College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Monday, October 13, 2003
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
A letdown 10 years in the
What should East Carolina fans have expected on Saturday?
Something different from North Carolina’s 28-17 win? Should they have
expected victory from a team that didn’t have a touchdown pass and had
allowed 90 points off of turnovers in its 0-5 start?
Halfway through the in-state showdown, the Pirates had
given their supporters among a crowd of 44,040 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium
reason to believe the outcome might be favorable for bragging rights over
the next seven years — until the next time these programs meet in 2010.
ECU seemed to be stepping up to the significance of the
occasion with a 10-7 lead as the teams filed off of Bagwell Field for the
halftime break. But something must have happened at the half.
Maybe the Tar Heels remembered that they were the team
from a Bowl Championship Series conference. Maybe they realized that the
recruiting services tell us that they sign better talent every year. Someone
may have reminded them that their athletics budget is more than double
ECU’s. Perhaps UNC was just more determined to shed its winless status.
Meanwhile, within the Murphy Center, what happened to the
Pirates? They had walked the walk and were talking the talk — and backing it
up in the first 30 minutes. Marvin Townes had run for 85 yards and that
didn’t include a 74-yard gallop called back for holding.
“I told everybody to play like it was still 0-0,” said ECU
quarterback Desmond Robinson of his comments at the half.
Robinson had his best game despite indications that he
might be replaced by James Pinkney if he struggled again. He was 13 for 17
for 125 yards with two touchdowns. But Robinson didn’t really have an
explanation for what happened to ECU in the second half.
“We didn’t get it done,” he said. “ ... We’ve got to go
back to the drawing board.”
ECU’s drawing board has been getting a lot of use this
“I just told this team that I’m proud of them,” said
first-year ECU coach John Thompson in the aftermath of the Pirates’
disappointing second half on UNC’s first visit to Greenville. “They’re
selling out, playing hard, but we keep making the same mistakes.”
Since 1993, ECU fans had been looking forward to UNC’s first visit to
Greenville. In that year, Thompson was defensive coordinator at Southern
Miss and pressure from the N.C. legislature forged the matchup between the
Pirates and the Tar Heels.
staff members Dave Huxtable, Jim Webster, Jim Fleming and Jeff Connors — now
at UNC — knew what staging the battle east of I-95 meant. The Tar Heels came out of the locker
room for the second half like they knew what it meant, too.
Yes, ECU fans have been looking forward to this game for
10 years, but who could blame them for wanting to forget about it as quickly
I haven’t heard from Steve Logan since last Dec. 6 but
it’s funny how some axioms from the former ECU coach come to mind. You can
decide their relevance.
“We’ve made a point not to lose two games in a row because
once it starts heading in the other direction, it’s hard to turn around.”
“Virginia Tech stuck with Frank Beamer during some lean
times and look what they’ve got. There’s great value to coaching
“Beamer will tell you when they got in the Big East was
when their program took off. He could get into living rooms (see recruits)
he hadn’t been able to get into before.”
“A division has been created in college football between
the conferences in the BCS and those that aren’t — and the kids (recruits)
have figured it out.”
“He came to our summer camp and we offered him a
scholarship. We think we can make a player out of him.”
“There’s always an adjustment period with a new
quarterback. You get them off the field and everything has been happening so
fast they can’t really tell you what they’re seeing. When everything starts
slowing down for them is when your offense takes off.”
“There’s nothing wrong that a win won’t cure.”
The officiating crew included Rosie Amato, the brother of
N.C. State coach Chuck Amato, at umpire. Coach Thompson minimized the impact
of Townes’ first-half scoring run that was called back for holding.
“We went down and got a field goal out of that drive,” he
said. “We were moving the football and that happened. When we get that
fumble (recovered by Erode Jean in the third quarter), we probably did pitch
it forward. I thought the referee (Jack Childress) did a great job of
officiating the game. The referee did.”
Thompson didn’t say anything about the rest of the crew.
Logan used to credit the importance of Connors’
conditioning program for ECU’s late-game success. UNC outscored the Pirates
21-7 in the second half and Thompson was asked if conditioning was a factor.
“I don’t think conditioning was a factor in the game,” he
said. “They executed. We made mistakes. We made mistakes and they ran the
ball better than we did in the second half. They executed and we had some
drive-killing penalties. I think that was the biggest deal.”
On the rivalry and team attitude
“Both teams played their heart out,” Thompson said. “I
know our team did. I’m proud of our football team. I’m disappointed. I hurt
for them. I want to help them more. I’ve got to find a way to help ’em more.
I hurt for this football team because they’re trying. They’re sticking
together. They’re listening. They’re doing everything we ask them to do.
They just deserve some success and we’re going to find a way to do it.”
Moore on the sideline episode
The intensity of the game was shown in a shoving incident
on the UNC sideline after ECU’s Travis Heath ran Tar Heels tailback Willie
Parker out of bounds in the first quarter. ECU inside linebacker Chris
Moore, who led the Pirates with 10 tackles, gave his account:
“I went in to help Travis up and somebody pushed me and
that’s when it started,” Moore said. “They don’t like us and we don’t like
them so stuff like that is going to happen. It’s war.”
Late breaking ... ACC annexes BC
The ACC voted Sunday to invite Boston College as its 12th
member, which could possibly have beneficial repercussions for East
Carolina. BC’s exit from the Big East
could open a slot for the Pirates
in the Big East, although the New York Post has reported that the Big East
also has informally discussed adding Army and Navy as football-only members.
It has generally been reported that the Big East is
planning to add Louisville and Cincinnati from Conference USA. If BC’s
departure opens up another slot, the Pirates and South Florida may be the
primary candidates to fill it. Having 44,040 fans for a matchup of winless
teams on Saturday is a feather in ECU’s cap.
C-USA also could be subjected to raids of its southwestern
teams by the WAC and of non-football members Charlotte and Saint Louis by
the Atlantic 10. C-USA has also discussed adding teams from among a group
that includes Rice, Southern Methodist, Central Florida, Tulsa and Marshall
to fill any vacancies that might be created in the changing landscape of
C-USA presidents and chancellors are scheduled to meet on
The Eagles will join the ACC for the 2004-05 academic year
if all the pending formalities are completed. That will presumably enable
division play and a profitable championship game next football season.
STATELINE POWER RANKINGS©
Here’s how the Division I-A teams in the Carolinas stack up:
South Carolina (4-2, 1-2 SEC) ...
Gamecocks get a Thursday night win over Kentucky.
Clemson (4-2, 2-1 ACC) ... Tigers
regroup for a 30-27 overtime victory against Virginia.
N.C. State (4-3, 1-2 ACC...
Wolfpack beats UConn with a late interception return.
Wake Forest (3-3, 1-2 ACC) ...
Deacons can’t get running game going against Georgia Tech.
Duke (2-4, 0-3 ACC) ... Blue Devils
lose another ACC contest, 33-20 at Maryland.
North Carolina (1-5, 0-3 ACC) ...
Tar Heels get it going in second half at ECU.
East Carolina (0-6, 0-2 C-USA) ...
Pirates take on another winless team at Army.
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02/23/2007 12:41:30 AM