So, the Big East followed through on its plan to hand out a bunch of invitations to the newly configured Big East (and West) League. And, there were no surprises as the invites went to UCF, Houston, SMU, Navy, Air Force, and Boise State. Of course, there is buzz now that BSU will take the bait and join the AQ conference, which makes it worthwhile for all the others to join.
I will share my thoughts on what this means for ECU a little later. But first, I have to wonder if BSU really does take the bait and jump, will it really be worth it in the long run? The thing that makes BSU so great is that they have turned a great run into a mythical status. I do not think that they Big East group of teams is all that earth-shattering, but the attrition rate will be higher than in the MWC. It is not a stretch to think that in say, 5 years, Boise is a middle of the road BE team with seasons under .500 and others where they are decent. The rigors of a schedule that contains more than 3 legit teams season will impact that program and could possibly push the BCS games further away than real them in for BSU. The proposed MWC/CUSA merger really fit BSU to a T and would have resulted in an AQ status in 2014, by all measures. In the merger model, BSU changes nothing, but gains the AQ status and can perpetuate its mystique. It would add one more high caliber game to its schedule and its travel wear and tear would stay the same.
In the reconfigured BE, they will get 1-2 travel breaks a year and then have to come East – a long way East – for the balance of the schedule. Further, I really do not see that this helps Boise in recruiting a ton. Maybe a bump here and there, but at a price as well. Will the Pacific Northwest and California be tuning in to watch BSU travel to Rutgers? Say what you will about Nevada and CSU and Fresno, but they are geographically positioned in a way that supports BSU’s larger geographic footprint in the WEST. Maybe the new TV contract puts BSU on national television 12 times a year, but not likely and if not national, then the appeal to go to Idaho may not be the biggest out there.
Bottom line, BSU’s formula will take a massive hit going into the reconfigured BE.
Now…ECU. Obviously, for me, if this BE thing goes down and all 6 teams are in and then they came to ECU to be the final FB only member, we would have no choice but to take it and it would OK. I suspect, however, that we will always be a fixture on the left out list with this BE. Now, because the way that they have treated ECU, they really cannot go back on their overt omission of our program and do so without admitting that they were wrong in what they were assessing. I am betting we will never be in the mix. If Navy and AFA are in…next choice will be Army despite any earlier “no” posture that the West Pointers have indicated in the past. If not Army, they will go probably pursue Temple again or Memphis or Tulane. It has become personal for the BE when it comes to ECU for some reason.
So, what do we do then? Well, we finish this season strong and get our butts back to the CUSA title game. And, we take up the torch as one of two obvious AQ omissions, ourselves and Southern Mississippi. We lawyer up if we have to and we put pressure on the ACC.
It has always been a long, hard road for ECU and it is about to get harder. Non-AQ status is a killer. With the $2000 stipend option for schools, we will get even fewer guys who are being courted by AQ teams OR we are going to break the bank trying to keep up with the “haves.” For all the work that Coach Holland has done, his job just got even harder. And atop that agenda, he really needs to negotiate an individual deal with ESPN and Fox. We need to off-set the revenue gap and we have been pretty good to ESPN.
It is a sad, sad state that College football is in now. Why have conference anymore since they no longer carry any academic or geographic relevance? Why not just have individual contracts with ESPN or Fox per school and let them decide who plays who?
ECU football will survive, but it is a shame that ECU has been relegated to the margins despite seemingly doing everything that should be done in football in regards to fan attendance, branding, TV ratings, facilities and the like. It truly is criminal what is being done and unfortunately, the have nots are so desperate to get in that they will sell out themselves to get there.