When GDF stepped to the podium at the Flynn Fund breakfast before the BC football game and started dropping hints that he was introducing a former BC quarterback, my mind immediately raced to how cool it was about to be to meet Doug Flutie. When it turned out that the quarterback, whose name GDF "couldn't remember" was Matt Ryan, my jaw pretty much hit the floor. I started ignoring my breakfast, my friends at the table, and even Shakim Phillips. I was stunned not only to see a living BC-legend but also to see that BC was using Matt Ryan as the face of the program. A few days later, the decision seems like a natural one, because as strange as it seems, Matt Ryan has officially replaced Doug Flutie as BC's most effective ambassador.
That seems so strange to say, much less write, but this changing-of-the-guard, which began with Ryan's seemingly impossible comeback against Virginia Tech, has finally been completed. Not that Doug Flutie isn't still vastly important to BC, or that he won't always be revered by the BC faithful, but between him and Matt Ryan, which of the two do you think has better name recognition in high school locker rooms across the country? When Rogers steps into a recruit's living room, will he be name-dropping Doug Flutie or Matt Ryan?
Between Flutie and Ryan, Ryan also has a better opportunity to publicize Boston College, whether that be through guest articles for Peter King or through the beginning of each Atlanta game in which Matty Ice announces that he is a proud product of Chestnut Hill. Again, Flutie has an excellent chance to publicize Boston College from either ESPN or the announcing booth, but how many non-MA natives really understand what an amazing college player Flutie was?
This changing of the guard isn't necessarily a bad thing. The more ambassadors BC has for its school and football program the better. Not only that, but Matt Ryan is about as good of a role-model as you'll find among professional athletes. He's begun studying for a masters in political science. He is very well spoken and comes off as incredibly candid with his million dollar smile. You never hear about character issues or off-the-field problems. I mean, when the guy got married he had people donate to the Flynn Fund instead of giving wedding gifts. Who does that??? He's also stepped into a franchise seemingly on the brink of failure, and brought modest football success to a region of the country where football is undoubtedly king.
Not only that, but Ryan was able to inspire confidence in a new generation of BC fans. The week after the Virginia Tech win was the only time in my life that I ever thought that BC was capable of going to a BCS game. Sadly, much of the '07 football success has been squandered in one way or another, but man that week felt good. And just as Flutie saw the BC football program through tough times in the 80s and 90s, so too Ryan is seeing the program through tough days now. Did you know that BC hasn't sniffed meaningful rankings since Ryan left? We've spent a grand total of three weeks being a ranked team in the three years since Ryan graduated, never rising above 20. While Matty Ice was QB? 22 weeks being ranked.
Again, I'm not making the case that this changing of the guard is bad, or even saying that Flutie's importance to BC is somehow diminished. I'm simply pointing out that all football programs and universities much change, and grow, or they become stagnant and stale. The fact that BC is adding additional "athletic heroes" to its repertoire is healthy and a natural fact of having a successful (even if only moderately so) Division I program.