Until East Carolina athletic director
Terry Holland sought to move a home game with N.C. State from the 2009
season to 2010, the Pirates' football series with Appalachian State was
like lore about Blackbeard's treasure a matter entrusted to
Holland pursued the schedule adjustment
so that expansion of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium could be completed before the
Wofpack played again in Greenville.
ECU and the Mountaineers were old
rivals with the emphasis being on old. They had met 29 times down
through the ages, dating back to 1932, but the series had been dormant
since ECU's 38-21 win in Boone back in 1979.
None of the current players were alive
when the former Southern Conference rivals last matched up. ECU coach
Skip Holtz was a freshman at Fayetteville (AR) High. There was no such
thing as the Internet you're reading now.
ASU-ECU was a series with a past until
Holland gave it a present last year by adding App State to the 2009
schedule with a one-game contract. That took the Wolfpack off the docket
for 2009 and moved NCSU's next game in Greenville to 2010.
After Saturday's 29-24 Pirates win in
Greenville before 43,279 fans, it now appears that ASU-ECU might have a
"It turned out to be a great, great
game, a great day for football," said Holland, who was on the verge of
his first trip to the Final Four in 1980 as basketball coach at Virginia
the last time ECU played Appalachian. "I actually think the way it
turned out is probably the best thing that could have happened to our
particular team at this particular circumstance."
The Pirates were up 24-0 in the second
quarter but ASU reserve quarterback Travaris Cadet led a comeback that
kept the capacity crowd on the edge of their seats until the last
"You don't like to blow a lead like
that but Appalachian State never gave up," Holland said. "They came back
at us and that's what great rivalries are all about."
Holland likened the manner in which the
game unfolded to last year's Alabama-Georgia game in which the then-No.
8 Crimson Tide managed a 41-30 win in Athens after jumping out to a big
lead over the then-No. 3 Bulldogs.
"Alabama was winning 31-0 at the half,
and they're lucky to hang on and win, so that's just part of (a great
rivalry)," Holland said. "We hope the rivalry (with ASU) will continue."
More games for the Pirates with the
Southern Conference juggernaut at the other end of the state probably
won't happen right away.
"There's nothing for the next couple of
years because we're full and I think they are as well in terms of the
games they can play against teams from our (football bowl) division,"
Holland said. "We'll keep looking at it though. It's a series that I
would like to see continue and I know that most of our fans would like
Holland wasn't absolutely certain about
the financial guarantee due ASU following Saturday's game but said he
thought it was $300,000. The Pirates obviously can generate more revenue
from gate receipts because pending expansion will make the stadium in
Greenville more than twice the size of recently-renovated Kidd Brewer
Stadium in Boone, which seats 21,650.
Holland didn't sound as enthusiastic
about scheduling games in Boone as he was in terms of just continuing
"All of those things would have to work
themselves out in the future," he said. "We would prefer to play them in
Charlotte if we went anywhere other than here."
Playing the Pirates wasn't exactly a
new experience for Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore, who is in his
21st season as head coach of the Mountaineers. Moore was head coach at
North Texas in 1979 when the Pirates defeated the Mean Green 49-16 in
Greenville. That was Nov. 17, 1979, two weeks after ECU and ASU last
tangled in Boone.
Moore's second loss to ECU on Saturday
didn't leave him looking for scheduling alternatives although
Appalachian is scheduled to play at Florida next season and at Virginia
Tech in 2011.
The Mountaineers don't mind hitting the
road to take on some of the most established programs in college
football. They stunned Michigan 34-32 before 109,000 in Ann Arbor in
2007 and absorbed a 41-13 loss to open the 2008 season at LSU.
"It's a natural," Moore said of games
with the Pirates. "We haven't played since I've been here so this is the
first time in 21 years. It was a long time even before that. But it's a
natural rivalry. They both played in the Southern Conference against
"There are so many fans that go back to
that era. They always wanted us to continue to play but for one reason
or another, the administration at both schools never worked hard at
making it happen. Now that Terry and Charlie (Cobb, ASU AD) have done
that, it appears to me that it could be a great series.
"They've even talked about playing it
in Charlotte. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I would
hope that it would get to the point that we could play at least one of
the games in Boone. It can be a great series. It can't do anything but
get better, I think."
Holtz was favorable in his comments
about playing Appalachian State before his focus shifted to getting
ready to face another set of Mountaineers this week at West Virginia.
Showcase games which capture the
emotion of the fan bases tend to enhance recruiting and when they have
the potential to produce program-sustaining revenue, they become all the
more enticing to those who do the scheduling.
More from Moore
The Appalachian State coach was asked
to compare Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium to venues at Michigan and LSU where his
program has opened its last two seasons.
"That's not really a fair question,"
Moore said. "Michigan has got 109,000 seats and LSU has got 90
(thousand). It's a really good atmosphere here. We have a good
atmosphere at our place. You'd be shocked if you came to our place to
"It's a great atmosphere here (in
Greenville). There's no question about that. You've got great fan
support and great student support. When you start comparing it to LSU
and Michigan, that's another thing.
"There's not anything wrong with that.
There's a niche for us. There's a niche for East Carolina, just like
there's a niche for the LSU's and Ohio States and Michigans. We're
talking about apples and oranges a little bit."