California has been a recruiting ground for both BC athletics and prospective students for years. In fact, there are 575 undergrads from California - only New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut are better represented at BC. Additionally, the rate of applications from California is increasing at a very impressive rate. In 1980, BC had just 49 students from CA, 101 in 1985, 184 in 1990, 408 in 1995, 380 in 2000, 427 in 2005, and a whopping 534 in 2010. So obviously BC's influence in California extends beyond just athletics, but I've come up with three basic reasons why I think BC athletics are so successful in California.
- Boston: Simply put, Boston is considered one of the coolest places to live for college students. Boston has broken into Hollywood big time with several blockbusters (Good Will Hunting, The Departed, The Town,) and a slew of other quality flicks (Boondock Saints, Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, 21, The Social Network, etc). I'll take the liberty of not including "Celtic Pride" or "Fever Pitch" on the list. The city of Boston and its culture is, and will continue to be, an object of fascination for the rest of the country. It's a big city dominated by Neighborhoods. It's the cradle of Democracy in America. You could argue that Boston is out-shined by New York, but really, where in New York City are you going to play football? And outside of St. John's, there really isn't a New York counterpart to BC basketball either. Schools like Oregon have a "coolness factor" from their uniforms, and I think BC gets a less-pronounced, but similar, bump from "the Boston factor." I also think that this "Boston factor" increases proportionately the further you go from Boston. Boston probably seems a lot cooler to a kid on the West Coast than one from Connecticut.
- Easier to Hide Flaws: Our two biggest flaws as an athletic department right now (outside of a certain football coach) are the fact that BC has never been fully embraced by native New Englanders, and the fact that there has been lackluster student support. If you're a high school kid from Southern California, you're probably thinking that Boston's support for BC is something like LA's support for USC. It's really hard to get a feel for how outside of the city BC is without spending some serious time on BC sports blogs or on campus. If I'm a BC coach, I bring recruits in for a visit on a game I know the students will turn out. It's not like they're going to drive up from Connecticut for three or four games to get a better feel for the program. Again, the further you get away Boston, the bigger this advantage becomes.
- Familiarity: In some ways, success breeds success. The first this I do when I want to know about a city or institution is I call someone I know who is there. Seriously, even as bad as the football team is, don't you think that Chase Rettig loves life right now? He's the undisputed quarterback of an ACC team, and basically a big deal on campus as a sophomore. Plus there's the whole thing where I don't know too many people who hate college to begin with. Word gets around at how much he loves BC, and pretty soon every recruit from his high school is coming for a visit...
- Talent: The obvious answer to this question was that there's just so much talent in California and not a lot of schools for high school athletes to go to. If you're a football player in California, you've got Cal, UCLA, and USC, and none of those programs are incredibly stable right now. Basketball? Head east, 'nuff said. The laws of averages say that some of those kids hit BC sooner or later.