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Don't miss Al Myatt's profile of new ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in the 2004 Bonesville Magazine.

View from the East
Friday, September 24, 2004

By Al Myatt

Exiled skipper's ghost hovering over harbor?

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Bonesville Magazine

• PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact

• Recruit Profiles
• Rookie Books
• Tracking the Classes
• Florida Pipeline
• NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again


• STEVE BALLARD: New Leader Takes Charge

• SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door

• KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams

• BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate




The East Carolina Red Sox? Something from the X-(and O) Files? Truth, as they say, is stranger than fiction, and ECU's performance in its own house of late has been unprecedented.

The Pirates simply have never been this bad at home for this long.

The lopsided rivalry of the Yankees and Red Sox can't be long contemplated before someone interjects the curse of The Bambino.

Legend has it that when Boston traded Babe Ruth to the Bronx Bombers after winning their last World Series in 1917, the storied slugger was so alienated by the move that he cast a perpetual bad vibe toward the Fenway Park inhabitants.

Some Boston fans, who saw a great chance to end the jinx foiled by a soft grounder that rolled through the legs of Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner at a crucial juncture of Game Six in the 1986 World Series, have even tried to appease Ruth's specter with various offerings at his grave site.

Larger than life in his prime, Ruth and his legacy have only been enhanced by the Yankees' successes and the mostly concurrent misfortunes of the Bosox through the ages of baseball.

I don't personally believe in hexes, but a "Steve Logan whammy" would conveniently explain the present state of East Carolina's football fortunes.

Logan, of course, was dismissed the morning after Cincinnati's last football trip to Greenville. ECU's winningest coach in history was handed his walking papers on Dec. 7, 2002, a day that lives in infamy to many of the Pirate faithful.

Ghost of Logan?

ECU had just been topped 42-26 by the Bearcats and a sophomore quarterback named Gino Guidugli in a televised Friday night game during the high school playoffs that has its own not-so-revered place in ECU lore.

Guidugli, now a senior, and the Bearcats are back at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday night in the Conference USA opener for both clubs.

The Pirates, of course, no longer use the north sideline that served as home to Logan's teams. But it's funny — strange funny, the teams on that sideline haven't lost since Logan left the ECU scene. The program's subsequent 1-13 tailspin has included a Dowdy-Ficklen record eight straight losses at home.

(That's not counting a junior varsity win over Fork Union last season.)

ECU had never gone an entire season in Dowdy-Ficklen since the stadium's dedication (as Ficklen Stadium in 1963) without winning at least one home game in a year until the Pirates were 0-6 on their own turf last season. It's enough to make you wonder about that phantom bounce-pass touchdown in overtime of the South Florida game last year.

If you believe in the curse of the Bambino, it isn't hard to see the parallels between the plight of the Red Sox and that of the Pirates. Ruth and Logan, no doubt, both felt betrayed by their former teams.

What can ECU do about the Logan whammy, if it indeed exists? Time and effort should eventually bring the Pirate ship out of its current dire straits. Recruiting and player development are keys to the turnaround ECU fans are anxious to see.

And current decision makers could perhaps use a bit of the gambler that used to characterize Logan. Is there any doubt about what his Pirates would have done on fourth-and-9 with a 2-touchdown deficit and seven minutes left in the game two weeks ago? They wouldn't likely have lined up for a field goal.

Logan has kept a very low, virtually non-existent profile, over the last two years in regard to the ECU program that he once directed. But the shadow of the slight figure that used to crouch down at the extreme ends of that north sideline, engrossed in conversation on his headphones, has only lengthened with the current program's struggles.

Maybe the answer for the Pirates doesn't lie in recruiting junior college talent from far-flung locales, an improved practice facility or changing strength coaches. Maybe ECU needs some four-leaf clovers in the end zones, or to rub the rabbit feet of freshman running back Chris Johnson.

Or maybe, simply, a prayer of deliverance.


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02/23/2007 12:46:32 AM

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