Take on Pirate Sports
From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, July 1, 2003
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9
Miami Makes the Leap — Now
I’m certainly no math major but it strikes me odd when a school that
can’t balance its athletic budget in a national championship year can pay a
million dollars to get out of one league and then pay three million dollars
to get into another.
With that said, the Atlantic Coast Conference's package must have been
better then anyone thought. As late as Sunday night, there were reports out
of Miami that the Hurricanes were staying put.
But no, the ACC managed to get the gem from the Big East crown, despite
stepping on a few toes along the way.
It’s all about the money — the football money. The ACC wanted more. Barring a return to sanity by those who govern the allegedly
amateur sport, they will get it.
The question in Pirate Land, what’s next?
As I’ve noted recently on the air and in this column,
Chancellor William Muse indicated that representatives of the Big East and
Conference USA were already talking last week.
The trick for the Big East is to keep its basketball tradition intact
while hanging on to its membership card in the Bowl Championship Series.
Make no mistake about it — when the dust clears you will have BCS schools
and Division I-AA schools. There won’t be any middle ground.
One can sit around all day and think about what if this and what if that.
The ‘Canes and Hokies now reside in the ACC. The Pirates still call a
non-BCS league home. The have-nots have to figure out a way to become a have
and they need to do it in a hurry.
The best bet for East Carolina is in the new Big East. I don’t buy into
the stories that say the Big East will take both Central Florida and South
Florida. I don’t care how many people live in those two schools' television
markets, if they aren’t watching the teams, it doesn’t matter.
Orlando and Tampa football fans follow the Seminoles, the Hurricanes and
the Gators. They also keep up with the Bucs, the Jags and the Dolphins.
The ultimate decisions will be driven by football, not demographics or
potential. The Big East already tried that road with Temple and look what it
There is no way the Knights or the Bulls bring more to the table than the
East Carolina Pirates. ECU has a great history with the Big East and — as
they have proven in long-running series with a number of the league's
schools — Pirate fans will enthusiastically embrace annual battles with the likes of Syracuse, Pitt,
West Virginia and Boston College.
But it has to be with a BCS link!
There’s also an unconfirmed report that Army is looking to leave
Conference USA. Again, it’s about the haves and the have-nots.
ESPN reported Monday night that perhaps the ACC would add a 12th team and
that Louisville might be heading east. That was in the tease. In the story,
it seemed more like the Cards would be heading to the Big East.
Louisville seems to be a lock to make it to a BCS bid, somewhere.
How many teams will the Big East take? Will this be for football only?
Will the ACC go after a 12th team? The league seems pretty smug about
staying at eleven, with hopes of changing the rules to get its own
conference championship game each season.
Now that the state budget has been signed, perhaps Governor Easley can
somehow manage a few minutes to get involved. In principle, I really think
that government officials should stay out of athletics, but the folks in
Virginia sure made it look like a winner.
Internet message boards have been hopping for weeks with expansion talk.
E-mails and calls have poured out in support of East Carolina's merits for
getting a spot in a BCS league.
I say that you need to keep up the pressure. Write anyone and everyone to
get East Carolina’s name out there. There have been way too many national
articles that don’t include East Carolina in a BCS mix for my comfort.
The dominos have started falling. Hang on, it’s going to be a wild ride.
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