We live in the information age, where
news from around the world is only a left click of the mouse away.
It wouldn't be practical to isolate the
East Carolina football team from the media like jurors in a big court
case, but hopefully the Pirates have their recently-elevated position in
the college football world in proper perspective.
ECU is under a siege of media hype but
regardless of what ESPN and others might say about the games with N.C.
State, Virginia, Southern Miss and Central Florida that stand in the way
of a BCS berth, the Pirates better follow Coach Skip Holtz's directives
and make every effort to go 1-0 at Tulane on Saturday.
Saturday's date at the Louisiana
Superdome is indeed a dangerous proposition.
There's the letdown factor — the
tendency not to perform as well after a major victory. The Pirates
arguably had the biggest win in program history last week, dominating
then-No. 8 West Virginia, 24-3.
It was the highest-ranked opponent ECU
has ever beaten. The fan base celebrated. The national media took
notice. The Pirates jumped to No. 14 in the Associated Press rankings
and No. 20 in the coaches poll.
Sports talk radio has a crush on the
world beaters from Greenville. Hopefully, the Pirates haven't been
It will be hard for ECU to generate the
same degree of focus, motivation and emotion that it had in two wins
thus far over then-No. 17 Virginia Tech and the Mountaineers because the
atmosphere will be greatly subdued in comparison and roles will be
The Pirates are no longer underdogs.
They have been hastily ushered into a penthouse suite reserved for
college football's elite. To pay the rent you simply can't lose to teams
perceived to be lesser opponents.
You can be ushered out just as quickly.
Holtz rolled the tape of last year's
48-7 loss to the Mountaineers during WVU game week and the players
quickly realized they better be at their best in order to avoid utter
embarrassment on national television.
Tape of the Pirates' 35-12 win over
Tulane would hardly have the same effect. Hopefully, the Pirates didn't
celebrate too much, get too cocky or figure they've gotten the tough
games behind them after the victory over the Mountaineers that stunned
much of the college football world.
If they didn't, then there could be a
major bump in the road in the Big Easy.
Another factor is that Tulane may be
better than expected. The Green Wave gave Alabama all it wanted last
Saturday in a 20-6 loss in Tulane's season opener. That's the same Tide
that put a 34-10 whupping on a Clemson team in the Georgia Dome that was
supposed to rule the ACC.
Tulane outgained Alabama 318-172 in
total yardage. Its defense had four sacks and allowed the Tide just one
sustained drive for its lone offensive score. Special teams proved the
Wave's undoing as 'Bama returned a punt for a touchdown and blocked
another punt for a score.
Tulane coach Bob Toledo said, "I really
believe we're gaining confidence. We played physical. We played fast. We
are a much-improved football team."
That couldn't be a clearer warning as
it applies to the Pirates if it was a message from the surgeon general
on a pack of cigarettes.
Toledo, who formerly coached at UCLA,
recounted the Wave's trip to Greenville last season.
"We ended the season with them last
year and I remember going on the field and I believe we only had 53
players," he recalled. "It was the day after Thanksgiving (actually two
days after turkey day, Nov. 24). I looked at their guys running out of
their little Pirate ship over there and they had 130 football players.
"I'll never forget Skip coming up to me
before the game and saying, 'When's the rest of your guys coming out?' I
said, 'This is it, baby. This is all we got.' "
Toledo said he expected ECU to come out
of the gate with two wins.
"They're experienced," he said.
"They're extremely physical. They're very athletic. I just think they're
outstanding. I've said to one person, 'I think they might be better than
Alabama' and the reason I say that is because Alabama is a young
" ... Their quarterback, Pat Pinkney —
you're in for a treat if you watch this football game. He is really
outstanding and very accurate."
Toledo went on to praise ECU's running
backs, the offensive line and the size and physicality of the Pirates'
Tulane has not beaten a ranked team in
26 years and the Pirates provide the Wave that opportunity this weekend.
"We're just going to stay humble and
hungry," Holtz said. "We can't control all of the speculation around us.
If we do, we could throw it all away."
ECU suddenly has some potentially great
things in store this season but it must protect the assets it has
acquired in an impressive 2-0 start as they open Conference USA play.