Does the Southeastern Conference want a piece of the North Carolina television market? If it does, East Carolina University is ready a willing to offer up its viewership to support the cause.
In a recent interview with the Barnhardt and Durham Show on Atlanta's 790 The Zone, ECU's Athletics Director Terry Holland made it no secret that the Pirates are ready for the big time.
“Our great hope, someday, would be to be the SEC representative in the state of North Carolina," Holland told Tony Barnhardt. He later added that “If Mike Slive needs an extra team, he knows we’re here.”
These statements come after the University's recently evaporated hopes of joining the troubled Big East and as ECU's current home, Conference USA, works on a probable merger with the Mountain West.
Hindsight apparently has given Holland some relief over his program's Big East snub. “When I look at the current Big East structure, I have to admit, it has become more of a problem from a travel standpoint etc., than the conference we’re in currently," Terry said. "So while we’re disappointed with some of the decisions that the Big East has made, at this time we’re saying, well, for the long term, if you don’t share our values, then maybe we’re better off where we are."
East Carolina has become one of the more successful non-BCS programs in terms of attendance and regional support with an average home attendance this past season of over 50,000, which is even against a considerable number of automatic qualifying football programs.
Even with a considerable level of success, Terry thinks that ECU could flourish under the right circumstances. "The most tickets we’ve ever sold to a visiting team were in Conference-USA, because the distance involved has been 400," explained Holland. "If we were in a conference where we had some regional rivals, there’s no telling what our attendance could be and we would certainly expand our stadium again."
Though a spot in the SEC is a bit of a long shot, ECU's stock is certainly up at the moment as a regional up-and-comer and could gain more of a national reputation by maintaining a competitive television market presence and home attendance numbers. Those two factors bring in money, and after all, isn't that the only real factor that ultimately makes the decisions in college football?