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From the Anchor Desk
Friday, June 27, 2003
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

ECU chancellor keen on conference developments


Survival in question for hybrid conferences
Miami Makes the Leap — Now What?
Hurricanes rage over nervous landscape
ACC, Big East on edge about Miami
Leagues caught in eye of the Hurricanes
Media rises to task in ACC-Big East feud

VPI in; Miami ponders; ECU sees opening
ECU chancellor keen on developments
Miami calls timeout to huddle with Big East
BE plans "up front" and "proper" expansion
ACC door cracked open for ECU...?
Mountain West preparing to pounce
Chalk one up for the non-BCS schools
Big East-ACC peace plan in the works?
ECU poised to ride out ACC-Big East storm
ACC deliberations at crossroads
Big Top needed for this circus
Where are you, Governor Easley..?

On Wednesday, the Atlantic Coast Conference officially invited Virginia Tech and Miami to join their league.

Late Wednesday, Virginia Tech looked like they were ready to commit, voting to give their school president the right to negotiate a deal.

On Thursday, the University of Miami was expected to accept its ACC bid.

But hold on! Miami wasn’t expecting an 11-team Atlantic Coast Conference — especially one that included neither Syracuse nor Boston College.

The Hurricanes now say they’ll make their final decision on Monday.

That tells me there is still some back room dealing going on. There are a thousand or more scenarios, but it looks like the Big East harbors hopes of keeping its league together.

The Big East could be putting together its own 12-team league and could be looking for members. Several sources have confirmed that the Big East and Conference USA have talked on several occasions about the possibilities that are out there.

I had a long chat with East Carolina University Chancellor William Muse on Wednesday night and came away very impressed with his attitude on the matter of expansion. He was very calm, almost confident in talking about East Carolina’s chances to be included in a Bowl Championship Series league.

Muse certainly didn’t promise anything, but you get the feeling that he knows enough about the ins and outs to put ECU where it needs to be when the falling of the dominos accelerates.

“We are going to see what the Big East does and what Conference USA does,” said Muse. “All indications are that the Big East is going to be very patient with the directions they take. Our goal is and will always be to become a member of an all sports conference where our football team can compete for a national championship. The current scenario presents some opportunities that we have not had before, but it is a very uncertain time in college athletics.”

Uncertain is an understatement. One day Virginia Tech is looking at life without the BCS. The next day, the Hokies are ACC-bound.

Patience may be the key. Or the time to be aggressive may be now. Who really knows?

I would wager if the ACC could do it all over again, Commissioner John Swofford and company would go at this expansion in an entirely different way.

I’m really not sure how it unraveled so badly so quickly. But it did.

The ACC’s moves will probably lead to opportunities for several schools seeking BCS affiliation. Louisville appears to be the top candidate to either head to the Big East or go to the ACC as a 12th team.

Many want the North Carolina legislature to push for ECU as the ACC’s 12th team. It's hard to predict if the Big Four would block that move because of their feelings for East Carolina or the non-North Carolina schools in the ACC would block the move so that the league wouldn’t include five teams from the Tar Heel State.

The Pirates are a natural fit for either the Big East or the ACC.

East Carolina has played a semi-Big East schedule through the years, and had pretty good success. Games with Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Miami and Syracuse have proven to be very popular for both parties.

The Pirates also have a very respectable track record over the last decade-plus — both on the scoreboard and in 'fans in the seats' category — against their neighboring ACC rivals.

When it comes to the Big East, the evolving formulas are still so very complicated. South Florida and Central Florida bring the Sunshine State’s television market to the table. Louisville has the highest athletic budget of any non-BCS school in the country.

We all know the Pirates don't get the national respect they deserve. The ECU program would be a big plus for the Big East. If the conference retains its BCS slot, membership for ECU would provide the chance to follow the remarkable path of progress blazed by Virginia Tech after it joined the league.

It's an open question at the moment what course of expansion the Big East will adopt. Will it add one or, perhaps, two teams to merely stabilize itself in the wake of the Hokies' departure? Or will the league scoop up the Pirates and others to go to 12 for a football playoff?

In either case, ECU is squarely in the mix of contenders likely to be given consideration by Big East decision-makers.

What seemed so far away just months ago seems so close now. Or is it? With every day comes a new twist and a different scenario.

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02/23/2007 01:26:15 AM

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