College Sports in the Carolinas
Don't miss Al Myatt's
profile of new ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in the 2004
from the East
Friday, September 24, 2004
By Al Myatt
Exiled skipper's ghost
hovering over harbor?
ORDER ONLINE NOW!
PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact
INSIDE PIRATE FOOTBALL
Tracking the Classes
NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again
HIGH HOPES FOR HOOPS
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
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
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
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.
Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.
Click here to dig into Al Myatt's Bonesville
02/23/2007 12:46:32 AM