Monthly Archives: May 2012

Will the BCS Moves Bolster or Bust our Pirates?

Mike in Durham (or as I will refer to him – MiD) provided a very thought-provoking commentary to my last post on the BCS changes that appear to be coming to fruition. I like the way he thinks.

So, I am posting them as a separate here to hopefully generate more discussion on this topic. I’ve added some of my thoughts (which I know are more on the negative side) below each point.

Please all, provide your thoughts, too, so we can get a good feel for the Pirate Nation feels about how changes may impact ECU’s future.

Thanks MiD for sharing and taking the time to give such good analysis. Though my comments are on the half-full side, I am still as excited as ever for ECU football and have high expectations for this year’s team.

From MiD:

I am bit more optimistic than some, I wont to point out a few things that will help us as far as TV$$ & our on field product (sorry a bit long):

1. Regarding changes to BCS playoff, all 11 conferences (including the 5 non-AQs) are involved in the decision making on this. The new playoff revenue estimate is at least $350M, close to twice the current BCS $$. To gain potential access to BCS games, the non-AQs had to accept a miniscule % payout before (approx 9%,to be split among all the non-AQs, with the AQs getting 91%). The Non-AQs (5 votes out of 11) are now working strongly together to ensure a much more equitable distribution, yes the Lions share will go to the big boys & they will get a much bigger %. Let’s say the non-AQs end up with 20% total, which is low (only 4% per league). With double the pie & double the %, the payout will go up 400% (from about $600k per school to well over $2M per school). Yes, the gap will grow as the larger schools will easily get 4-5 times that amount, but the non-AQs (like ECU) will end up with significantly more $$ in our athletic budget (see pt #2 below also).

RC: This is a big point that seems to be the two sides of the blade. On the one hand, anything that bolsters our Athletics budget is good by me and given our ability to squeeze more out of every dollar, all sports will benefit from this. HOWEVER, the latter point is what worries me…the GAP. We all know that whether we like it or not, it is an arms race in college football. The BCS founders know this and look how much distance has been put between us and the self-annointed elites. If that GAP grows, relatively, we may never be able to compete once the system is corrected (if ever). That worries me about this new deal.

2. The same net effect will happen when the allied MtnWest & CUSA get open market bidding on a new TV contract in 2-3 yrs, with the markets we’ll both have teams in, & competitive bidding (demand for games on NBC Sports, Fox, Comcast & other cable providers), all result in vastly increased Conference TV$$. The BE will end up getting ~$5M per school when their new TV deal is negotiated. Ours will improve from the current $1+M/yr, to close to $3M/yr. The net result is we’ll have easily $2-3M to add to our budget to help us survive & thrive.

RC: This, to me, is a bigger point and benefit to ECU, the added TV revenues are huge for us. But with a league that has so many mouths to feed, I wonder if we end up losing air time for ECU vs current TV deal and our own one-off deals. I admit that I do not necessarily have a handle on how TV deals are handled in regards to which schools get the air time. The MWC is considered a higher-tier league than C-USA and so I am going to assume that we will have less impact in programming decisions and less opportunities to show our brand within the large footprint of the alliance. That said, the extra money is helpful, but again, will pale in comparison – relatively – to even the crumbling, totally unappealing new Big East. The distance between those mediocre schools and ECU will only become more pronounced in two years time, IMO.

3. We’ve all seen the outstanding recruiting/rebuilding that Ruff & Co have done. Our talent level this yr will be vastly improved over 2010 or 2011. With more talent, experience (both players & coaches), and a somewhat easier schedule now, our team is primed to make a major step up in on-field results.

RC: MiD, this is one of the keys IMO. I totally agree about the seasons to come versus 2010-11…the coaches have laid the foundation. I also agree that relative to the past, we are primed to move up a level in consistency in numbers of wins on an annual basis. Where I worry about this is, we need to be able to do what Boise did which was to be so primed year-in and year-out for the “name games” while at the same time being so far superior to the league competition that it would be a near shocker for a team in the league to beat them. I don’s see that for us even with the notable talent upgrades that Ruff has brought in. USM has owned us in this league and Louisiana Tech is not going to be an easy win going forward. Can we get to where we ace this league EVERY YEAR, win the championship, and go 3-1 OOC every year? That is the challenge. We need to either water down the OOC (which I wouldn’t want to do) or we need to accept the fact that we will always be a team of potential, IMO. That might change (e.g., we get on top of USM this season and keep them down), but I think the new CUSA has the same problem the current one has – external perception is that the teams in the league are cupcakes so why can’t ECU and USM ace the league each year since they are the teams that belong in the AQ? We know better in terms of competition, but that is the perception and we would need to be able to regularly win 10 games to make this work towards the end we all desire. Not sure we can do that even with the talent upgrades.

4. Now let’s consider the health of the Big East, the line to get out includes, UC, UL, UConn, & Rutgers. Should that cookie crumble, we’ll be saying hello to some old friends (Memphis, USF, UCF, etc.). Also, there’s likely to be further conference shuffling / expansion….IMO, we’ll be a top candidate primed & ready to take a large step in the right direction.

RC: I think you are way ahead on this MiD (do you read tea leaves?) and as I write this, your points are coming more and more real. With Marinatto abruptly resigning and hoops schools in the Big East starting to rumble, the Big East may, indeed, crumble quickly. I may be in the minority, but I would gladly have those teams back in a revamped CUSA or better yet, a new East Coast league and still keep an alliance with the MWC and have a title game between the East and West. However, I also believe that while the BCS decision makers would like it for the Big East to crumble too (less mouths to feed), I believe they see the value in ensuring that this is a managed effort so I do not see us benefiting one way or another…sure more teams join the have nots. I prefer for us to join the haves or have a fair landscape to compete. I think you are right on with this point, but I think that the most likely net result will be a conference where we are put together with all of the eastern located best of the rest (e.g., UCF, Marshall, USM, USF, Cincinnati, Memphis, Navy, a few others…). Maybe that TV deal could propel us to a more competitive financial situation.


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