A Message To The Pirate Nation
May 18, 2012
To the Pirate Nation:
This has been a time of great uncertainty for the Pirate Nation but the final result has been worth the wait. For the first time in East Carolina's FBS athletic history, it will have an in-state conference rivalry as well as a "border war" rivalry with another conference member. These two "cornerstones of competition" have consistently driven fan and media interest and appeal to recruits for all highly-successful FBS programs that have stood the test of time.
While the new rivalries will not immediately draw the same level of interest as those in the so-called power conferences - Alabama/Auburn and Alabama/Tennessee in the SEC, Texas/Texas A&M and Texas/Oklahoma in the Big 12, Michigan/Michigan State and Michigan/Ohio State in the Big 10, North Carolina/NC State and North Carolina/Virginia Tech in the ACC, and Washington/Washington State and Washington/Oregon in the Pac 12 - it will be our task to build these new rivalries just as, when provided with the opportunity, ECU built a first-class medical complex and is now building a first-class dental complex where only cotton and tobacco fields stood just a few years ago.
Through no fault of ECU, there has never been an opportunity for cornerstone rivalries prior to this time. Ironically, the dynamics of expansion have provided this opportunity at a time when some of the above rivalries in the power conferences are becoming diluted (UNC and NC State will not play each other "home and home" in basketball every year) or even possibly being discontinued (Texas/Texas A&M may not even play and definitely won't battle as conference rivals in the future). Add in the loss of the West Virginia/Pitt border war with BOTH leaving the Big East and you almost have to believe that Dr. Jenkins was watching over the Pirates and somehow ensuring that ECU did not fall into the trap of joining a conference that could never provide us with the necessary cornerstone rivalries to succeed at the highest level.
That does not mean that the road ahead is paved with television dollars that guarantee instant success in any sport. Just as the medical complex did not appear overnight in those cotton and tobacco fields, Pirates standing together through the good times and the bad times will determine our ultimate level of success in athletics. However, for the first time, we have a conference that can provide the cornerstone rivalries that will give us a chance to compete for fan and media interest. The border war with ODU should become an instant classic with large and passionate fan bases already in place at both schools.
While we will continue our efforts to best position the program for long-term success, our current goal should be to grow and develop our C-USA Division to create competition that will be beneficial for us in the regular season and create possible matchups with ACC opponents in the postseason.
For example, can you imagine the interest if ECU, Charlotte, ODU or Marshall met an ACC team in the Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium or in the NCAA Tournament in Greensboro? "What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve" (Napoleon Hill, Think And Grow Rich, 1937).
If ordinary "man" can accomplish the impossible, just think what a bunch of Pirates standing together can achieve!