Strangers in the afternoon: Pirates eye bowl opponent

Published 10:24 am Thursday, December 9, 2021

Hear that? That’s the feint gasp heard from across the cotillion dance floor. Your 2021 bowl partner has been selected dear old East Carolina, and the reaction is at least…audible.  Bluebloods from Boston College? – meet the Pirates of East Carolina. Now y’all behave. Use the salad fork first.

Things could’ve been different. Once the sausage-making, I mean bowl section process let it slip that ECU was bound for Annapolis, the always dream-ready Pirate Nation would speculate on which ACC team would be chosen to suit up against the suddenly no longer terrible East Carolina. Would it be our allegedly one-sided rival in Chapel Hill? Or maybe a rematch against our old running mates, Virginia Tech? Perhaps even a redux of the brief but lusty affair held with the conference-hopping Louisville Cardinals?

Eh. Pass. This year’s vaguely dangerous ECU team was passed over like that blue stuff on the team buffet. Nobody likes blue food and no one wants to play the Pirates. It’s at least comforting to know that some things never change.

Nope. This year’s edition of the Military Bowl would consist of our notoriously wild-eyed and unrefined Local Boys v. Storied High Society –probably coached by the grandson of Carey Grant; a regular treatise on the barely-bowl-eligible Haves versus the typically woebegone Have-nots.

Given all that, it’s not surprising that this will mark the first meeting between the two programs, and with only rare and fleeting historical connections.  Former ECU coach Steve Logan spent some time on Chestnut Hill, coaching up soon-to-be NFL star Matt Ryan and paying too much in rent. Current Pirate coach Mike Houston used to take the JMU bus just outside of Boston on the way to play the Bears of Maine. You can’t even see the skyline from there. They made it like that on purpose.

At least BC and EC had one common opponent this year. Well, sort of. Both took turns kicking around the Temple Owls like a rented mule. That’s probably why the oddsmakers basically call this one a toss up.

Even though this strange game played in a strange afternoon time slot is void of any shared heritage, the game from ECU’s standpoint is not without precedent.

In 1995, ECU used a stout defense to render the vaunted Stanford Cardinal helpless, and defeated the “Harvard of the West’” to claim the Liberty Bowl crown. It just goes to show that your pedigree can’t help you once you step on the field. And should history repeat and the Pirates find a way to win, just remember to bow from the waist.