In this installment of the SC8 diary, Josh Graham of 94.3 The Game in Greenville is a guest contributor so familiar with ECU Pirate nation that he has all of the talking points covered without actually doing interviews.
The Big 12 conference announced its plans to seek expansion earlier this week. The reason this is all happening is because the Big 12 doesn’t in fact have 12 members. It only has 10, actually, ever since Nebraska, Colorado and Missouri parted ways in 2012, and this matters mostly because the league currently doesn’t have enough teams to hold a conference championship game in football.
After the news came down, Oklahoma president David Boren said the league would consider expanding by either two or four schools and ever since then, media pundits have speculated which programs would be the best fit.
Cincinnati … Houston … Colorado State … BYU… UConn.
All great candidates, and I wouldn’t be surprised if any of them were extending invitations, but I’ve heard nobody mention the top contender among the group: The East Carolina Pirates. Even if it’s just in football, the Pirates are perfect for this league and I’ll tell you why.
ECU has already paid its dues in the American Athletic Conference. Yes, I know it’s only been two years (and that the Pirates haven’t even appeared in a conference championship game in any league since 2009), but, um, they’ve beaten five straight ACC opponents, so clearly they belong in the Power 5. Also, just think about the television appeal ECU would bring.
I can see it now. Saturday, noon, ESPNU, and “LIVE FROM BEAUTIFUL LAWRENCE, KANSAS, IT’S A HEATED CONFERENCE SHOWDOWN BETWEEN THE EAST CAROLINA PIRATES AND THE KANSAS JAYHAWKS.” I just got goose bumps.
Plus, I’m sure ECU would love to see its old pal Lincoln Riley again. Remember when he was the youngest offensive coordinator in college football and called plays when ECU rolled up 789 yards and 70 points on the Tar Heels in 2014? Even though Riley is a Broyles Award winning coordinator now at Oklahoma, I’d bet he still misses the Pirates just as much as the Pirates miss him. Maybe more.
Often times, I hear the Greenville television market getting knocked when conference expansion conversations happen. And yes, it’s not that large. But considering the Big 12 is a Texas-based league, I don’t think we’re looking at this the right way. Instead of looking at ECU’s market in terms of television size, let’s view it strictly in terms of BBQ quality. Texas has the brisket, I get that and I love it. But Greenville has B’s and Skylight Inn and Parker’s and many other great choices. Whether you like slaw on your pork or not — I personally choose to go without it — ECU’s BBQ scene stacks up with anybody in the country.
But if you’re the Big 12, you better act quickly and pick up ECU while you can. Because if you don’t somebody else will.
A couple years ago, when Pirate Nation was clamoring for ECU to be considered to join the SEC, Steve Spurrier said “East Carolina is a lot tougher game than maybe picking up one of those bottom Big Ten teams.” You hear that? The Big Ten. Your move, Bob Bowlsby.