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College Sports in the Carolinas


View from the East
Friday, September 26, 2003

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Kramer: Candidates gauged by more than wins


With Conference USA bracing for a broadside hit with the possible loss of Louisville, Cincinnati, DePaul and Marquette to the Big East, C-USA has looked at some potential new members including Rice, Tulsa, Marshall, Central Florida and Southern Methodist.

While the movement on the Big East front seems to be underway, the ACC’s interest in a 12th member may pick up after an NCAA panel indicated its opposition to permitting a conference championship in football for leagues with fewer than 12 teams.

“The changes the ACC made will have a domino effect,” former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer said, referring to the league's annexation over the summer of Miami and Virginia Tech. “How it all plays out — it’s too early to know. It may continue over several years.”

An ESPN poll during Nebraska’s win over Southern Miss on Thursday night indicated 48 percent of respondents favor including all I-A teams in the Bowl Championship Series. Only 20 percent wanted to keep the system as is.

How the BCS survives beyond 2005 will be a key in college football. East Carolina's interest in the Big East depends on the Big East retaining its spot in the BCS, which is questionable with the move of the Hurricanes and Hokies to the ACC.

East Carolina is 0-4 at a time when it appears that more dominos are ready to tumble in the fallout from ACC expansion.

“Winning is a short-range issue,” said Kramer, a key player in the founding of the BCS who has advised ECU in the potential conference expansion process. “Winning never hurts anybody, don’t get me wrong. But was it a factor when South Carolina joined the SEC? I’m not sure. (Winning) has some impact. I don’t think it’s an overwhelming impact.”

ECU churns out 'Tuesday in Ficklen' promotions

Pirate Club members have received vouchers for two tickets to the Houston game at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and a letter from first-year East Carolina coach John Thompson encouraging attendance for the Conference USA contest.

“We are going to Paint Pitt Purple,” said the letter from the coach. “Show everyone your Pirate Pride by wearing your Purple and Gold that day and then let’s show the nation on ESPN2 our Pirate Pride by packing Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in front of a national audience as the Pirates play host to Houston.”

ECU officials are actively promoting the nationally-televised game. There are tickets available for $5 for military personnel, public school employees, ECU faculty and staff, and Greenville and Pitt County workers. If you want to see this game, there’s no reason that you can’t for minimum cost.

There are also endzone packages available for the Houston game. For $50, you can get five tickets and a $15 voucher redeemable at stadium concession stands. There’s also a $40 package which includes four tickets and a $10 voucher and a $30 deal with three tickets and a $5 voucher.

A mid-week game produces special challenges to marketing. Many people prefer to watch the game on television with work the next day and are hesitant to bring children on a school night. Those factors are more pronounced the farther away fans live.

But empty seats don’t look good on national television either — especially when ECU is looking to put its best foot forward in terms conference affiliation.

Sagarin ratings

Some interesting information from the Sagarin ratings published by USA Today, which are compilations of computer ratings by Jeff Sagarin. Guess where ECU’s strength of schedule ranks nationally? Would you believe No. 2? That’s right. New Mexico State is ranked No. 1 in terms of strength of schedule.

The Aggies have faced Texas on the road, Western New Mexico, and made trips to Oregon State and New Mexico. I’m not seeing how that schedule is ranked ahead of ECU’s. The combined record of ECU’s opponents is 11-4. The combined record of the Aggies’ Division I-A opponents is 6-5. The Pirates have played two teams which are currently unbeaten — Miami (4-0) and Cincinnati (3-0) while New Mexico State has not played a I-A team whose record is unblemished.

The Pirates are 88th in the Sagarin ratings with a rating of 66.21. Just ahead of the Pirates at No. 87 is next week’s opponent, the Houston Cougars, who are rated at 66.69. With three points factored in as the home team, ECU will be about a 2 1/2-point favorite over the 3-1 Cougars, according to Mr. Sagarin.

Among the programs the Pirates are ranked ahead of in the Sagarin standings are South Florida, Kansas, Connecticut, Vanderbilt, Indiana and UAB.

Fork Union

The first football win in the John Thompson coaching era came on Tuesday afternoon as reserve quarterback James Pinkney led the Pirates past Fork Union Military Academy before a crowd of 539 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Actually, Thompson let graduate assistants Larry Shannon and Shep Campbell coach the Pirates.

The jayvee game let the ECU coaches look at some players who had not seen extensive action for the varsity as well as peruse the talent in the Fork Union program, which incidently is where Pirates running back Art Brown prepped.

Pinkney completed 10 of 17 passes for 149 yards with two touchdown passes to Bryson Bowling, who had six catches for 98 yards.

“It was fun to be on the field for the first time in two years,” said Pinkney, a redshirt freshman from Delray Beach, Fla. “I feel I established myself as a decent quarterback. I still have some things to work on. The coaches told me I did a good job and to keep working.”

Thompson said Iverick Harris may return some kicks based on his jayvee performance. The Pirates coach also credited the play of Pinkney, running back Dominique Hatcher and true freshman defensive back Kyle Chase.

“We’re going to have to look at those guys a little bit harder in practice,” Thompson said.

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02/23/2007 12:41:42 AM

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