2009 Monday Thoughts: East Carolina

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I’ve always wanted to go to an East Carolina game in Greenville, ever since a high school buddy of mine attended ECU and I started paying attention to them. They went 8-3 in our freshman year in 1983, with narrow road losses to Florida, Florida State and Miami. The Virginia Tech and ECU programs were very similar in size and scope until the early 90s, when VT got invited to the Big East and started to pull away.

From 1987 to 1992, as Virginia Tech was struggling with probation, the Hokies and Pirates played six straight times, with Tech winning just two. The two teams
went to just one bowl between them during those six years, with the Pirates putting together a sterling 11-1 season in 1991 and winning the Peach Bowl over
bitter rival NC State.

In late 1990, the Hokies received an invitation to the fledgling Big East
Football Conference, and started play in the BEFC in 1993. ECU received no such
invitation, and remained an independent for several more years, finally joining
the remnants of the Metro Conference and the Great Midwest in a new conference
called Conference USA.

The Hokies used their Big East membership as a springboard to national
success, and by the mid-1990s, Tech had left ECU behind. The 1993 and 1994 games
were competitive, with Tech winning both, but after a one-year hiatus in 1995,
the 1996 game in Blacksburg showed the growing division between the two
programs.

The week before the 1996 VT-ECU game was filled with turmoil for the Hokies.
Virginia Tech was in the midst of a long string of embarrassing off-field
incidents and arrests that culminated in what I called “Black
Wednesday
,” November 6, 1996, when eight VT football players were
indicted for criminal behavior in two separate incidents.

Most of the eight football players were suspended for the ECU game, including
All-American defensive end Cornell Brown. The Pirates were in the midst of
building an 8-3 season, and were considered a tough opponent. The Hokies were
going into a difficult game

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