Nov 282012

Published: November 28, 2012

Pirates will be a big plus in Big East

Caulton Tudor – Staff Columnist –

By the time ECU begins play as a Big East football member in 2014, the league will resemble the Conference USA of 2012.

It turns out that the Pirates will be changing addresses while maintaining much the same competitive company. But be that as it may, the school and its thousands of loyal, long-suffering fans won with Tuesday’s news of the pending relocation.

To have been left behind in the gutted Conference USA lineup when Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, Southern Methodist and Tulane were moving on to the Big East would have been demoralizing and costly.


Big East television money will be considerably less than the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC but still more than ECU could have made as the primary bread winner in the diluted C-USA.

And as much and as often as the Big East has shunned ECU over the years, the league will benefit more from the Pirates’ football presence than any of the other C-USA newcomers.

Cable television market size and ESPN are the driving forces behind all expansion and realignment, which is why ECU has been skipped over so many times.

But at some point the college football business model has to place at least a degree of emphasis on the actual product and game atmosphere. That’s where ECU will bring more to the Big East table that it takes.

The Pirates will arrive with the Big East’s largest fan base, the league’s best traveling fans and a program that should win seven or more games each season even while tackling aggressive non-league schedules.

For now, ECU athletic director Terry Holland faces the challenge of finding homes for other sports, but that problem could be resolved easier than it sounds now. If – as expected – the Big East loses Louisville, Cincinnati and Connecticut to other leagues, an all-sports option could fall ECU’s way fairly fast.

In a perfect world, federal and state lawmakers would have enough common sense to restore geographic and academic sanity to college sports and conference affiliations nationwide.

The current dynamic works in such a manner that taxpayers are bankrolling athletic plants that are being used by television companies to rake in billions of dollars.

No school or group of fans have been more abused by those strong-arm conference and cable networks over the years than ECU.

Tuesday, the Pirates finally caught a long overdue break.

Tudor: 919-829-8946

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