Was it worth it?

Douglas Gulasy

Saturday’s Kent State football game against Boston College could have been so much better.

I’m not talking about the game itself, although I’ve been more excited watching paid programming at 4 a.m. than I was watching the game.

No, the football team’s performance wasn’t that bad, even though I was in Cleveland Browns Stadium’s end zone more after the game than the Flashes were during it.

This was no 44-0 loss to Minnesota, as the 2006 season opener was – Boston College has the potential to be a good team this year. The Flashes couldn’t get much going offensively, but that has more to do with Boston College’s strong defense than a stagnant Flashes’ offense. Also, Kent State’s defense settled down after a shaky first quarter and played pretty well the rest of the game.

I can’t fault the Flashes for their effort or performance in this game. It’s hard to open up the season against a team like Boston College.

But there was a problem with the Patriot Bowl. The problem with the Patriot Bowl was the Patriot Bowl itself.

The Patriot Bowl sounded good in theory. It gave the Flashes a chance to play a season opener against a big-name team for a trophy in an NFL stadium. Plus, it was nationally televised … although calling ESPNU national television is a bit of a stretch.

But in practice, the Patriot Bowl was a failure. Only 10,788 people came out to see the game, a far cry from the 30,000 the Kent State athletic department hoped for. Because Cleveland Browns Stadium has a capacity of over 73,200, the people who watched the game on ESPNU saw a lot of empty seats.

This game could have been so much more. It was originally supposed to be the Flashes’ home opener, a big game to show off Dix Stadium’s new renovations.

If the game against Boston College had been held at Dix Stadium, a good crowd of students likely would have shown up and given the Flashes a home field advantage. More than 20,000 people came to the home opener against Minnesota in 2006.

“I believe if we would have had it at home, there would have been a lot more students that would have came to the game, and I think we would have had more fanfare at a home game,” senior linebacker Derek Burrell said. “Some people didn’t want to travel or couldn’t travel to Cleveland, which is 45 minutes away. I think we would have filled up the stadium if we would have had it at home.”

There’s no doubt playing in Cleveland kept many students from going to the game. Instead of taking a free campus bus to Dix Stadium and getting into the game for free, students had to either find their own transportation or pay to take a bus to Cleveland, then pay for admission to the game. That’s not exactly a way to attract students.

Look, I understand the athletic department’s motivations for playing the Patriot Bowl. But that doesn’t mean I agree with the decision to move the game from Kent to Cleveland.

Senior quarterback Julian Edelman put it simply at a press conference yesterday.

“I’d much rather have had it at home,” Edelman said.

Burrell agreed. I agree. So would a lot of students on campus, I’d bet.

Contact assistant sports editor Douglas Gulasy [email protected].