College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Friday, January 23, 2004
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
Imaginary bowl spawned
CyberEast of New Bern
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There’s no question that East Carolina won the first annual Virtual Bowl,
the brainchild of Boneyardbanter.com poster Doug Groome.
With John Thompson and the football coaching staff poised to enter the
height of the recruiting season, Groome correctly figured last month that
ECU was going to be seeking a large number of incoming players from outside
Groome, an ECU grad and financial planner in Charlotte, knew that out of
state tuition is significantly higher and conceived a means to generate some
additional revenue for the Pirate Club, whose fund-raising efforts largely
underwrite the cost of athletics scholarships.
Although ECU wasn’t going to a bowl, as had become more or less a habit for
the Pirates in their not-so-distant history, Groome said, ‘Why not sell
tickets to an imaginary bowl?’ Posters on the Boneyard had fun with it.
Because it was virtual, there were any number of entertaining scenarios —
the Beatles and the Rolling Stones appearing at halftime, etc.
Barbecue Bowl and Beach Bowl were among names suggested but Virtual Bowl
Groome credited Jason Whichard, former president of the Charlotte area
Pirate Club chapter, with helping the movement from an organizational
standpoint. The event was structured such that tickets were priced at $30
each and the Pirate Club began getting checks from true ECU fans.
Pirate Club executive director Dennis Young said Thursday that over $20,000
had been raised by the impromptu project.
“That was $20,000 we didn’t expect and it helped us set an annual giving
record,” Young said.
Assistant Pirate Club director Matt Maloney said the Virtual Bowl pushed the
Pirate Club over its annual goal of $3.45 million.
The Pirate Club plans to select a fan from among those who supported the
Virtual Bowl to team with Groome and raise the Jolly Roger adjacent to the
players’ entrance to Bagwell Field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium from the Murphy
Center next season before the first home game with Wake Forest.
The Virtual Bowl was a statement about loyalty and belief in ECU football
after a 1-11 season. It reflected the enthusiasm that Thompson succeeded in
generating about the program since his arrival despite the dismal record.
“Virtual Bowl ticket sales are a great testament to Pirate fans and their
support of our program,” said interim athletics director Nick Floyd. “It
shows the true Pirate spirit in going the extra mile to do anything and
everything they can to help the program.”
Young had said he would shave his head and Maloney had vowed to get a Mohawk
if Virtual Bowl ticket sales reached certain levels. Young’s plateau was a
“When you put a price on your head like that it’s got to be a pretty high
threshold,” Young explained.
It was a heartwarming grassroots display even if it didn’t bring new
hairstyles for the Pirate Club brass.
“It was really an enormous amount of money considering there was only a
short period of time to promote it and it was during the holiday season,”
Groome said. “Hopefully it had a positive impact for players, coaches and
The Charlotte Business Journal did a blurb on the novel effort. Groome’s
preacher at Dillworth United Methodist Church, Duke Ison, even delivered a
sermon about turning negatives into positives that was based on the Virtual
“Hopefully, we’ll go to a real bowl next year,” Groome said.
The Pirate nation can say a big “Amen” to that.
board the Pirate ship
And speaking of those out of state football scholarships, ECU has added
football commitments from running back Chris Johnson of Orlando (Fla.)
Olympia High and offensive lineman Chris Sellers of New Mexico Military
Institute in Roswell, New Mexico.
Johnson is another blur in terms of speed with an electronically-timed
10.62-second 100 meters on his high school resume. He is also the 12th
Florida high school player to commit to ECU and showed plenty of potential
despite playing in only the last four games of his senior season because of
a fractured fibula earlier in the year.
Sellers, who played on the high school level in Newport News, Va., will
enter ECU as a junior with the possibility of a redshirt year remaining. The
305-pounder played tackle and tight end in New Mexico Military Institute’s
option offense. Incidentally, President George W. Bush visited Sellers’
school in Roswell on Thursday.
With signing day less than two weeks away, the latest pair of verbals
brings to 28 the number of players reported by
Bonesville.net to have committed to joining the ECU
recruiting class of 2004.
moving to Dallas
Conference USA’s pending move of its league office from Chicago to Dallas
makes sense from the standpoint of geography. With DePaul and Marquette
moving to the Big East, the Windy City is no longer within the league’s
There will be significantly more C-USA members in Texas than any other state
when realignment is completed for 2005-06. C-USA commissioner Britton
Banowsky has maintained a residence in Dallas since following Mike Slive as
the league’s CEO. Dallas is a transportation hub so the transition, due to
be completed by July, should be seamless.
committee meets today
The ECU athletics director search committee will meet this afternoon. The
committee plans to go into closed session immediately after convening in
order to review, discuss and evaluate candidates for the position, according
to the the university news bureau.
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02/23/2007 12:44:53 AM