East Carolina officially joins American Athletic Conference
Posted July 3
After being a member of Conference USA for the past 13 years, East Carolina officially joined the American Athletic Conference on Tuesday.
While the two conferences are similar with many of the same schools ECU started with in Conference USA, there will be an adjustment for the Pirates to go through.
“I think the biggest change for East Carolina in going from Conference USA to the American is going to be the television,” Denny O’Brien, who has covered the Pirates for the past 15 years, told Adam and Joe on 99.9 The Fan. “Conference USA had its deal with Fox Sports and CBS Sports Network, and by going to the American Conference they have a deal with ESPN.”
“It’s already guaranteed ECU will have six of their broadcasts on either ABC, ESPN, or one of the ESPN networks,” he said. “They’re going to be in more homes, and they’re going to be in a good time slot.”
For no lack of trying, it seems to many that this move comes a few years too late. The American, then known as the Big East, was one of the Big 6 conferences (ACC, SEC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12, Big East), but has since fallen out of that grouping.
“In order to realize the true advantages of being in this conference, which really is the old Big East, which, once upon a time, did have access to one of the BCS bowls, and a guaranteed slot in that, so from that, it’s almost a little bit of too little too late,” said O’Brien.
A possible break away of the Power 5 conferences to form a Division 4 could have huge negative repercussions for teams like East Carolina.
“If North Carolina and NC State move to playing nine conference games to only having three to play with, they are going to want to be much more creative with their scheduling,” he said. “Maybe play one game that’s hard to win, but play at least one, maybe two games, that they think they are guaranteed to win, and as we saw last year, East Carolina is not a guaranteed win.”
“From that stand point, it could have a huge negative repercussion on East Carolina, because those games matter on East Carolina’s season ticket package,” O’Brien said.
When all is said and done with East Carolina athletics, the jump to the AAC might not be what is viewed as the biggest jump in their history.
“In reality, when you look back at when East Carolina first joined Conference USA, in my mind, that really was a bigger moment for East Carolina than them moving up to the American now,” said O’Brien. “Before, East Carolina didn’t have a conference at all. Conference USA really was a good experience for East Carolina, for what it provided, and it was a huge step up from going from independent.”