the Super Bowl. “That’s the way to go, but some were landing at airports three hours away.” … Don’t be surprised if Houston Texans’ play-by-play voice and Director of Radio Broadcasting Marc Vandermeer tries for the Patriots’ play-by-play gig that was vacated by Gil Santos. Vandermeer graduated from Williston-Northampton School in Easthampton and BU, and was play-by-play voice for UMass football and basketball from 1995-99. … Yes, Florida really does target speeders by air on the interstates. The state police use a single-engine Cessna from 2,200 feet to track scofflaws, compute their speeds, and radio ahead to the Florida Highway Patrol with the car’s make, model and color. And no, I didn’t find out the hard way.
Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for four decades in the Pioneer Valley.