ECU wants to join the Big 12, and while the Pirates are not generally considered a prime candidate like BYU, Cincinnati, and Houston, the program is giving it its best shot.
ESPN Big 12 writer Jake Trotter obtained a copy of the letter which ECU sent to commissioner Bob Bowlsby and the presidents and athletic directors of the conference’s 10 member schools. There aren’t a ton of specific details in the brief letter, but athletic director Jeff Compher promises that the program “would deliver the entire State of North Carolina” to the league.
ECU does have a passionate fan base, and the Pirates have had some solid recent success. The program has made eight bowl games in the last 10 years, and have had recent success against local Power Five programs, like North Carolina and Virginia Tech. They would also give the Big 12 a second team in the same general area as West Virginia, which is a factor.
But “deliver the entire State of North Carolina?” As popular as the Pirates may be in the state, do they really stack up when compared to UNC, N.C. State, and Duke, especially when basketball popularity is factored in? That seems a bit unlikely.
There are definitely worse candidates that have been thrown out there, and the Pirates do bring some interesting factors to the table, but we would bet on them to be involved in this round of Big 12 expansion.
Update: IBX Media sports director Josh Graham has acquired the letter that ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton sent to the Big 12 as a formal declaration of interest in joining the league. It cites football attendance, donation levels, potential market share in the growing state of North Carolina, and a number of the school’s best academic programs as reasons it should be invited to the league.
— Josh Graham (@_JoshDGraham) August 25, 2016