College Football in the Carolinas
from the East
Monday, December 3, 2001
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer
Pirates' Bowl Streak Tops
Deacs, Clemson Home for the Holidays
It’s an interesting time of the year in college football. Bowl matchups
are taking shape and head coaching vacancies — none projected in the
Carolinas — are a source of rampant speculation.
Six out of the seven Division I-A teams in the Carolinas earned bowl
eligibility and four of those will be making postseason trips.
South Carolina is waiting to learn its destination, possibly the Citrus
Bowl on Jan. 1 to play Michigan. N.C. State nabbed a Tangerine Bowl berth
opposite Pittsburgh on Dec. 20. North Carolina accepted an offer from the
Peach Bowl on Dec. 31 in Atlanta to play a Southeastern Conference team and
East Carolina is headed to Mobile, Ala. to meet Marshall in the GMAC Bowl on
ECU can thank — in addition to Alabama for beating Southern Miss — it's
supportive fan base for making a postseason excursion a reality for the
third straight year. No other program in the Carolinas has been bowling
three years in a row.
Wake Forest and Clemson are bowl eligible but appear to be home for the
holidays. Duke finished 0-11, as predicted, but Coach Carl Franks will be
given more time to work on the rebuilding job.
Here’s how the State Line Power Rankings© shake out going into the bowl
Power Rankings© 
1. South Carolina ... 8-3 represents some nice
work by Lou Holtz.
2. N.C. State ... Beat out Clemson for ACC’s last
available bowl slot.
3. Wake Forest ... 4-1 against in-state teams but
no place to go.
4. East Carolina ... Pirates know their way around
5. North Carolina ... A 19-10 win over SMU was
6. Clemson ... Saved the last Dantz for Duke.
7. Duke ... Losing streak at 23.
Looking at the teams individually:
Not since 1963, ’64, and ’65 have the Pirates been to three consecutive
bowl games. That was in the era of Coach Clarence Stasavich when the offense
was the single wing.
The Pirates beat Northeastern 27-6 in the Eastern Bowl in Allentown, Pa.
in 1963. They edged Massachusetts 14-13 in the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando in
1964 and blasted Maine 31-0 in a return to the Tangerine in 1965.
Of course, the Pirates were a small college team back then. ECU was
deserving of making a third straight bowl trip in 1996 but sat at home with
an 8-3 record that included wins over Miami, South Carolina and N.C. State.
“It was heartbreaking,” said Pirates coach Steve Logan. “But I knew this
day was coming when we’d be 6-5 and go to a bowl. They say those things even
out and in this case they did. It’s a tribute to our fans and a compliment
to Conference USA. We’re part of the system now. Back then, we weren’t.”
It will also be a great opportunity for Logan and staff to develop some
of the younger players with extra practice time prior to the bowl. That’s a
big plus for a program that must replace David Garrard at quarterback,
Leonard Henry at running back and Pernell Griffin at inside linebacker.
The seniors are intent on going out as winners. Winning is something
they’ve done 29 times over the last four years. In the days following a
28-21 loss to Southern Miss, they weren’t sure that opportunity would be
“Not knowing was really frustrating, but at least we got a break from
practice” said Griffin, C-USA’s career tackling leader, with a laugh of the
days between the loss to the Golden Eagles and the visit of GMAC bowl
official Murray Cape to Greenville to extend the bid last Friday.
“We heard rumors about this and that,” said Henry, who led C-USA in
rushing this season with 1,432 yards. “We were hoping and praying that we
would get a second opportunity.”
Garrard, ECU’s career passing leader, said team members weren’t thrilled
with the trip to Mobile in 1999, but this year will be different.
“We were 9-2 that year and thought we should have been in a bigger bowl,”
Garrard said. “But we definitely want to be there this time — just to play
another team. The seniors didn’t want their careers to end up with the game
last Friday. We actually want to go there now.”
Henry said the Pirates know their way around the Gulf Coast town.
“We know the atmosphere of the city,” he said. “We know where to go and
where not to go. That’s a little advantage and we know when it’s time to
concentrate on the football game.”
Former LSU basketball coach Dale Brown, NFL Hall of Fame tight end Mike
Ditka and Florida State coach Bobby Bowden will be appearing during bowl
week. Mobile, which originated the Mardi Gras celebration that subsequently
became associated with New Orleans, also will have a Mardi Gras parade in
conjunction with the bowl game.
Marshall displayed an ECU trait in its 41-36 loss to Toledo for the MAC
title on Friday night. As the Pirates have done lately, the Thundering Herd
built a 23-0 lead only to see it dwindle.
The Herd (10-2) features quarterback Byron Leftwich, the MAC offensive
player of the year and linebacker Max Yates, the MAC defensive player of the
Marshall will likely take a large number of fans. ECU needs to do the
same — to cheer for the team, to help with the expense of the bowl trip and
to keep the program attractive to bowl scouts and future recruits.
The last time ECU played Marshall was in 1978 and a linebacker named Mike
Hamrick played for the Herd. ECU won, 45-0 at Ficklen Stadium.
“ECU had guys like Leander Green, Eddie Hicks, Anthony Collins and
Theodore Sutton,” Hamrick said. “All of those guys ran 4.2s (seconds for 40
yards). I ran a 6.2.”
The series, which ECU leads 4-1, was marred by a terrible tragedy
following ECU’s 17-14 win in 1970. One of the Marshall planes crashed on the
return trip in West Virginia killing numerous players and coaches.
Hamrick said funds have been donated to recognize the Marshall team of
1970 with a display in ECU’s new strength and conditioning facility, which
is expected to open next month after some construction delays.
ECU begins bowl workouts on Dec. 6 and will travel to Mobile on Dec. 14.
The Gamecocks returned to the practice field on Friday with underclassmen
working out for two hours in a fundamentals-oriented sessions similar to
“We wanted to work with our younger players and really begin to gear them
for next season,” said Coach Lou Holtz, who planned a similar practice for
Holtz probably won’t have to worry about replacing tailback Derek Watson
immediately. There has been speculation that Watson would forego his senior
season to go to the NFL.
“I fully expect Derek to return,” Holtz said.
Watson said the same thing.
“There are a lot of things I need to improve upon and I’ve pretty much
decided I’m coming back for my senior year,” he said.
But there may be some departures from the coaching staff. Defensive
coordinator Charlie Strong interviewed last week for the Vanderbilt job and
Kansas is also interested in him.
Lou’s son, Skip, USC’s offensive coordinator, is a candidate for the SMU
job. Gamecocks running backs coach Buddy Pough has also drawn interest as a
head coaching possibility, according to Lou.
The full squad will assemble to begin focusing on bowl preparation next
Sunday at noon.
Linebacker Jeremiah Garrison has a pulled hamstring. Reserve quarterback
Dondrial Perkins has cuts and bruises from a motorcycle mishap over the
Thanksgiving holidays, and Holtz is still not sure about the availability of
star linebacker Kalimba Edwards, who sprained a knee against Florida.
Holtz said USC’s success is translating on the national level in
The Wolfpack expected the worst — to be left out of the bowl scene — but
the Tangerine committee voted State ahead of Clemson on Sunday afternoon.
“This is a great opportunity for our players, our fans and for everyone
associated with North Carolina State University,” said Pack coach Chuck
Amato. “Our team is very excited about having the chance to complete what
has been a great season at a great bowl.”
State (7-4) will play Pittsburgh, which became bowl eligible at 6-5 with
a 24-6 win over visiting UAB on Saturday.
It’s easier for the Deacons to make a case for being the mythical state
champions than it was to catch the interest of a bowl committee. Wake had
wins over East Carolina, Appalachian State, Duke and North Carolina. Its
only in-state loss was to N.C. State, 17-14.
State pride aside, Jim Grobe proved to be a solid hire and provides some
optimism among Deacons followers for 2002 — which is a contrast. There has
been precious little reason for Wake fans to look forward to football season
over the years.
Guard Michael Collins became Wake’s first All ACC first team selection on
offense since 1992.
Give the Tar Heels credit for regrouping from an 0-3 start under
first-year head coach John Bunting and finishing 7-5 with a trip on tap to
the Peach Bowl.
“We were 0-3 and we always felt like we could win the next one,” said
senior quarterback Ronald Curry. “The guys stuck together and good things
UNC will be making its first bowl trip since 1998.
“We’re very proud of this football team and I’m very proud of my staff,”
Bunting said. “They did a tremendous job of holding this football together
for a long, long time.
"... We tried to make this team better by playing a tough schedule and by
making a lot of demands on them in spring ball. We’re really proud of the
efforts of Jeff Connors (strength coach) and his staff.
“... We’re very proud to be going to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.”
After a 59-31 win over Duke on Saturday, in which Clemson quarterback
Woodrow Dantzler accounted for five touchdowns and became the first player
in the NCAA to run for 1,000 yards and pass for 2,000 in a season, the
Tigers were an even or better shot at getting the Tangerine Bowl berth that
“Clemson has shown a great history of traveling, as far as bowl
participation is concerned,” said Tigers coach Tommy Bowden after his team
improved to 6-5. “It shows you how times have changed, when you are bowl
eligible and you are sitting there fighting. It used to be, a few years ago,
that if you were bowl eligible, you could pretty much pick where you wanted
Carl Franks is 3-30 in three years as coach at his alma mater. The
23-game losing streak is the longest in the nation currently among Division
I-A teams and is tied with Northern Illinois for seventh longest of
all-time. That’s a heckuva thing to have hanging over you during spring
Duke actually led the Tigers 7-0 . A 69-yard pass from D. Bryant to Ben
Erdeljac set up a 9-yard scoring toss to Khary Sharpe. But Clemson scored 31
points in the next 15 minutes and the suspense was gone.
Bryant and running back Chris Douglas return. Tight end Mike Hart, who
missed the Clemson game following ankle surgery, closed his career with
catches in 22 straight games and recognition on the All ACC first team.
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