Ship on the rocks
by staff writer
Game No. 9 Vitals: ECU at Memphis
The numbers aren’t pretty, the
situation is bleek and it is likely to get worse before it gets better.
That’s East Carolina football, 2003.
ECU sank to 1-8 when it
appeared to leave its game in the Liberty Bowl locker room at halftime on
Saturday and Memphis pulled away from a tie at 17 to smite the Pirates
ECU hasn’t been 1-8 since the
1957 team avoided going winless by topping host Presbyterian 6-0 the last
game of the season.
(Editor's note: In practical
terms, the Pirates also started out 1-8 in 1986, but a loss to Temple during
that stretch was ultimately transformed into a win by forfeit because of
NCAA-mandated sanctions on the Owls having to do with an ineligible player.)
ECU has never lost 11 games in
a season but will likely be an underdog in its last three games as it tries
to avoid that scenario. At Duke or North Carolina when such a demise besets
the gridders, the fans simply focus on basketball. That’s never been the
attitude at ECU. Football is the flagship program.
This year the flagship has
taken a broadside hit at the water line.
The schedule says next week is
homecoming, an occasion that has produced a 40-8 record for the Pirates
since 1955. But this year the opponent is South Florida, which has probably
snatched the spot in the Big East Conference that had ECU’s name on it. They
say there’s no point in comparing scores in football but the Bulls just
topped a Cincinnati team that manhandled the Pirates 40-3 earlier this year.
There may be some dandy excuses
when tickets for the South Florida game are offered this week.
“Uh, I’ve got to rake the
“They’re showing Gilligan’s
Island all weekend on TV Land. Wouldn’t want to miss that.”
“I need to spend some quality
time with my mother-in-law.”
I guess I’m too negative. The
company line is that the players are working hard and improving. The coaches
are doing a great job of teaching and motivating. Steve Logan detractors say
we’re seeing the results of diminished recruiting productivity in recent
There were some bright spots
Saturday. Damarcus Fox had a kickoff return for a touchdown. Former walk-on
Richard Hourigan had seven catches for 77 yards. James Pinkney threw his
first touchdown pass and went 9 of 16 for 109 yards after Desmond Robinson
struggled and then was injured.
The Pirates fans among the
crowd announced at 40,000-plus probably enjoyed some of the local
entertainment opportunities — Beale Street, ribs at the Rendezvous, dog
racing in Arkansas, gambling in Tunica County, Mississippi. They probably
even enjoyed the game — for the first half.
Paul Troth, who is within 12
yards of moving into eighth on the ECU career passing yardage list and needs
one completion to move into seventh place, knows where he stands — third on
the depth chart and getting keel-hauled into oblivion. Troth played when ECU
went 4-8 last season. Funny, but 4-8 is looking better all the time.
Memphis had too many sacks on
Saturday. The Pirates ran for too few yards. ECU took a step backward in the
turnover department as well, committing three. It’s tough for any team to
play with freshman cornerbacks but ECU has become a land of opportunity for
ambitious high school players. Hopefully, John Thompson and staff will pluck
some blue chippers.
College football is cyclical.
ECU has hit a down cycle but it happens, even to the nationally-prominent.
How about Miami? The Hurricanes were beat worse than the Pirates on
Saturday. It’s all in the perspective, I suppose.
A new practice week is ahead
and homecoming has always been special at ECU. The loyal fans will be there,
God bless ’em. Maybe the Pirates will respond appropriately.
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This page updated:
02/23/2007 12:40:15 AM.