Beat State or C-USA Title?

by Chris Stansbury

Let me start this article by saying this is for fans only. Don’t form your opinion as a coach, athletic director or even as pluses and minuses of recruiting. Just base it on being a fan.
Pirate fans, would you rather beat N.C. State on November 25th or would you rather win a Conference USA title? For the purposes here, you can’t have both.
East Carolina fans have built up a rivalry with N.C. State fans. Whether it goes back to the Peach Bowl, or even before that to when the games halted because we tore the goal posts down at Carter-Finley. Maybe you are new to the Pirate Nation and this is just an in-state rivalry. No matter how you look long your perspective, it’s a rivalry.
On the other hand, winning a Conference USA title would be tremendous. It’s great for the program, and it might (no guarantees, MIGHT) help us jump to another conference. Which is more important to you? I would bet many of you choose the North Carolina State victory. Don’t decide yet.
Those of you saying "Conference USA title". It’s a no brainer." Is it? Say you lose to N.C. State, a team suffering through a miserable season and their coach is on the hot seat. We lose to the Pack, but go on and win a Conference USA crown. What will the State fans say?
"What kind of conference title is that? We are having an awful year and aren’t going to a bowl game. And we STILL beat ECU!!"
Flip the coin. We beat (or even destroy) N.C. State, but fall in the conference title game. We finish the year 7-5. We look back at a year where we were picked to finished dead last and won the east. We were rebuilding for the future with young talent at nearly every position and now we have the hammer down and can’t wait until 2007.
Different thought.. Ask a Michigan or Ohio State fan the same question. Win this week or win a National Championship? Ask John Cooper? He led Ohio State to nine and ten win seasons every year, but couldn’t beat Michigan. FIRED.
Ask Peyton Manning. A God in Rocky Top. Would he have taken an S-E-C Championship or a win against Florida? Betcha he’d take a Florida win every time.
So, it’s not as clear cut as you might have thought.
Beat N.C. State or win a Conference USA Title? Tough call. I’ll take the win in Raleigh.

Chris Stansbury