Area college coaches excited for Fenway football
The boys of autumn upstaged the boys of summer yesterday at soggy Fenway Park.
A spring Nor’easter postponed last night’s first of a three-game series between the New York Yankees and the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
The Sox’ plan was to have the coaches and select players from the six New England college football programs competing in the Fenway Gridiron Series to throw out the first pitch.
But the only pitch made at the media gathering inside the State Street Pavilion was to entice area fans to come out and see college football at Fenway in November.
The series is the creation of Fenway Sports Management and begins with a clash between Ivy League rivals Dartmouth and Brown on Friday, Nov. 10.
UMass and Maine will rekindle their old Yankee Conference rivalry on Saturday, Nov. 11, and Boston College will take on UConn in a Big East reunion on Saturday, Nov. 18.
“I’m really into the geographic games and for us to play a nonconference game here is awesome, and it will have some regional fan interest,” BC coach Steve Addazio said. “That is the motivator as far as I’m concerned.”
Football at Fenway Park dates back to its opening in 1912 and grew to include high school, college and professional games. The Boston Patriots played their AFL home games at Fenway from 1963-1968.
Notre Dame and Boston College brought football back to Fenway when they clashed Nov. 21, 2015, as part of the Shamrock Series. The fourth-ranked Irish survived a fourth quarter BC rally to prevail, 19-16.
“It was an electric experience and I’ve been in a lot of great venues in my college football career, but getting off the bus here at Fenway when we played Notre Dame two years ago was an incredible atmosphere,” Addazio said.
“The fan energy inside the park was just fantastic and I’m looking forward to playing Connecticut and it will be another great day of football.”
Back at UConn after a stint at Maryland, Huskies coach Randy Edsall is looking to revive the program, and playing a Power 5 conference team at an historic venue is a good way to attract attention. Like Notre Dame in 2015, UConn will be the home team.
“It’s a great opportunity to come here to Fenway and play in this venue and to play Boston College and kind of get back to the old Big East days when we were playing,” Edsall said. “I know our fan base is excited and our players are excited having the opportunity to play here at Fenway.”
UMass plays its home games against top tier opponents at Gillette Stadium. But Fenway represents a different type of experience according to coach Mark Whipple.
“To me it’s a special day and we’ll sell it that way to our kids,” Whipple said. “When you walk into the place it just has a real mystique and it is a special place. Our guys have played in a lot of great places but this will be special for them.”
The coach with the deepest Fenway connections is Dartmouth’s Buddy Teevens, who grew up in Pembroke and attended Silver Lake High School.
“I’m a South Shore guy and the Red Sox were iconic in the old days with (Frank) Malzone and (Carl) Yastrzemski and (Tony) Conigliaro,” Teevens said. “For my players whom I recruit from all over the country Fenway Park is iconic in the sport of baseball and they will play a football game here.”