There is no game that means more to the Boston College football program than the Red Bandana Game, and there is no opponent that means more than Notre Dame. The combination of the two make this Saturday’s Holy War an even more special occasion than usual for all parties involved, but perhaps not for anybody more than Phil Jurkovec.
Jurkovec arrived on the Heights after starting Irish quarterback Ian Book announced over the winter that he would be returning to Notre Dame for a fifth season. Head Coach Brian Kelly was never going to play Jurkovec, with all his talent and sky high potential, over the more experienced Book who has played a substantial role in bringing Notre Dame back into the national spotlight. Jurkovec has referred to Notre Dame as his “dream school” on multiple occasions, but there was no way he was riding out another season there on the bench, and it is hard to blame him for feeling that way. The 6'5 gunslinger is an elite talent for any program and has proved so in a change of scenery after taking the ACC by storm with 15 touchdown passes and a conference-leading 2,083 passing yards, both of which beat out his former mentor, Book.
Saturday provides Jurkovec with a chance to show Kelly what he is missing out on in front of a national audience on ABC, but Jurkovec’s breakup with Notre Dame has not been messy at all, despite the animosity bubbling up on campus all week. Phil Jurkovec told the Boston Globe that his time at Notre Dame was a great learning experience for him by practicing and preparing with NFL players, even if he had to watch from the sidelines each weekend.
The friendships he built with his teammates in South Bend are as strong as ever, except when it comes to the field of course. It might be unusual for Jurkovec to line up against his friends in a different shade of gold for once, but the Pittsburgh native has some experience doing so before. While at Pine Richland High School, Jurkovec dueled DL Kurt Hinish from Central Catholic and OL Joshua Lugg from North Allegheny multiple times. Also for the first time in his life, Jurkovec will not be playing alongside fellow Pine Richland alum Andrew Kristofic.
However, if there is anybody who can handle new and unusual experiences, it is Phil Jurkovec. He had reportedly “never watched” and “did not give one crap about Boston College” before coming to Chestnut Hill, but he “threw everything out the window” and made the choice anyway because of his trust in Hafley and the coaching staff. Now halfway across the country at a new school and commanding a whole new offense, Jurkovec looks like a seasoned veteran at BC. His first season as a starter has had its ups and downs, but it has gone just as well as anybody could have imagined when his transfer to BC was first announced in January. Both programs are ecstatic with the way the split has gone so far, but much like in 1993, Jurkovec could have Notre Dame fans thinking “what could have been” for years to come with a colossal upset this Saturday.
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