East Carolina has accepted an invitation to play Coastal Carolina in the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl at Protective Stadium on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 6:45 p.m.
The game will be shown on ESPN.
ECU went 7-5 overall and 4-4 in the American Athletic Conference in earning a bowl berth for the second straight season. Last year’s Military Bowl matchup was canceled because of COVID issues with Boston College.
The last time the Pirates played in the postseason was the Birmingham Bowl following the 2014 season when Florida topped ECU, 28-20. The Pirates were on the short end of a 24-7 score against South Florida in the Papajohns.com Bowl in 2006. Both of those games were at Legion Field.
Protective Stadium is a new facility that seats 45,000. The $200 million structure has replaced Legion Field as the football home of the Alabama Birmingham Blazers.
Coastal Carolina is in a coaching transition with the departure of Jamey Chadwell to Liberty. Tim Beck, offensive coordinator at N.C. State, has been named to direct the program. Defensive coordinator Chad Staggs is serving as interim coach.
The Chanticleers are 9-3 overall. After going 6-2 in the Sun Belt Conference, Coastal lost the league championship game at Troy, 45-26, on Saturday.
ECU features quarterback Holton Ahlers and running back Keaton Mitchell on offense. Ahlers has passed for 3,408 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2022. Mitchell has run for 1,325 yards with 13 scores.
Athletic director Jon Gilbert expressed his reaction to the bowl berth in a media relations release.
“We are honored to accept an invitation to the Birmingham Bowl and play in the postseason for the second consecutive year under head coach Mike Houston,” Gilbert said. “I am excited for our student-athletes, coaches and staff to represent East Carolina University, our community and all of eastern North Carolina.
“In conjunction with (executive director) Mark Meadows and the Birmingham Bowl, I know our young men will have a first-class bowl experience. We have a dedicated group, including a special group of seniors, that have worked to rebuild our football program. We are looking forward to Pirate Nation joining us in Birmingham.”
After a 49-46 win at Temple to end the regular season, Houston gave the Pirates a week off. Bowl preparations will begin this week.
“This is an exciting opportunity for the young men in our program who have shown an exemplary commitment and dedication to moving our football program forward in a positive direction,” Houston said. “Back-to-back bowl games is another step in our journey to restoring the prominence of Pirate football. I know our young men will be prepared, focused and enthusiastic to represent the Purple and Gold in Birmingham.”