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View from the East
Thursday, July 25, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

TV contract resurrects Friday night fight


Dick Knox is the deputy director of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, whose football playoffs will coincide with East Carolinaís home game with Cincinnati on Friday night, Dec. 6.

Conference USA announced on Wednesday that the game with the Bearcats had been moved from its original date of Saturday, Nov. 2, so that it could be televised on ESPN 2.

It was a made-for-television decision. Conference USA signed an 8-year, $80 million deal for football and basketball with ESPN last year.

The date change for the Cincinnati game may also have been related to the shift of another game. Cincy was supposed to play at Louisville on Saturday, Nov. 9, but that matchup has been moved to Thursday, Nov. 7 to be shown on ESPN.

It appears likely in the negotiation process that the Bearcats may have balked at playing at ECU on Nov. 2 and then making a trip to Louisville five days later for another key C-USA matchup. With the ECU game moved, coach Rick Minter at Cincinnati will now have an acceptable amount of time to prepare for both the Cardinals and the Pirates.

ECUís reward for the move is national television exposure but it will not make any friends among the high school football community.

ďI think that it will have ramifications in terms of playoff attendance,Ē Knox said.

The situation has a familiar tone. The Pirates were initially supposed to play Southern Miss in Greenville on Nov. 23 last season, the Friday night after Thanksgiving, but that game was later moved to an 11 a.m. kickoff.

NCHSAA director Charlie Adams, an ECU alumnus and member of the universityís athletic hall of fame, was outspoken in criticizing colleges for playing and televising games on Friday night.

The NCAA had relaxed its policy against the practice prior to last season and efforts by high school associations to have it restored have been unsuccessful.

Hamrick installed a policy against playing games on Friday nights but may not have had much choice in the situation with the Cincinnati game. The league said it was the only window available in the ESPN schedule.

When the league talks about a date change for television, the athletic directorís response has to be one of approval. It takes money to run an athletic program and thatís what a television contract such as C-USAís with ESPN provides.

A free market economy will operate that night. With semifinals scheduled in the four classifications in the NCHSAA playoffs and those classifications scheduled to be subdivided this year, that will be 16 NCHSAA playoff games that night if my math is correct.

Fans can watch the game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, watch it on television or go see a high school playoff game.

Knox said he realized the decision was out of Hamrickís hands. The matter was decided by ESPN officials.

C-USA, ECU and the NCHSAA might as well like it. There isnít much that can be done about it. TV money called that shot.

Media guide released

The 2002 East Carolina football media guide has been released and itís 224 pages within the covers, compared to 208 last year. The cover art is a shot of the Pirates taking the field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium with the purple smoke canisters working full force.

Getting the guide is tangible evidence that another season is at hand. Allow me to share some random facts from this yearís edition:

  • Terry Tilghman has returned to his former duties as recruiting coordinator, a post held recently by Cliff Yoshida, who left ECU to get involved in on-field coaching again at N.C. A&T. ECU wonít have a coach specifically for tight ends this season.
  • Paul Jette is listed as defensive backs coach and Tony Oden will coach the safeties, an adjustment perhaps for a more labor intensive effort in bolstering last seasonís pass defense, which was last in Conference USA.
  • WCZI (93.8 FM) is listed as the flagship station on the Pirate Sports Network. A total of 27 stations are on the network, including two in South Carolina and one in Portsmouth, Va.
  • Greenvilleís population is listed at 60,500 and that of Pitt County is 133,798. Itís 1,281 miles to Houston, ECUís longest regular season trip this season, for a game on Nov. 9. The Pirates will now have an open date before visiting the Cougars.
  • ECU has a 51-48 record in televised games, including 19-19 on national television and 13-13 on the ESPN networks. ECUís first nationally-televised game was a 38-14 win at William & Mary on Nov. 24, 1979.
  • Ever heard of Paul Kaplar? The junior is listed among seven quarterbacks in the 2002 season outlook. Antwane Yelverton has moved to strong safety and Vonta Leach is officially listed as an outside linebacker.
  • ECU was 6-6 last year for its fourth straight non-losing season, the first time that has happened since the program was elevated to major college status in 1978. Steve Loganís ECU teams are 47-7 in games in which they have scored 28 or more points in his 10 seasons as head coach.
  • ECU kicker Kevin Miller has 202 career points. Heís third on the C-USA career list, where the record is 255, and heís fifth on the ECU list, where kicker Jeff Heath is first with 251 points.
  • There are 71 North Carolinians on the ECU roster, including the 13 in-state signees from the 2002 spring class. Florida and Virginia are next with 10 players each. Freshman Sammie Walden from Ansbach, Germany, provides an international flavor.
  • Notable ECU alumni are listed on page 84. I didnít know former U.S. senator Robert Morgan was a Pirate.
  • There have been a total of 4,631,925 fans at 190 ECU home games since 1963. (ECU should reach 5 million sometime late in the 2003 season.)
  • Terry Gallaher had three catches for a school record 218 yards against Appalachian State on Sept. 13, 1975. Jim Bolding had an ECU record 22 interceptions in his career (1973-76). Junior Smith, now running backs coach at Army, is ECUís leading career rusher with 3,745 yards.

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02/23/2007 12:58:37 AM

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