ECU Bowl Projections
by Jonathan Ellerbe

It is somewhat ironic this week that ECU plays Marshall for the right to become bowl eligible considering that was the last team the Pirates played in a bowl game.  That’s right, the last time ECU was bowl eligible was November 10, 2001 after ECU won at Cincinnati 28-26 and pushed their record to 6-3.  Unfortunately, ECU did not win another game that year, losing to Louisville, Southern Miss and who can forget the “Mobile Meltdown” loss to Marshall. 

Skip Holtz and his staff have overachieved in many peoples opinions already this year but the Pirate Nation is hungry for a bowl berth.  However, the buffet ahead for the Pirate football team is not a cake walk and includes: some “tough buffalo” (the Thundering Herd have won 3 straight games), “hot rice” (the Owls have won 3 of their last 4) and “rabid wolf” (the Wolfpack are losers of 4 in a row but are an underachieving dangerous animal).  The Pirate Nation expects to win now and a loss in any game would leave fans with an upset stomach and a bad taste in their mouth.

Assuming things go positive for ECU over the next three weeks and the Pirates win one or all three games, there are several post season options and here are my favorite scenarios:

1.  The Liberty Bowl - Win the C-USA Championship and ECU will be in Memphis on December 29, 2006 playing an SEC School.  Wouldn’t an ECU-South Carolina Liberty Bowl be awesome!  The Pirates and Gamecocks would be a sure sell out, plus you have the Skip Holtz/South Carolina angle and let’s not forget that Steve Spurrier is good for a quote or two. 

2. GMAC Bowl – The sizzle for this game is the date, January 7, 2007.  The Pirates would get a lot of extra practice time, be the third leg of the NFL Wildcard Playoff doubleheader that Sunday and be the last bowl game before the BCS Championship Game.

3.  New Orleans Bowl - I choose this selection third for the city!  I’ve always loved The Big Easy and would love to go back the Friday before Christmas and see the Pirates whip up on a Sun Belt Conference team.  A Pirate Bowl victory to finish the season would be a nice Christmas present early for everyone.

4.  Birmingham Bowl – This bowl comes in 4th on my wish list certainly not for location but for the fact ECU could face a Big East school like Pitt or South Florida.   It would be nice to break the “Winless Alabama Curse” over a BCS Big East team two days before Christmas.

5.  Fort Worth Bowl – This brutal December 23rd game could have the Pirates playing old bowl foe TCU from the Mountain West Conference.  I think Pirate fans only get excited about a December trip to Fort Worth if Mike Hamrick’s UNLV team was the Mountain West team on the other sidelines.  Unfortunately, UNLV is 1-8 with zero bowl hopes this year. 

Any bowl selection would be a positive step forward and would certainly help ECU begin to rebuild its name as a football school.  After all this is the same ECU football program that is not too far removed from a 1-11 season, paying two ex-football coaches and being consistently in the bottom 10 on  ECU has come a long way in a short period under Skip Holtz and hopefully after the next three weeks the foundation for the Pirate Football future will only get stronger.

Jonathan Ellerbe