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What’s in a Name? For the Pirates, the Conference Matters Less than Affiliation

Sorry friends…my absence on here belies the amount of attention I have been giving to the Pirates on and off the field. Thought I would ramble on a few moments on a this Big East stuff.

You probably recall that I have been an anti-Big East guy since they publicly humiliated us in the second expansion and then continue to discount us until they were teetering on the abyss and then took us for survival. Now, it appears that we will be all sports for whatever this conference ends up being. My disdain for the Big East, it’s reactive nature, its history of ineptitude, its foolish arrogance, and a host of other items really has not changed. That said, Coach Holland maneuvered us to a much better position than we were in and that is true even if the former Big East is radically changing its appearance. God…going to miss Holland when he finally does sever the chord. Fodder for another post there.

So, what I can say is that regardless of how this shakes out, the group of cast-offs we are currently affiliated with is much better than the group we were with/about to be with. No disrespect to Southern Miss and Marshall – both teams I hope find a way into our conference grouping – but we are at least cobbled with teams that – should we all stick together – will allow us better growth (of our programs and brand) than we have ever had. For sure, we are part of a collection of teams who do not get enough respect to be included, but do garner enough respect to be seen as possible infiltrators or busters any given year. Much better than the cluster right below which is relegated to what was once IAA in the eyes of the new collection of “haves.”

As I see it, if this group sticks together under any banner – the Big East name or something new – it is an instant win for our hoops program (thank God, Coach Lebo has them winning right now). To be grouped with Cincy, UConn, Memphis, Temple, Central Florida and South Florida is not a bad collection from a basketball power perspective both from a legitimate brand perspective, but also from a market value – that is, we get to play some of these teams in respected venues on national TV, that is a boon. Conversely, our football program adds an attractive SEC-like member in regards to fanbase, game-day, and yes, despite the Big East history of bashing us, a TV draw. There was a reason ESPN – despite their bashing these days – once signed an exclusive deal with ECU not that long ago.

Now, as for the C7 schools – the non-football members – breaking away. I actually think it is long overdue and had it happened back when it SHOULD HAVE, the Big East probably would not have been poached in the first place. To me, the only concern here is over contracts related to the Big East brand. If the NCAA hoops slotting can be negotiated to allow both leagues to have an automatic (which seems likely) and if venue agreements (read MSG) can be negotiated for both leagues, and if the finances around the brand name can be negotiated equitably, I am ready to say bye to those schools post-haste (save a small hope for Villanova deciding to go all in and go to big-time football).

Moreover, I would love to see the Big East name go with the C7 schools and a new, appropriate name be devised that reflects the mission and geographic footprint of the new league.

Hmmmm….an what of the new league? I hate to say it, but right now, our members need to pull for the MWC to fail. We need to be seen as the league pushing its way up through brand and success on the field. To do so, we need distance between the new league and the MWC. And the key, really is our good friends in Boise, Idaho. IMO, they hold the key, right or wrong. If they start to lean to move back to MWC, we are going to have a struggle on our hands. If they stay firm, the new league can focus attention on reinforcing the West half of the league to ensure that the MWC stays a CUSA equivalent and the new league the barely BCS league.

So what would the league look like if I could have my way. Well here goes:

EAST:                                                           WEST:

1. East Carolina                                         1. Boise State

2. Cincinnati                                               2. Houston

3. Memphis                                                 3. SMU

4. Connecticut                                          4. San Diego State

5. Central Florida                                     5. Brigham Young (unlikely, but would love it)

6. South Florida                                        6. Air Force Academy (also unlikely)

7. Navy                                                         7. Colorado State

8. Temple                                                    8. Nevada OR Fresno State

OK, probably not going to happen unless the league can negotiate a better TV deal, but with BYU, Navy, and Air Force all aboard, the TV numbers WOULD go up – though how much would be the difference-maker. BYU is not driven by money and has a nice deal on it own already, but with a healthy mix of Western teams and a limit to league games allowing BYU four OOCs a year might entice them. But the thinking has to be logical and football focused.

As I said earlier, would love to have Marshall and USM in the league (in that order) and if Navy balks, I would hope that Marshall would get grabbed right away. If two are needed, then of course, would love to have the Southern Miss program on board.

More than anything, if we can forge this new league, the key is the presidents, the ADs and the commissioner being willing to do what is needed to protect the league, sell the league, and promote its collective and individual programs. So far, the Big East leadership has shown an inability. With the C7 schools gone, the conflict of interest that clouded the decision-making process will be gone and the schools can forge together unified. Perhaps this latter point is why Coach Holland is changing his role. His leadership could really benefit this new league and ECU along the way.

Any way, I have waxed on long enough. In short, love the teams we are “stuck with,” hate the Big East legacy with ECU, and have hope that our future will be bright.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Will post later on the game tomorrow.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

6 comments on “What’s in a Name? For the Pirates, the Conference Matters Less than Affiliation

  1. Ralph Wright

    The Big Easts biggest problem just walked out the door. The funny part is they left because the conference finally got some decent leadership (think the new commish is a winner) and they were about to lose their ridiculous place at the college football decision making table, I can’t wait to see what can be built now that the biggest road block has been removed.

  2. Ron Thanks for this kind of feel as if I wrote it myself. My hope for our program was to gain admission to the Big East. Living in the DC market and having all sorts of connections to the programs when the league was founded I though this would be a great fit. The ACC has never done us any favors and here they were raiding the BE and making it a weaker league.

    The Italian blood in me would suggest why get mad get even. The best way I would have known to do that was set up shop in the heart of ACC country and that was to add and promote East Carolina University to the BE long ago. When the BE raided CUSA for Cincy, Louisville, and USF we should have been included and I think the BE could have held onto their league. At that time all of the state schools in NC were struggling and you could have made the case we were the best of these programs. I think if we had the money and exposure the potential was there to make that happen. The BE could of had a presence in the heart of ACC country and battled head to head rather than get rolled. They had a chance to promote a winning program that had all of the elements with one exception and that was money. At that time I think the media market debate was a non issue. What upsets me to this day about that is that there was a time I would get excited to see an ECU sticker on a car around here. Today Im stunned not to see several everytime I leave my house.

    Sadly the BE sat around and watched their once proud league get cherry picked. As they say timing is everything and while the BE was struggling a little it seemed as if the entire league turned over their football coaches at the same time didnt help the cause. The media pounced and declared this to be a lousy football conference when if you looked into deeply they were not as bad as advertised. When we finally got the call I was not overjoyed because you had to have serious doubts about the future.

    IMO the BE was about one program and that was Syracuse once the Orange hit the road that was it for the basketball schools. I think the C7 move should have happened years ago and perhaps they could have saved both basketball and football. No matter how you look at it they might be saved but will be weaker.

    Today I think we are in a race to solidify a league with what remains. Im sure Cincy and UConn would love to leave but I dont see the Big 5 coming up with an offer. Could the MWC step in and add SMU, UH, and perhaps a few more I think yes but I dont see that being as strong as the current league on the table. IMO I do see the potential here and I think if you could hold it together it would easily be the best available. My fear is that panic sets in and these programs jump at the 1st offer on the table rather than see what is in their best interests over the long haul.

    • Great analysis DCP28…(you need to pop up your own blog!) I couldn’t agree more and the point about where the other NC programs were at the time and then subsequently watching the new BE member Virginia Tech (very much a twin sister to us at the time) so easily come into NC and begin poaching recruits – almost instantly – only reinforces your point…ECU would have had a straight line to top-level recognition and may have quickly separated itself from the ACC schools in the state. The saturation of schools in the ACC from NC would have, IMO, become a major liability for those schools while ECU would have flown under a banner with the likes of Va Tech, WVU, and Miami. Oh what SHOULD have been. I can’t help reflecting on the lack of UNC system support to lobby on behalf of ECU…what a crooked system. But, I must stop now because I am slipping toward that joke of a report by Gov. Martin…

      I am glad the C7 schools are gone now and I think we are bonded to the right group of schools (for now) to begin growing again. And finally, if this group stays together, I am thrilled that I will be able to catch games at Temple, UConn and Navy going forward!

      Have a great holiday and man, if you ever start your own corner of cyberspace, let me…will be first to sign up!

      Go Pirates!

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