Insights and Observations
Friday, April 29, 2005
By Henry Hinton
12th game implications could
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The NCAA Board of
Directors approved a measure on Thursday allowing Division 1 football
programs to play 12 games each year beginning in 2006. The implications for
East Carolina’s future are large.
The NCAA Management
Council approved the measure on April 12th and it was ratified by the entire
board of directors in Indianapolis yesterday.
Previously a twelfth game
was allowed only in those years when 14 Saturdays fell between the
permissible dates. The next scheduled year was to have been 2008. Now
schools have the option to play the additional game starting with the 2006
Athletic directors are,
no doubt, dialing all over the country to try to get the best game possible.
The initiative will be a windfall for some programs and a financial savior
It could be just what the
doctor ordered for ECU. Given Terry Holland’s apparent philosophy that the
Pirate program must convince in-state schools and schools in contiguous
states to regularly play home and home with East Carolina, this new rule
essentially eliminates the most used excuse: "We can’t fit you in our
The truth is that Holland
has been greasing the skids already in preparation for this. With the
western expansion of Conference USA, it seems there will be fewer and fewer
games that could be considered natural rivalry games for the Pirates.
Holland recognizes that
the emotion and passion involved in an ECU-N.C. State game or a Pirate-Tar
Heel bout — particularly once the program becomes competitive again — will
dwarf any interest in games with teams from Texas.
Raleigh, Chapel Hill and at the other I-A schools in the Carolinas and
Virginia has in mind should also get excited about the pay day a game with
ECU could bring.
Holland wants to play at
least one of those games every year. And why not? With a 12th game allowed,
it just makes sense.
No doubt there will be
coaches and others inside the various schools who would rather add Furman,
East Tennessee State or Navy. But fans will win, universities will win and
the Pirate program will certainly win if this 12th game becomes a new reason
for ECU to be added to the schedules of N.C. State, UNC-CH, South Carolina,
Clemson, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
There is also speculation
that the addition of a 12th game could bring new discussions about expansion
of the Big East, a conference now with just eight football schools. Adding a
game will bring scheduling opportunities and challenges for those schools.
The new Big East football
conference is comprised of Cincinnati, UConn, Louisville,
Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse , South Florida and West Virginia.
The status of the Big
East in the Bowl Championship series has become tenuous since the exodus of
Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech. There's no question the Big East
has lost some glitter as a major football conference, in terms of
In fact, adding
Louisville, which finished the year ranked 10th in the final BCS standings
in 2004, may have actually saved the Big East's BCS tie-in — for the moment.
Under the current
contract, the champions from the BCS conferences with automatic berths are
required to average a top-12 finish in the final BCS standings over a
revolving four-year period or face a review.
Without Louisville the
Big East might well have trouble meeting that standard. For now, the league
Then again, there is that
Would adding ECU help or
hurt in that regard? There is no question that the Pirates’ recent football
woes have come at a very bad time. In fact, timing could not be worse.
Looking ahead, however,
there is a renewed sense that ECU could be back on track in the near future.
At the very least an argument can be made that the commitment is there.
Bringing in national
names like Terry Holland and Skip Holtz have raised some eyebrows around the
country. This should be helpful if, indeed, the Big East makes a move
Having South Florida move
ahead of ECU in this sweepstakes the first time around is still a bitter
pill for many Pirate faithful. Perhaps there is another opportunity around
the bend. And it could be rushed along a bit by this 12-game schedule.
First and foremost,
however, Holland will be on the phone to schools in and around the state to
try and get those home and home games.
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