You know a football rivalry is hot when the athletics directors can't even agree when two schools are supposed to play.
In an e-mail released to the media Wednesday, Terry Holland said East Carolina expects N.C. State to honor a contractual obligation to play five times between now and 2016 unless the schools reach a mutually agreeable alternative schedule.
N.C. State's Lee Fowler said he has a letter dated June18, 2008, indicating Holland's agreement in principle that the schools will play just three times during that period.
Holland acknowledged discussions about moving games, but had a spokesman e-mail media members late Wednesday afternoon after learning of an interview Fowler gave on Raleigh radio station 99.9 The Fan on Wednesday morning.
According to WRAL.com, Fowler said Holland and East Carolina coach Skip Holtz wanted to “back off” from playing so often.
Holland said East Carolina and Holtz want to play N.C. State and North Carolina as often as possible because those games are important to the future of the eastern part of the state economically and otherwise.
“We are therefore totally (sic) committed to playing games against those institutions whenever the opportunity arises for us to play them,” Holland said in his statement.
The contract Holland said is in force calls for games in 2009, 2012 and 2016 in Greenville and 2008, 2010 and 2013 in Raleigh. The 2008 game was played last week, when N.C. State edged East Carolina 30-24 in overtime.
Fowler doesn't question the contract's existence, but said Holland's letter in June confirmed East Carolina's agreement to play only in 2010 and 2016 in Greenville and in 2013 in Raleigh.
In addition, Fowler said, a Web site maintained by ESPN with future scheduling information provided by schools and conferences shows that East Carolina has dates with N.C. State only in 2010, 2013 and 2016.
“Terry and I have been friends for a long time,” Fowler said.
“I'm sure we'll get it worked out. I was surprised at the way it came out of ECU, but I'm sure we'll talk in the near future and resolve the issue.”