INSIDE SLANTS ON THE PROGRAM
The Pirate Experience
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
By Kevin Monroe
for the Pirate ISP Sports
Network, Kevin Monroe was a standout
for East Carolina from 1995-99.
No easy path to
All Rights Reserved.
Ask any Pirate fan what is most bothersome
about fans of other major schools in the area, and the response will be
their lack of respect for East Carolina’s football program.
They respect the fact that East Carolina has a
good program, just not the same quality as theirs.
That is, after all, what it means to be a
Pirate. It means always being the underdog and always having partisans of
other schools view you as less than their equal.
How many of you know that Texas Christian of
the Mountain West Conference has had six 10-win seasons over the last
decade? If you knew that bit of trivia, you are in the minority. That is the
life of a non-BCS program.
Boise State of the Western Athletic Conference
has been the most prominent non-BCS team in the country over the last five
years, losing less than five games total over that span.
There are only two ways to earn the respect
that is yearned. Either continuously schedule and beat BCS teams every year,
which is extremely tough, or leave the situation you are in and gain a spot
in a BCS conference.
Both of these scenarios are extremely
difficult to turn into reality. In order to schedule and beat BCS programs, you
have to be willing to go on the road to play them, and realize they are
probably going to be bigger, stronger, and faster.
The more elite non-BCS programs like the
Pirates, Boise State, Utah and Brigham Young can compete with these teams
with their starters, but as you go to the bench, the bigger programs tend to
have more depth.
Regarding the second option, if it were that
easy, all the non-BCS schools would be doing it. For those programs that
have the managed the feat, however, it has meant a world of positive
difference jumping from the
independent or mid-major conference ranks into a BCS conference.
Teams like Virginia Tech, South Florida, and
Cincinnati have made that move and it has paid off in a big way.
The Hokies played for a national championship
in 1999 just a few years after joining the Big East. South Florida has
cracked the Top 10 a couple of times since joining the Big East from
More recently, Cincinnati just completed an
undefeated regular season after moving up a few years ago from C-USA.
Its not the BCS conference itself that makes
the difference. There are several programs in BCS conferences that
have struggled regularly, like Mississippi State or Vanderbilt.
The difference maker is the access to BCS
money — which funds scholarships and lavish facilities — and the
high-profile national television exposure that enhances recruiting.
East Carolina used to play toe-to-toe with all
three of those schools, but their moves into the BCS has boosted their
programs to a new level.
I am sure athletics director Terry Holland has
several conference move scenarios that he is working on, but the culmination
of those efforts may not take place for a few years.
In the meantime, the Pirates can take
advantage of the first key to respect noted above by scheduling BCS teams
and beating them.
Last year, the Pirates vaulted onto the
national scene with huge wins
over West Virginia and
Virginia Tech, but then a
loss to North Carolina State
derailed their momentum. Finishing the season with a heartbreaking
loss in the Liberty Bowl to Kentucky,
a middle of the pack SEC team, really hurt.
East Carolina hasn't beaten a BCS conference
team this season, losing in three tries to
Virginia Tech, and
The Pirates will get another opportunity on
the day after New Year's against the Arkansas Razorbacks of the SEC.
If East Carolina can find a way to win, it
will be a statement game for the program.
A loss is just another reason not to give the
Pirates any respect. After all, what does it mean to win nine games if you
can’t beat an average SEC team? in the SEC.
Kevin Monroe Archives
12/23/2009 05:49:04 AM