College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Monday, March 1, 2004
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
Meaning of BCS's move up in
The Bowl Championship Series is
expanding with a fifth bowl game
after meeting in Miami Beach with the Coalition for Athletics Reform led by
Tulane president Scott Cowen.
How much of a victory this is for “have not” leagues such as Conference USA
is subject to debate.
The pending addition of a fifth bowl may have been driven as much by the
desire of several bowls below the BCS plateau to move up to major player
status as it was from pressure by Cowen’s group, which counts East Carolina
among the schools it represents.
The champions of six BCS conferences — Big East, ACC, SEC, Big 12, Big Ten
and Pac-10 — will maintain automatic berths in one of the five BCS games,
according to an Associated Press report.
The new system will have four at-large berths, two more than at present, to
be decided by a formula that will factor in national rankings. The fifth
bowl will apparently join the BCS lineup after the current BCS contract runs
out. The AP report said that will take place before a new BCS contract goes
into effect before the 2007 season.
The Fiesta, Rose, Orange and Sugar presently comprise the BCS rotation. The
Orange Bowl is scheduled to host the 2004 BCS championship game.
The BCS bowls generate more than $110 million a year for the conferences
whose champions have an automatic berth. The BCS gives about $6 million a
year to smaller conferences. Frohnmayer said, according to the AP report,
the money to non-BCS leagues will increase.
Whether the increase amounts to more than a few extra crumbs for C-USA, the
Mountain West, et al, compared to the cash flow to the “have” conferences
will also be a factor in measuring how successful Cowen’s coalition has been
in closing the competitive gap in college football.
One of the stated functions of the BCS system was to avoid the split
national champion scenario that had occasionally resulted in the major polls
prior to its inception. The system failed in 2003 with LSU winning the BCS
title and Southern California finishing atop the AP poll.
The AD search
The search committee for the athletics director’s position at ECU convened
near the Raleigh-Durham Airport to interview candidates Friday and Saturday.
The field had been screened from applications. The committee apparently did
not employ a consultant firm, which are often used to identify candidates in
this type of hiring process.
The intent of the search at this point is to narrow the field to several
candidates. When the new chancellor has been determined, possibly as soon as
mid-March, the selection process will resume under the new chancellor’s
The field of candidates outlined in Friday’s column contains potential hires
from within and outside the ECU community. All factors being equal in the
interview process, the committee is thought to favor those with ECU ties in
narrowing its list.
Richard McDuffie, current Eastern Illinois AD, is an ECU graduate. Jeff
Barber, Gamecock Club director at South Carolina, interviewed well,
according to one source, and is an ECU grad. The candidacy of Nick Floyd,
who is serving as interim AD, was boosted by calls of support to committee
members from Mike Slive, commissioner of the SEC. Floyd worked in the C-USA
office under Slive when Slive was the C-USA commissioner.
There are those who were impressed by the youthful enthusiasm of Oklahoma
assistant AD Rick Hart, the son of former ECU AD Dave Hart, now AD at
Florida State. The personable older Hart was extremely popular with some
power brokers in the ECU community during his time in Greenville and a lot
of the father can apparently be seen in the son.
Dennis Young’s ties to ECU probably shouldn’t be underestimated. An alumnus
who played in the football program, Young’s work in fund-raising as
executive director of the Pirate Club has enabled much of the impressive
facility development that has taken place in the last 12 years. Young has
some influential backing and is motivated by devotion to his alma mater
regardless of the role in which he is serving. His background in accounting
gives Young some of the business acumen that the AD position demands. The
result of his candidacy may ultimately be determined by an evaluation of how
his talents may best serve the university. Make him AD and you lose an
effective leader for the fund-raising arm. One doesn’t exist without the
other and Young is a proven commodity in his present position.
Former Indiana AD Clarence Doninger interviewed well, according to one
source. He has a law degree and is the only one of the known candidates who
has experience as an AD at a Division I-A program. But, he has no ECU
Maryland assistant AD Joe Hull and Wichita State AD Jim Schaus lack the
extra credit of direct ties to ECU and appear to be darkhorses to advance to
the final round of interviews with the new chancellor.
Successful LeClair Tournament
The first annual Keith LeClaIr Invitational was successful on several
fronts, not the least of which was bringing together friends of the former
Pirates baseball coach, stricken by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2002,
for the celebration of his 38th birthday on Saturday.
In addition to that, the event was well attended, pointing up the need for
the new stadium which will be constructed for next year. The tournament also
allowed the Pirates to
showcase their potential in a pair
of wins over nationally-ranked Clemson, a program that dogged the Pirates
21-1 in the NCAA Tournament in 2002. Two wins over the Tigers and two wins
over Georgia Southern indicate that ECU, now 12-0, is deserving of moving
into the national rankings.
Although the field for next year’s LeClair Invitational is subject to
change, as evidenced by the apparent withdrawal of Western Carolina this
year, the list of potential participants in 2005 is impressive — Ohio State,
Michigan, North Carolina, Arizona State, Clemson, Georgia Southern and the
Pirates. ... If you build it, they will come.
The travel factor
The point has been made before that ECU’s men’s basketball team flies
commercially to many of its road games. This is in contrast to many of
Conference USA’s elite programs which either charter or have their own jets
“Certain teams at the top have advantages,” said ECU coach Bill Herrion.
“There’s no need to complain. There’s not much we can do about it. It’s part
of the deal.”
Sometimes the Pirates have had to bus to Raleigh-Durham for flights.
The ECU football program flies charter from the Greenville airport the day
before games and generally returns to Greenville the night of its games.
The hoops Pirates, winners of three straight, leave Tuesday for a Wednesday
night game in Milwaukee against Marquette. The team will fly out of
Greenville to Charlotte for a connecting flight to their destination.
They’ll fly back Thursday and leave Friday for Hattiesburg, Miss., where
they meet Southern Miss in the final regular season game on Saturday. They
fly back to Greenville on Sunday.
If the Pirates make the C-USA Tournament field, they will be playing in
Cincinnati on Wednesday, March 10.
The travel situation is cumbersome. It’s tough enough to win on the road
under the best of conditions, not to mention missed class time and its
consequences for student-athletes. The upside may be frequent flyer miles.
One question for potential ADs might be how they would improve the travel
situation for basketball.
Spring time means football
It should feel like spring today and Tuesday.
Although the change of seasons won’t be official on the calendar until later
in the month, ECU starts “spring” football workouts on Tuesday with a number
of interesting offensive subplots at work. Among those are a new system
under the direction of new offensive coordinator Noah Brindise and
competition at quarterback with returners Desmond Robinson and James Pinkney
and Florida transfer Patrick Dosh. Brindise is intent on emphasizing the
dual abilities of running backs Art Brown and Marvin Townes, a pair of
1,000-plus yard rushers.
A high school coaches clinic is coming up this weekend featuring University
of Miami (Fla.) quarterbacks coach Dan Werner. For information, call the ECU
football office at (252) 328-4570.
The spring game is Saturday, March 27.
Coach John Thompson and most of the staff went through spring ball at ECU
“We know where we need to get better and we know our players,” Thompson
Will it be the Bulldogs?
A report from a television station in the Louisiana Tech market has
apparently indicated the Bulldogs will be offered the slot in Conference USA
being vacated by Texas Christian. Louisiana Tech has agreed on conditions
for C-USA membership that include expanding the capacity of its football
stadium and increasing its athletic budget, according to the report.
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