03/17/10 — ECU starts 2010 football season against Tulsa

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ECU starts 2010 football season against Tulsa

By ECU Sports Information
Published in Sports on March 17, 2010 1:47 PM

ECU Sports Information

GREENVILLE -- The Ruffin McNeill era at East Carolina officially begins Sept. 5 before a nationally-televised audience when Conference USA foe Tulsa pays a visit to newly-expanded Dowdy Ficklen Stadium.

Kickoff is 2 p.m. on ESPN.

The Pirates, the two-time defending CUSA champions, face a 12-game schedule that includes contests against seven bowl qualifiers from a year ago. Memphis comes to Greenville nine days after the season opener.

"I've always been a person who has looked forward to challenges," said McNeill, the 20th head coach in program history. "Our scheduling philosophy is one I'm in agreement with and fully support. We're in this to continue to win championships, and the only way to compete for those and keep aspiring to reach new levels is to play the caliber of non-conference opponents we do.

"I think everyone will be excited from a local and regional standpoint to have the opportunity to line up against three ACC teams and have a program with a storied history and tradition like Navy visit Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium."

East Carolina travels to perennial ACC power Virginia Tech on Sept. 18 -- the first meeting between the two schools in Blacksburg since 2007. The Pirates make their second straight appearance against North Carolina in Kenan Stadium on Oct. 2, and return home two weeks later to play N.C. State.

The Pirates close out the non-conference portion of their schedule at home against Texas Bowl champion Navy on Nov. 6.

In addition to playing three members of automatic qualifying Bowl Champion Series conferences who earned bowl invitations a year ago, East Carolina will face four of last season's five Conference USA bowl qualifiers. Meetings against Southern Miss (R+L Carriers New Orleans), Marshall (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl), UCF (Beef O'Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl) and SMU (Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl) will complete the Pirates' schedule against postseason participants.

"I have a high opinion of the coaches and talent level in Conference USA, so I know we'll have our hands full and won't have a lot of time to get ready," said McNeill.

ECU will close its 2010 campaign by playing four of its last seven games at home, but the Pirates will see Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium only twice in their first five contests before playing host to the Wolfpack in mid-October.