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TV dictates time change for ECU football opener

From staff and ECU reports

Conference USA's newest television partner has decided to acquaint itself without delay with the late-summer mid-day sun of the league's eastern outpost.

ECU's Sept. 3 opener versus Duke in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium has been advanced to 1:00 p.m. from its originally announced 7:00 p.m. kickoff to accommodate a national telecast by The College Sports Television Network.

As a result, the steady diet of night games East Carolina fans had expected for the first half of the 2005 season will not commence until the Pirates' second game, a Sept. 17 outing at Wake Forest that will kick off at 6:30 p.m.

With the change in time for the Duke game, ECU's first home night contest will be Southern Mississippi's visit on Oct. 1, which is slated for a 6:00 p.m. kickoff.

The news of the change came in a Wednesday release from the ECU athletic department. Prior to the announcement, the Pirates' published schedule did not include an afternoon date until a 3:00 p.m. game on Oct. 15 game at Southern Methodist.

CSTV's selection of the Pirates-Blue Devils matchup is not surprising, considering ECU's track record as a ratings draw, the likelihood of a large, appealing-to-TV crowd and the compelling storylines of the game. Not only will the tilt pit the in-state rivals against one another for the first time in three years, it will mark the debut of Skip Holtz as head coach of the Pirates.

The Blue Devils and Pirates have met nine times on the gridiron, with Duke holding a 5-4 series advantage. The teams last met on August 31, 2002 in Durham, with the Blue Devils posting a 23-16 victory.

C-USA announced a modified six-year pact with ESPN and the new contract with CSTV in January. The conference is expected to earn almost $68,000,000 from the two networks over the duration of the contracts, essentially maintaining its TV revenue stream at a level comparable to what it was contracted to receive under its previous exclusive agreement with ESPN.

In anticipation of the impending departures of several of the league's marquee basketball teams to other conferences, the new ESPN deal was structured to significantly reduce the number of games carried by the network in that sport while adding a provision to televise the C-USA football championship game beginning with next season's inaugural title game.

In addition to the C-USA football title game, ESPN has first pick of 10 regular-season games each year to televise on ESPN or ESPN2. It will also have first selection of six men's basketball and three women's basketball games each season to show on ESPN and ESPN2, plus the conference championships.

C-USA's new contract with CSTV contemplates having dozens of games involving the three sports carried on that network each season.

CSTV executives have said the network, established last year, can be seen in more than 60 million households and that it expects to eventually have distribution agreements in all C-USA markets.

USA Today reported in January that the combined revenue C-USA will receive from ESPN and CSTV will be $11,300,000 per year, the same amount the league received under its prior contract with ESPN.


Date    Notes  Opponent           Time@    TV  
Sep 03   #1    DUKE              1:00 PM  CSTV
Sep 10         Open Date
Sep 17         at Wake Forest    6:30 PM
Sep 24         at West Virginia    TBA
Oct 01   #2    SOUTHERN MISS*    6:00 PM
Oct 08   #3    RICE*             6:00 PM
Oct 15         at  SMU*          3:00 PM
Oct 22         at  Memphis*      2:00 PM
Oct 29   #4    CENTRAL FLORIDA*  2:00 PM
Nov 05         Open Date
Nov 12         at  Tulsa*        3:00 PM
Nov 19         at  Marshall*       TBA
Nov 26   #5    UAB*             12:00 PM


#1 = Pirate Club Weekend
#2 = Military Appreciation Day, Band Day
#3 = Family, Hall of Fame/Letterwinners Weekend
#4 = Homecoming
#5 = Academic Success Day

@ = Game times are subject to change to meet possible television scheduling needs.

Home games in ALL CAPS; asterisk (*) denotes Conference USA game; TBA denotes game for which kickoff time will be announced at a later date.

Compiled from staff reports and an ECU Athletics release.

Page updated: 02/23/07 11:31 AM

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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