ECU News, Notes and Commentary
Friday, June 24, 2005
By Bethany Bradsher
ECU spices up non-conference
Navy, WVU, 4 ACC teams will
show up on future Pirate football slates
CHART: View an organized chart of the Pirates' football schedules over the
next 8 years...
a college football team’s natural geographic rivalries were established
within its conference.
athletic conferences are assembled from a patchwork of states, so today’s
athletic directors have to take a different approach.
of the challenges East Carolina athletic director Terry Holland had before
him when he set out to schedule the Pirates’ non-conference opponents for
the next eight seasons.
result, which Holland announced in a press conference Thursday, is a slate
from 2006-2013 that includes an annual game against Virginia Tech, four
contests against North Carolina and West Virginia, three against North
Carolina State, two against Virginia and a first-time series with Navy.
ultra-challenging line-up gives the Pirates two things: formidable
competition against which to measure themselves and the continuation of
realize that it is a challenge,” Holland said. “But we think that Pirates
respond to a challenge. We’re talking about eight possible bowl teams on our
schedule every year. We’re excited about it, we’re anxious about it, but
that’s what athletics is all about.
opportunity is there for us to provide a formidable challenge for our team
every single year.”
eight Conference USA games a year, and the balance of the schedule over the
next eight seasons left 32 opening dates. Of those non-conference contests,
Holland has already scheduled 25. Nearly half of those match-ups will take
place in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, because Holland did not negotiate with
schools who wouldn’t agree to a home-away series.
just not going to do that,” Holland said of the potential opponents who
wanted to schedule ECU for “guarantee” games that will give a large pay-out
to a school that will come for an away game only. “We had some offers from
some big-name schools. They would call and say, ‘Hey, we’ll give you
$750,000 to come to our place and play, and I’d say, ‘Hey, we’ll give you a
million and a half to come to Greenville to play. Now if they had accepted I
don’t know what I would have done. But I felt like I had to call their
bluff, at least.”
game on the schedule, a 2007 contest against Virginia Tech at the Carolina
Panthers' Bank of America Stadium, will be played on a neutral site. That
arrangement was part of the eight-year deal with the Hokies, in part because
of the exposure it gives both schools in the Charlotte region.
face it, Charlotte is an important media market for everybody,” Holland
said. “There were a lot of good reasons to play in Charlotte. But it was
part of the deal with Virginia Tech. Eight straight years is kind of unusual
with any opponent, particularly with one that has played for the national
championship in recent years.”
anything, the Pirates’ 3-20 record over the past two seasons made it easier
to assemble the long-range plan, Holland said, because opposing athletic
directors don’t see ECU as a significant threat at this point.
were 20-3 we might not have the same opportunities,” he said. “So we’ve got
to strike while the iron’s hot and we’ll figure it out as we go along.”
coordinator Greg Hudson, who came to ECU from the University of Minnesota,
said that he expects the Pirate players to rise to the level of
non-conference competition that, in addition to the ACC teams, includes West
Virginia and Navy.
competitive player will work hard and when he goes out there on that grass,
he’ll play up to the level that we need to be competitive and hopefully win
Mayor Don Parrott, who spoke briefly at the press conference, said that the
projected schedule will be a boon to the area because of the fans from both
teams that will come spend money in Pitt County when rivals like the Tar
Heels and the Cavaliers come to play.
exciting because of the economics that it’s going to bring to our
community,” Parrott said.
Skip Holtz, who was out of town for Thursday’s announcement but answered the
media’s question by teleconference, said that the eight-year schedule was a
reflection of Holland’s ambitious goal for the program and a reason for
total confidence in Terry Holland and the visions and goals he has for this
program,” Holtz said. “I am extremely excited about the opportunity to play
at that level. There’s going to be some growing pains as we go into this,
but it’s a challenge for this program that I’m ready to accept.”
line, Holland said, is that setting lofty goals for the next eight years
will move ECU closer to the goal that is shared by everyone in the Pirate
Nation — a future bid in a BCS bowl.
going to play some BCS-caliber teams so we can measure every year how close
we are or how far away we are,” he said. “We’d like to see that gap closing
every year if we are as far away as some people probably think we are.”
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02/23/2007 01:11:26 AM