College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Friday, September 26, 2003
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
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'
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Among the programs the Pirates are ranked ahead of in the Sagarin standings
are South Florida, Kansas, Connecticut, Vanderbilt, Indiana and UAB.
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
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,”
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