In this 1-on-1 interview, Doug Flutie, the 1984 Heisman Trophy winner and former Boston College quarterback, speaks on recent changes in college football, the upcoming Blair County Sports Hall of Fame, and his legacy with the Flutie Effect.
Anderley Penwell: After three delays because of the pandemic, the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame is back. Next weekend, five individual inductees and a team will be honored.
This year’s speaker is former Boston College quarterback and former Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie. Doug, you speak at many events like this, each year, what’s your favorite part about doing things like this?
Doug Flutie: I think more than anything, it’s the interaction with the younger generation, the next generation coming up through and being a part of it. And of course, part of it is telling my stories and maybe passing my legacy on maybe to encourage them. I don’t know. You know, it may, it may not, but it’s just fun to interact and see the next generation that’s coming up through.
Anderley: You are famous for the 1984 Hail Mary game-winner against Miami and the national attention it brought BC, both academically and athletically. People call it the Flutie Effect. What do you think your legacy means for modern college athletics?
Flutie: You know, what it does is gives the small guy hope, the small school hope. Our president at a university at that time realized that the face of the university was through the athletic program. Through those years that we excelled, a lot of money came into the university and kept it alive, kept it thriving and turned Boston College– turned the corner for Boston College and propelled them into the next decades. When you look at the NCAA tournament each year that is an example– like Saint Peters is on the map, Florida Gulf Coast was on the map. You know, all of a sudden kids want to go to that school. It becomes popular and maybe some of these schools that might have been struggling at one point will flourish because of their notoriety, you know, in competitive sports.
Anderley: College football is going through a lot of changes right now, with the NIL probably being the biggest. How have you seen it affect the sport already?
Flutie: You know, it’s scary. I worry about it becoming “the haves” and the “have nots,” because the football factory type universities are going to have people that will be able to donate, that will be able to come up with endorsement opportunities for these kids. It’s almost like the rich get richer. It scares me a little bit from that standpoint. I don’t think it’s happened yet. I don’t think the numbers are that crazy yet, but what it could turn into is the “have nots” become pure college football again– to me, like the Ivy League schools.
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Anderley: How do you think it would have changed your football career, had the NIL opportunities been available?
Flutie: I really could have benefited from it. No doubt. We did not have money. I needed a scholarship to go to college. My family– we didn’t have much, so when I had three meals a day on campus, I thought I was doing good right there! And then, with the popularity that that came along and finishing third in the Heisman my junior year and going into my senior year, there would have been opportunities to put a little money in my pocket, maybe to help my family out at that time. So yes, there are benefits to it. There’s no doubt about it.
Anderley: With you being a football player, but it being so commonly linked to basketball, how do you feel the Flutie effect kind of has encapsulated American sports?
Flutie: It gives people an opportunity to see the little school, to the one they’ve never heard of, and gives that little school the event. Especially in a sport like basketball, two players can turn a basketball program around and turn you into a winner. And all of a sudden, it means millions of dollars to the university and the amazing part is you’re not sacrificing your morals as a university to have a good sports team to go there. All of a sudden, what happens is the popularity of the school increases, you get more people trying to get in and your admissions gets more elite and all of a sudden the academic standards get risen because it gets tougher and tougher to get into those schools. So, it helps the entire university top to bottom.