ECU explores bowl options

ECU has yet to lock into its bowl destination following Rice's Conference USA Championship win against Marshall Saturday. IES has compiled a list of its options.

The East Carolina football team (9-3, 6-2 C-USA) was forced to divert from its original bowl plan just mere hours after its mind was set on either Memphis or Annapolis, Md.

The likely destination is the Beef O'Brady's Bowl, played between Conference-USA and American Athletic Conference schools, in St. Petersburg on Dec. 23. The other available options with C-USA tie-ins are the Heart of Dallas (Big 10) and Sheraton Hawaii (Mountain West) bowls.

The dominoes began to fall when Rice (10-3, 7-1 C-USA) won decisively, 41-24, against Marshall (9-4, 7-1 C-USA) to win the conference title game. The win prompted a Liberty Bowl (Southeastern Conference) invitation that the Owls accepted. Marshall will head to the Military Bowl to meet an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent.

Logic would have North Texas (8-4, 6-2 C-USA) in the Heart of Dallas Bowl in its first year as a C-USA member because of its proximity to the game's site. Although, that scenario makes the most sense, the Mean Green could still head to Hawaii.

If they indeed are in paradise, it will likely be either ECU or Middle Tennessee State (8-4, 6-2 C-USA) in Texas.

Opponents in each of these bowl games have yet to be determined and in the Beef O'Brady's bowl's case, the American's spot will be filled by another school, likely from the ACC or the Mid-American Conference, because it could not fill all of its tie-ins.

Speaking of the American being unable to fill its spots, ECU could face the SEC in the BBVA Compass Bowl. The game-site is at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. on Jan. 4. ECU is 0-3 in Alabama-based bowl games.

The Pirates have appeared twice in bowl games inside the state of Florida – winning back-to-back Tangerine Bowls in 1964 and 1965. Their lone Texas appearance was a 40-27 victory against Texas Tech in the 2000 Bowl, held in Houston.

The Heart of Dallas Bowl has the highest pay-out of all of these bowls at $1.1 million. Next is the Compass Bowl's $900,000. Meanwhile, the Beef O'Brady's ($537, 500) and Hawaii Bowls' ($650,000) pay-outs are substantially lower.

ECU's last bowl win was in the 2007 Hawaii Bowl against Boise State. No decision is expected to be announced until Sunday.

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