Insights and Observations
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
By Henry Hinton
diverge for Pirates, Pack
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As the Pirates head into
their regular-season finale against in-state rival N.C. State, it is totally
possible that they have already accomplished more than the so-called experts
thought possible. That will not matter Saturday.
Has this team really
overachieved? Expectations have continued to rise through the season,
particularly during the four-game win streak that ended this past Saturday
in Rice Stadium.
At the beginning of the
season, the national pundits were picking East Carolina to win fewer games
than last season. In fact, national magazine writer Phil Steele said the
Pirates would be better but would not be able to match last year’s win total
of five games due to a much more difficult schedule.
A week ago, an eight-win
season seemed entirely possible. The one-point loss at Rice was costly in
many ways. Not only did it take the Pirates’ destiny out of their own hands,
it also took away the momentum of a seemingly runaway train.
More about their destiny
in a moment.
How the Pirate players
respond to the difficult loss is anyone’s guess. However, it is the job of
Skip Holtz and his staff to make sure the hangover doesn’t last past
Games with N.C. State
have been difficult to get. ECU needs to take advantage of them when they
come. This game has some interesting parallels to the 1999 game with the
Wolfpack in Dowdy-Ficklen, the first one ever played between the two teams
The ECU program was
riding high that year and the ‘Pack was struggling. The 23-6 Pirate victory
was the final nail in the coffin for NCSU Coach Mike O’Cain.
See what I mean?
While N.C. State Director
of Athletics Lee Fowler has said constantly this season that Chuck Amato is
not on the “hot seat,” there are many in Raleigh who would question how that
could be possible.
ESPN commentator Mark May
stated on the air mid-season that Amato was in trouble at N.C. State and
then received a personal phone call from Fowler to set him straight. May
reported the next week that he had received bad information and Fowler had
assured him that Amato would return next season.
For the record, Fowler
has made no public comment on Amato’s status since the Wolfpack’s loss at
Chapel Hill last weekend.
N.C. State officials
warned the media that Amato would take no “speculative” questions at his
press conference on Monday and that if any were asked he would end the
A reporter from the
campus newspaper decided to push the envelope and asked Amato how he felt
about those who thought he should be fired. The head coach then walked away
from the microphone and headed for the door. He did stop and wish everyone a
"Happy Thanksgiving" before his exit. Nice touch.
Does N.C. State have more
talent than the Pirates? There are those who would argue that this game
comes years after the “BCS Divide” started in college football. Then there
are those who argue that the Wolfpack’s talent level is below where it
East Carolina has
everything to play for and — short of trying to save their coach — the Pack
has nothing, other than pride. The Pirates are bowl-eligible but assured of
nothing at this point. A seventh victory should ensure that ECU will fill
one of Conference USA’s bowl spots. A loss in Raleigh could end the season.
Additionally, the Pirates
could still play for the conference title and a chance to go to The Liberty
Holtz joked that he may
wear a green undershirt during this game. That is a reference to the fact
that Pirates will become Marshall fans on Saturday.
A Thundering Herd win
over Southern Miss in Hattiesburg would put ECU in the league’s championship
game next Friday, Dec. 1, against The University of Houston.
Yes, we too are Marshall.
At least for this week.
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This page updated
04/21/08 07:04 PM.