NEWS, NOTES &
The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, August 17,
By Bethany Bradsher
Pirates' chief salesman makes
(ECU SID image)
All rights reserved.
I have a 6-year-old who
gets seriously injured approximately every seven minutes. He screams and
cries because he bumped his knee/toe or scratched his elbow/ear while he was
running around/wrestling with his big brother. Each time, I, as the dutiful
mother, calmly tell him that I’m sorry his world is ending. Then I send him
back to play.
When it comes to my
little boy, I have compassion fatigue, because these grave injuries occur so
often and almost never yield so much as a bruise. With that in mind, I have
to confess that as conference realignment talk has come screaming into the
college sports landscape this week, I have been tempted to react in much the
Isn’t there always some
prospect of East Carolina getting a chance to breathe the rarified air of
the BCS? Aren’t the puzzle pieces always on the verge of being rearranged to
give the Pirates a more prominent place to compete? Yet time and again,
either nothing happens or ECU is overlooked. It’s enough to give fans a
chronic case of realignment fatigue.
But, dare I speak it?
This trip through the wilderness of major conference identity crises could
be different. And if any development confirmed my hunch that the Pirates’
door out of Conference USA could be cracking open, it was Director of
Athletics Terry Holland’s bold marketing salvo that was unveiled Tuesday
It’s called “Undaunted,”
and it is a slick website dedicated to promoting East Carolina athletics and
the university at large. It opens with a video narrated by Holland, and tabs
are dedicated to topics like, “Our TV Audience” and “Our Fan Support.” The
underlying purpose of the site is clear — to champion ECU’s cause to anyone
in a position to include the Pirates in major realignment conversations. To
that end, Holland wrote
an open letter on
www.ecupirates.com encouraging the Pirate
Nation to circulate “Undaunted” as far and wide as they can.
are asking each of you to help send a consistent message that East Carolina
University is a growing and powerful force for positive change, not just in
eastern North Carolina, but across North Carolina and throughout the
mid-Atlantic region,” Holland’s letter read. “The highly-populated area
between Washington DC and Atlanta is fertile ground for college athletics
because of minimal professional competition (one team each - NFL, NBA and
Just hours after the website went live, ardent Pirates who
frequent message boards had linked to the website on Twitter and Facebook
and sent links to anyone they could think of who writes, blogs or talks
about sports. That type of response was, no doubt, Holland’s intention in
giving fans a peek of the website, because the most passionate supporters of
the “Undaunted” idea will be the ones who spread it the furthest.
As Texas A&M trustees and Texas legislators weigh in on the
Aggies’ projected move from the Big 12 to the SEC, the Pirate faithful
finally have a chance to do more than just wait for the dominoes to start
toppling. They might not have the ear of any major conference officials, but
at least they can sit at their keyboard and do what they can to put a
compelling argument before as many people as possible in hopes that it will
reach and sway the decision makers. Even before the site was launched, a
Wall Street Journal blogger mentioned ECU as a possible future SEC member,
and Pirates hope that such mentions multiply in the days ahead.
Pirate fans have seen Holland’s firm leadership time and
again in his seven years at the ECU helm, but on Tuesday the nation got a
glimpse. As he speaks of ECU’s game-day atmosphere (“You have to experience
it to understand it”) and the Pirate’s burgeoning television market,
visitors to “Undaunted” are convinced that this giant of college athletics
believes in East Carolina and its place in the future.
Sure, this fall could be another false alarm, another
instance of the college realignment boys crying wolf and igniting hysteria
in fan bases across the nation. But Terry Holland and other top Pirate brass
are doing their utmost to ensure that this wave of conference conversation
helps elevate ECU’s profile anywhere college athletics are played.
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08/17/2011 03:26 AM