Virginia Tech Opts Out of Three Road Games at ECU, Will Play FCS Opponent in 2019

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Virginia Tech Football Lane Stadium
(Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Virginia Tech announced today that they will not travel to East Carolina for previously-scheduled football road games in 2019, 2023, and 2025. The Hokies are replacing the 2019 game at East Carolina with a home game against an unnamed out of state FCS opponent, giving Virginia Tech seven home games for the 2019 schedule.

Virginia Tech Director of Athletics Whit Babcock said in a teleconference, “We believe we have an opponent identified, we’re working through the contract type stuff before we can formally talk about it, but I anticipate it will be an FCS opponent.” He later noted that it will be an out-of-state FCS opponent.

Babcock admitted, “Having two [FCS opponents] on our [2019] schedule is not ideal. Strength of schedule-wise, we go to Notre Dame next year. That’s good. But obviously two FCS opponents is not ideal.” The Hokies also host Furman in 2019, on August 31.

Babcock noted that the FCS opponent will not be a direct replacement in ECU’s scheduled September 21 slot. “The seventh home game with most likely be in October, not September. So that September 21 game will be open for an ACC opponent.”

The season ticket price, previously announced at $375, will be $400 (the same as 2018, which also had a seven-game home schedule), and a $25 concession voucher will be included for each season ticket purchased. The season ticket renewal process will be briefly suspended until the Tech Athletics Ticket Office has time to finalize details for fans.

The East Carolina home games scheduled for 2020, 2022, and 2024 are still on the schedule, but Babcock does not anticipate those games will be played. “As of now, the games to be played in Blacksburg are still on the schedule. We did not opt out of those. If East Carolina still wants to come up here and play, we would happily host them. I don’t know what they would do. I would be a little surprised. But technically no, we’re just out of the games in Greenville.”

The Hokies tried to negotiate with ECU to schedule a neutral site for 2019 in Charlotte. “We talked to ECU about playing at a neutral site to help them with the financials of losing a home game, but we were not able to come to an agreement on that.”

East Carolina canceled a visit to Virginia Tech on September 15 due to concerns over Hurricane Florence. The Pirates announced the cancellation on Twitter and their official web site before notifying the Hokies, causing a rumored rift in relations between the two schools. Observers have been anticipating that the future of the series, which included six games from 2019-2025, might be in peril.

“It had somewhat been on our mind in previous years, and obviously with the miscommunication and the situation this year, it gave us a chance to sit back and evaluate our schedule,” Babcock said. “We had played East Carolina, as you guy know, a number of years home and home. With the ODU series coming on line and some one offs against Middle Tennessee State and Marshall, just looking at it from an overall football perspective, that’s the direction we went.”

Babcock said that Virginia Tech anticipates playing Marshall in 2023 and 2024, but that nothing is finalized yet.

About scheduling FCS opponents, Babcock said, “I still value them, and we’ll play one a year from time to time. Two is not something we’ll do again, barring unforeseen circumstances. It’s good for those schools financially, it’s good for us to have home games and hopefully get a win. I tend to like in-state FCS opponents, I think that’s part of our role as an in-state institution.”

Babcock knows that the 2019 schedule, which now consists of FCS Furman, ODU, Wake Forest, Duke, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and a second unnamed FCS opponent, is not an attractive schedule.

“We’re certainly asking for the loyalty and generosity from Hokies for that [$400] price. I know it’s up there. It’s the same as last year. The consistency in revenues is important. Essentially, by adding a seventh game, we just added $25 to the season ticket price, and then we also added in a $25 concession voucher for every season ticket … We’d like to ask our fans to hang in there with us this year. We don’t take anyone for granted but we know our home schedule in 2019 that Hokies demand more and enjoy more, and if you look in the out years, I think they’ll feel good about the direction.”

The Hokies have future out of conference home dates against Penn State (2020), Notre Dame (2021 and 2028), West Virginia (2022), Purdue (2023), Rutgers (2024), Wisconsin (2025), BYU (2026), Maryland (2027 and 2029), and Arizona (2030). In addition, Atlantic Division opponents on future home schedules include Syracuse (2021) and Florida State (2023).

Many thanks to Andy Bitter of The Athletic for helping with the accuracy of transcribed quotes.

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72 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Wow – lots of venom on this board directed at ECU. Folks must be getting their “Bah, humbugs! “ out of their systems.

    For what it’s worth, I will be sorry to see us stop playing them. We’ve had some good, competitive games over the years; and I’ve always felt the fans there treated us well. VT scheduling FCS teams is the real joke. And now two in one season? Why don’t we at least schedule a solid FCS team like Troy or Buffalo – or North Dakota State?

    1. This is exactly how i feel. “For what it’s worth, I will be sorry to see us stop playing them. We’ve had some good, competitive games over the years; and I’ve always felt the fans there treated us well. VT scheduling FCS teams is the real joke.”

      The reality is…..ECU is and has been good enough to beat the Hokies and you want and need that for media optics and respectability. But due to poor mishandling by ECU administrators, Whit had to make a business decision to send a strong message to ECU and any other program that VT contractual relationships are NOT to be (insert your best word here ) with. I agree with that decision but it sucks because ECU is a nice trip to make especially for us South bound Hokies plus it kept our program in the consciousness and footprint of North Carolina multiple times every year which has become an important strategic “home” recruiting battleground for us with the sad absence of Virginia recruiting success.

      Being in the Tarheel state on a constant basis appears to have paid us quick dividends. At least ECU, the fan base, and the players have a chance to be the next Duke or UCF versus playing Wake Forest! ECU gets more respect. How much prestige and national league respect do we earn from playing
      The Wake Forest program in football……even with a win?

      1. Thanks for the support. As for picking on WF, they had a respectable year in 2018 and were certainly capable of giving us a tussle had we played them.

  2. I live in Charlotte. The only reason NC State and UNC play ECU on occasion is the NC legislature put the squeeze on State and UNC to play ECU. VT has been giving ECU long term home and home contracts, which I never understood. Glad Whit cut ECU off. Good luck to ECU finding another ACC school to give ECU a long term deal.

  3. Great decision Whit!!!!! Getting rid of ECU has been on my bucket list for many years. I hope they cancel games in Bburg.

  4. I’m glad ECU was cancelled. Marshall would be nice replacement and away game would make for fun road game weekend with manageable travel for fans and team!

  5. I dont like the way this year went down for sure…but I had a great time when we went to ECU for the game a few years back when Cody J missed like 4 FG’s and we almost lost…2013…we sat in the middle of their fans at the 40 and were treated well. I feel sorry for them cause the players probably did not make the decision to bolt to Florida…that was the interim AD (idiot) and now it cost them a good series. Lets face it – they beat us a few years here and there and were not an easy win every year…better than any FCS crap we are doing including ODU (way to many games there – need to be more spread out IMHO). GO HOKIES…Play anywhere anytime a D1 game!

  6. Why not reach out to UCF? They want to add strength of schedule and would probably make a 2019 game work to do it. Also, it would draw a lot of interest.

    1. UCF has stated with Florida they are only interested in a 1 and 1 series. UF offered a 2 and 1 split and they turned it down. They are a tough opponent and demanding a seat as equals which they are not yet…hard sell to a P5 AD.

  7. I never liked the ECU series, but I don’t see how playing home and home series with ODU and Marshall is any better.

  8. I’ll miss the incredible scenery in Greenville. That in mind, we need to pick up a series with Ole Miss, Georgia or any school in FL.

  9. Go for it I have always wanted to grid of ECU they think their poop doesn’t stink ..well it does!!!! They left for Frieda..I hope the foot boys like that!!! Ha they will never get ove that crap…i have always been for canceling that div 2 school football program they are… they will never be a top school with the idiots they have running it..CONGRATS T TECH FOOTBALL PROGRAN FORTELLING THE TO GO TO HELL

  10. Great decision ! I think ECU has gotten too big for their britches and they were not totally ethical in the way they handle things in canceling the game. Glad to see canceling the games with them.

  11. Another data point as to why we have the right leaderat the helm. Whomever the opponent m, Section7 will travel.

    +10099^n power for Whit Babcock.

    Let’s Go…Bowling
    BearKitties here we come.

  12. ECU did not botch anything; they knew exactly what they were doing. Underhanded, but
    VERY profitable. Stay away from anything ECU-ish. Don’t even schedule pickleball with ’em!

    1. Disagree. The Chancellor had no clue what this would cost his athletic department, or certainly appears not to.

      What it cost him was a D1A school that traveled well to Greenville every other year at a cheap price. That is now gone permanently.

  13. Glad ECU off the schedule. Down here in SEC country, the fans see see ECU and think they are an FCS school anyway. No upside to the game, win and it’s “eh”, lose and it’s an embarrassment.

    Good riddance.

  14. Good. You work with honorable people who operate above board. You don’t work with people who are at best incompetent and at worse are duplicitous.

  15. Can you comment on this; there was inside info on the TSL boards that ECU cashed the game check for the cancelled game and has not returned the payment. This has not been talked about but it was reported by an insider.

  16. Glad to dump ECU in Greenville. Hopefully, we’ll dump them in Blacksburg too. The way ECU handled this 2018 hurricane and reschedule deal with NC State was bad. I wouldn’t ever play them again – home, away or neutral site. Bye, Bye, Pirates. See if NC State or UNC will give you a ten year home and home deal.

  17. All in favor say “aye”

    “AYE!!!”

    What I’m not seeing in any articles is just how much ECU cost us financially this year. Cancelling the first game, although I understand why they did it, cost us a lot of money. Then instead of rescheduling with us to make it right, they scheduled with NC State because it benefitted them. That cost us more money that we had to shell out to Marshall, not to mention the lack of re-sales for tickets to that game.

    ECU mishandled this from start to finish, and it cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars – dare I say over a million?

    This is what is known as “Consequence for your actions/decisions.” It’s a great life lesson, and it’s the right move for us.

  18. Look, don’t get me wrong, I was all for ditching ECU but replacing them with another FCS home game is embarrassing in a year where we already had a putrid home schedule. The game won’t count as a win, basically worthless.

    Optics on this won’t swing in our favor either, the CBS article I read was clearly pro ECU…in any event it’s done now…Go Hokies!

    1. So why don’t you ask Whit what kinds of OPTIONS we had for 2019 to replace ECU at this late date? I don’t know any specifics but I DO know options with someone NOT FCS were slim to none for 2019 and personally I’d rather play anyone but ECU at THEIR place at this point. I don’t think what Whit is doing is embarrassing at all.

    2. cbs has contract with american conference. so they lost a good property in ecu versus va tech on tv. maybe CBS should provide some adult supervision to East Carolina

  19. Solid management decision. Grateful to have Babcock at the helm, and let’s give credit to our President Sandman who hired him!

  20. Good move ECU has been a drain on our schedule anyway. They have gone 3-9 each of the past three years. We can find a better school to replace them with for our schedule. An FCS school next year will be no worse. And future replacements can be better. Marshall would be better.

  21. Very happy to see this. I suspect Tech would not have been treated well in Greenville in 2019, had they made the trip.

    Hopefully ECU cancels the remaining games at Lane in future years and we can replace them with some combo of Marshall, Charlotte, Navy, or even maybe luck into getting a P5 team or two.

    1. Don’t want any part of Navy. We are all elated that the ACC is finally rid of the triple O at GT. Don’t want to now go out and get another one.

  22. Good deal! As they say, what goes around comes around. And its a better ride for me to Marshall than ECU anyway.

  23. Assume this will not be a popular opinion but I think that this is a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face. All indications are that ECU pretty much botched everything related to the cancellation of the 2018 game, so I agree with canceling the other games in the series, but not the 2019 game at this point in the process and replacing it with a FCS school. And why start the renewal process for season tickets prior to figuring this out? Right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing?

    1. You’re right, not a popular opinion. I FULLY support Whit’s decision to cut the chord w ECU. Hope we never play them again.

    2. Meh, its not a big deal. ECU is almost like playing an FCS opponent. We don’t get any more credit for beating them than an FCS opponent. I’m glad they finally won’t be a fixture on our schedules any more.

    1. We are going to kick some butt next year- won’t matter. Willis and our receivers r going to torch the ACC🔥

      1. How will Willis torch the ACC when he’s QP’s backup? LOL….just sayin’…may the best Hokie win!

  24. Good move Whit. ECU screwed this up and now must pay the price. Hokie fans haven’t been thrilled over this series so mostly positive to see it change. Scheduling NC State after cancelling our game was the nail in the coffin – I believe. So they can take full responsibility for this mess and both universities can move on. The Pirates can sail off into the sunset!!!!

  25. ECU had a good deal with Tech and blew it. ECU’s been a mess recently. Maybe their new football coach (from JMU) will turn things around. I’d rather play nearby Appalachian State than ECU going forward. I like playing Marshall too. They gained my respect by agreeing to play us in our 12th game. I agree with Whit that if we play FCS schools that they should be from Virginia (if possible). I’d like to see us stop playing FCS schools but it probably won’t happen.

  26. Suck it pirates! Let this be a lesson that if you want to play with the big boys, you need to at least have a friggin’ AD.

  27. Totally support this decision from AR Babcock. It’s ECU who has more to gain from this series and it ruined it. Very happy news for Christmas!!! Go Hokies!!!

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