Some heavyweight support has lined up
on each side of the college football playoff issue in recent days.
The Bowl Championship Series is
expected to finalize a deal with ESPN that would put the BCS games on
the cable television sports network giant from 2011 to 2014.
The Fox network has had rights to the
BCS games, other than the Rose Bowl, since 2007, and its agreement with
the BCS extends through 2010. The potential deal between the BCS and
ESPN is viewed as a major obstacle for playoff proponents for the
duration of that agreement.
President-elect Barack Obama is among
those who feel the current system should be replaced.
"We should be creating a playoff
system," Obama said recently on "60 Minutes."
Obama favors the implementation of an
This writer's preference is for a
16-team playoff that involves all of the conference champions plus
selected at-large teams. The existing major bowls could host various
games in a playoff format on a rotating basis.
The bowl system is archaic. Too many
deserving teams are ultimately left out of contention for a national
title. At the moment there are five unbeaten teams and just two slots in
the BCS title game.
East Carolina coach Skip Holtz has said
he would like to see a playoff format in the highest level of college
football. The current system has created a caste system of "haves" and
Guaranteed access to the BCS games in
the power conferences means sizeable financial rewards. The unequal
distribution of resources in the bowl subdivision has created a chasm
between those in BCS conferences and those who are not, according to
Holtz and others.
Those favoring a playoff point out that
true champions are generated on the championship subdivision, Division
II and Division III levels.
Obama would like to level the playing
field in the current bowl subdivision, bringing to playoff partisans a
whole new meaning of his campaign slogan, "The change we need."
There surely are more urgent issues for
him to deal with but regardless of how you feel about his stances on
other matters, the President-elect may have a positive impact for the
oppressed in the college football bowl subdivision.
True champions coming to town
East Carolina will renew its rivalry
with Appalachian State, the reigning championship subdivision champions,
on Sept. 5 next season at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The programs will meet
for the first time since a 38-21 ECU win in Boone in 1979.
"Although this is a single-game
contract with Appalachian State for the 2009 season only, it is my hope
that this game will be a springboard for a great in-state rivalry in the
future," said ECU athletic director Terry Holland when the matchup was
announced last month. "The Mountaineers have proven their ability to
compete against the very best programs in the area and in the nation."
The Pirate AD moved a home game with
N.C. State from 2009 to 2010, creating a void that ASU will fill.
Holland said ECU will have six homes games in both 2009 and 2010.
Appalachian currently is bidding for a
fourth straight championship subdivision title. Its win at Michigan in
its 2007 season opener grabbed the attention of the nation.
In a way, the 2009 game between ASU and
ECU offers the opportunity to confirm the Pirates' decision to become a
major independent and leave the Southern Conference after winning the
1976 conference title.
The Apps remained in the Southern
Conference and have become the league's dominant program. ECU closed out
the 1970's with four straight wins over the Mountaineers but trails the
series, which began in 1932, by a margin of 19-10.
The immediate challenge
The Pirates face a huge game against
UAB on Saturday night at Legion Field in Birmingham. A win assures ECU
of a berth in the Conference USA championship game on Dec. 6.
The Pirates haven't won a league title
in football since capturing the Southern Conference in 1976. The most
pressing issue facing ECU as it seeks to end a streak of road futility
against the Blazers is resurrecting its offensive point production,
which has fallen like the stock market in recent weeks.
The Pirates are 0-3 against UAB at
"We're approaching it like a one-game
season," said Pirates coach Skip Holtz. "We've got to find a way to win
this one. I'm trying to stay away from the big picture right now because
I think we've got way too much to look at in-house to start looking
As the Pirates survey the internal
scene, there are a myriad of injuries to overcome and an offense to
jumpstart that managed just three points in a 21-3 loss at Southern
Miss. Holtz expects his team to respond with resilience with the
potential reward that would come with a win.
"I don't think anybody is hanging his
head over the loss," Holtz said. "I think everybody is very determined.
We continue to talk about the growth of this program and how we're
trying to build it year in and year out. We're still in a position to
achieve a lot of the goals that we had said we wanted to achieve at the
beginning of the season."
With the calendar approaching the end
of November, the Pirates can still accomplish some of their goals from
August. That has resulted in a sense of determination and urgency for
this week's game.
"There are a lot of people playing who
don't have a chance at a bowl game and don't have anything to say about
their conference," Holtz said. "They're just trying to play the role of
spoiler. There are a few teams that are still trying to fight and play
for something. There are 12 conference champions in the country out of
119 Division I teams. There are not a whole of teams with two games left
that still have something to play for. Right now the attitude of this
team is extremely high."
Hoops off to 3-0 start
topped Campbell 86-65 on
Wednesday night as James Legan scored 24 points and Brock Young added
18, both career highs. The Pirates host George Mason on Saturday at 4:30
"We got a lot of contributions from a
lot of different people, which is what we have to have," said ECU coach
Mack McCarthy after the win over the Camels. "The negative of the night
was that we didn't do the things we needed to do defensively.
"We let them drive it and get to the
rim too much and have too many second shots. We have to clean that up
before we become a better basketball team. Our effort is good, our
intentions are good, but our execution is not where it needs to be."
Campbell outrebounded the Pirates,
Pirate needs a parrot
Bonesville reader Brad Hufford writes
with a proposal that the Pirates' costumed mascots carry a parrot on
their shoulder as some pirates have been portrayed.
"There is a parrot that is purple-ish
in color that would be perfect," he states.
Hufford also has a name for the parrot
That way, Hufford explains, the Pirates
would always have a "Chip" on their shoulder.
Hufford's idea is a different approach
to a concept that has been carried out independently for at least the
last two football seasons. ECU student Kevin Walters of Raleigh assumes
his Pirate persona and roams the stands in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium each
game day with a stuffed parrot perched on his shoulder. Sporting
meticulously applied purple and gold body paint and wearing buccaneer
regalia, Walters races from section to section rallying the purple
Danny Whitford contributed to this article.