ECU announced their acceptance of their invitation to the Big East today; the same day that conference opponent Tulane announced theirs. These teams will be the fifth and six members to leave Conference USA for the Big East in the past two years.
From a popularity standpoint, this is a great move for the program and could help the Pirates expand their fan base nationally. The Big East stakes its claim in some of the top U.S. media markets and the addition of new teams could lead to even further expansion. This realignment should help bring exposure to this program, its fans, and show people what the Pirate Nation is about.
Pirates will face similar opponents
With the addition of the Pirates and the Green Wave, the Big East will have 13 members in 2014. This is barring the departure of UConn or Louisville; two schools that reports speculate to be on top of the list to replace Maryland in their departure from Atlantic Coast Conference in two years.
As of right now, the Big East will consist of ECU, Tulane, UConn, Louisville, South Florida, Cincinnati, Tulane, Temple, Boise State, San Diego State, UCF, SMU, Memphis, and Houston in 2014. Navy is also scheduled to join the conference in 2015. Pirate fans will quickly notice that this new conference looks a lot like Conference USA with the addition of two schools from the Mountain West and one from the Mid-American Conference.
This season the Pirates went 7-1 in Conference USA and 8-4 overall, giving them their best record under Coach Ruffin McNeill. Success in the Big East shouldn't be all that hard to come by as they'll potentially face a lot of teams they've had success against in past seasons.
What to look forward to
With the Pirates moving to the Big East, the Pirate Nation has plenty of things to look forward to coming 2014. This is an opportunity for East Carolina to get their brand out there, so to speak. The Big East provides a ton of media outlets that may have not been available to the Pirates before the realignment. Fans should expect unparalleled growth from this program in the future.
The conference announced Nov. 13 that it will be split into east and west divisions; but perhaps the most exciting news was when the conference also announced it will have an inaugural Big East Championship game in 2014. Pending future realignment, the Pirate Nation can look forward to their team going up against some new interesting opponents.
Overall, accepting this invitation shows that this program is ready to take the next step in entering the BCS. It also shows that the school has confidence in a team that has played consistent football for close to decade. This is a huge opportunity for East Carolina, not just for the football team, but for the University as a whole. The Big East is a big time conference that has been home to many great programs over the years; now it's up to the Pirates to decide how great they can be.