Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather

Insights and Observations


Henry's Highlights
Thursday, October 23, 2003

By Henry Hinton
Broadcaster & Owner of Greenville Cable 7

Time running out to make Big East case


When news came several months ago that the Big East was going to lose a couple of members, I gave some key East Carolina officials my thoughts that our program needed a Madison Avenue style public relations effort to put in front of Mike Tranghese and the presidents of those schools. Unfortunately, those people are now gone.

Maybe it happened. Maybe it didn’t. I really don’t know.

Our former chancellor was being forward-thinking when he hired the former commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, Roy Kramer, to consult with ECU and get involved in the negotiating. Good move, I think. Kramer was the first president of the Bowl Championship Series and certainly knows where the bodies are buried with regard to the heartbeat of college football.

To date, however, there is little to show.

Call me an old-timer (you’d be mostly right) but I am still absolutely stunned that South Florida has somehow leap-frogged ECU into a probable invitation.

Of course it is all about money and television markets and, as everyone is aware, the Big East is losing its Florida presence when Miami moves to the Atlantic Coast Conference next year.

In talking to knowledgeable media contacts in the northeast there is still a sense that ECU brings less to the table that the programs being tossed around to receive an invitation when the Big East presidents meet on November 4th.

One major newspaper writer said to me recently, “I’ve been to games at ECU. I understand ECU but I can tell you that no one up here does.” He went on to praise Pirate fans as some of the best in the nation. He even said he had been to few places where the electricity matched what he has viewed in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

On the other hand, he then goes on to explain, the belief in the northeast is that ECU just does not add enough to the national exposure of the conference.

Being in the advertising business my entire professional life, I see his point. Painful as it may be, the truth is that a national advertising agency looking to purchase an ad schedule for a national client will often look to just the top 100 markets. The Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville market is just outside that range. While there are 450,000 people in eastern North Carolina, it just doesn’t come close to a Cincinnati, Louisville or certainly a Tampa television market.

Those national ad dollars drive the television networks' decisions when they are negotiating with different leagues. ESPN, CBS and ABC want to be able to tell those national ad agencies that they will be investing dollars into the top markets when they purchase advertising on the games. That is the only way they can justify the exorbitant dollars being paid to leagues today.

Can it be overcome?

The simple answer is yes. It will not be easy but it is not impossible. The only way to overcome it is with getting the right people in front of the right people with the right message.

Case in point. This television market was no different when former ECU Director of Athletics Dave Hart signed an unprecedented five year deal with ESPN in the mid-90’s.

Those of us who witnessed this incredible feat know the truth. Hart developed and nurtured a relationship with the right people. I remember golf outings and visits to the “pig-out” where the ESPN brass were treated like royalty. Suddenly, they were not worried about the market. They wanted to televise the excitement they saw when they visited here.

South Florida has stepped in front of the Pirate program with a stronger television market. ECU must counteract it prior to November 4th with the strongest relationship-building effort it can muster.

Governor Mike Easley weighed in (better late than never, I guess) with a Wednesday letter to the commissioner and presidents.

The timing of our university’s unfortunate leadership snafu could be costly. Let’s hope everything is being done to offset that ill-timed vacuum and make this happen.

Send an e-mail message to Henry Hinton.

Click here to dig into Henry Hinton's archives.

02/23/2007 10:12:16 AM


©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.