East Carolina, which made public its desire to join the Big 12 through a series of tweets in July, is out of contention as a league expansion candidate. ESPN's Brett McMurphy reported on Wednesday that the Big 12 informed the Pirates they wouldn't be joining the conference.
ECU has been told by the Big 12 that the school is no longer a candidate for the league Here are statements from ECU pic.twitter.com/rmiYser1U4— WECT Sports (@wectsports) August 31, 2016
The league's been considering as many as 17 candidates, although just a few figure to have any real chance. The Pirates were among the most public of dreamers when word broke in July about the Big 12's desire to get bigger.
Statement from East Carolina AD Jeff Compher regarding Big 12 membership: pic.twitter.com/sgrX6rlXNy— Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB) July 21, 2016
Shooters shoot. There was no real no harm in trying. The Pirates were, of course, an extreme long shot to get into the Big 12. It seems like the entire rest of the AAC is trying to get into the Big 12, and unfortunately for ECU, most of their current conference-mates make a lot more sense for the switch than they do.
As this has worn on, East Carolina and its friends have been pretty aggressive about this.
Here is a tweet from a few days later in July, which seemed, uh, very natural:
The Pirates were on a very persistent Twitter run about this:
Also, members of the city council Greenville, N.C. (where ECU is located) got officially onboard. They said:
"Not only would the Big 12 conference gain a new, ultra competitive opponent on the field but it would also gain access to one of America's most die-hard college sports fan bases headquartered in one of Sports Illustrated's 2004 Sportstown USA communities. Historically, ECU has been known for its great game day atmosphere while continually filling its bleachers with fans. In 2010 ECU Football averaged over 50,000 fans per home game and currently has plans to add another 1,000 seats to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium by 2018, including luxury suites and a brand new press box."
Le's say this in East Carolina's defense: Claiming that they can "deliver the entire state of North Carolina," as they did last week, is one of the most outrageous boasts ever to come from this round of media market-obsessed college football realignment.
Everyone will joke on Rutgers and New York City, and may continue to do so as they see fit, but North Carolina is a state with four ACC teams. Even if the Pirates can beat their in-state competition sometimes, they're not exactly competing for significant mindshare.
East Carolina has been a pretty decent football team, has cool uniforms, and is usually pretty fun to watch. That's better than a lot of teams can say, but that was never really a resume for moving into a major conference.