GREENVILLE — Steve Logan was back in
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday for the first time since
a 42-26 East Carolina loss to Cincinnati
on Friday night, Dec. 6, 2002.
dismissed as Pirates head coach by former
athletic director Mike Hamrick the following morning
after a 4-8 season had brought his career record to 69-58.
The coach with the most football wins
in ECU history was flanked by the son of
Carter Suggs, the late world class sprinter for
the Pirates, and David Garrard, who contributed
significantly as quarterback from 1998 to 2001 to many of those 69
victories during Logan's ECU career.
Logan stood on the turf of Bagwell
Field once again. He waved to Pirate Nation and acknowledged the love.
Then he returned to his place in line and gave his former quarterback a
pat on the back.
Garrard's Pirate resume included a
27-23 win over Miami of Florida in Raleigh and a 23-6 triumph over N.C.
State in Greenville in 1999.
The competitor in Garrard came out
recently as he came out of retirement to join the New York Jets despite
some knee problems. A Jets open date allowed him to get back to his ECU
Also recognized was Harold Randolph,
a linebacker from 1975 to 1977, who helped the Pirates transition to the
major college level from the Southern Conference.
The crowd greeted all heartily and
that was good to see, especially the cheers for Logan, who was forced
out on bitter terms because of an unwieldy relationship with the AD.
The Friday night game itself, Logan's
last at ECU, was a point of contention because of its conflict with the
traditional night for high school football.
Hamrick said he had no choice because
of Conference USA's television contract. For some reason, Hamrick did
not elect to notify Logan in advance of the decision to schedule the
Friday night game opposite the prep playoffs.
In the wake of the controversy over
Friday night dustup and his
subsequent firing of Logan, Hamrick himself
was gone from ECU before the
following season arrived.
A lot of water has gone down the
river since then.
The healing that Saturday's halftime
ceremony represented was good for the program.
Logan more than deserved that moment
and he handled it like a gracious pro.
Current ECU coach Ruffin McNeill said
he didn't get to talk with the new hall of famers. The schedule demands
of a game weekend don't allow for much socializing, but at least the
Pirates put forth an effort that Logan would appreciate in subduing
"I respect his critique and his
thought process," McNeill said of his coaching colleague. "He's done it
at the highest level. He's a really good football coach and a better
person. I thought the hall of fame induction was well-deserved. I hope
he would be pleased with us."
Shane Carden completed 34 of 50
passes for 384 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran for two scores.
Justin Hardy and Isaiah Jones combined for 18 catches and 203 yards with
The Pirates (7-2, 5-1 Conference USA)
didn't score on their first possession for the first time this season
but more than regrouped to outgain the Golden Hurricane, 505-363.
The homecoming win represented
another step toward ECU's bid for the league championship in its final
season in Conference USA.
Randolph helped ECU win the Southern
Conference in 1976 in the Pirates' last year in that league.
It appears that the East Division
berth in the C-USA title game will come down to ECU's Nov. 29 game at
Ironically perhaps, that's another
Friday game, although it likely will be played early enough to prevent
conflict with the high school playoffs.
The Pirates are seeing the league
title in the big picture. That's why Carden talked about playing better
despite breaking his own school record for touchdown accountability with
"We talk about playing with a
championship nature and we weren't quite there at times tonight," Carden
said. "The score was what it was. The stats are all that and that's
great but I think there's a lot of throws, me personally, that I can
look back on that I should have made that I didn't."
At the same time Carden thought he
made some throws that might have been among his best.
The Pirates are pursuing a goal, and
the win over the Golden Hurricane was a means to achieving an end.
Relatively speaking, ECU appears to
have come a long way since its last meeting with Tulsa. In McNeill's
first game as head coach at ECU in 2010, it took
a Hail Mary pass from Dominique Davis to Justin
Jones as time expired for a 51-49 Pirates win.
When ECU scored on a 100-yard
interception return by DaShaun Amos as the clock ran out Saturday, the
issue had long been decided.
Next up is Alabama-Birmingham and
another set of emotions for Senior Day.
Getting another win is the bottom
line in terms of the program goal, and the players understand that is
what their preparation this week is about.
A game such as the Nov. 23 date at
N.C. State might have been cause to look ahead and circle the calendar
in the Logan era. The program and the fan base have become more focused
on the league race now, even as the Pirates will transition to the
American Athletic Conference after the present school year.
"It's about the next practice now,"
McNeill said last week. "It's about one game at a time, but it's also
about the next half, the next quarter, the next play."
View box score and statistics on ecupirates.com
Read game recap on ecupirates.com
Read game recap on tulsahurricane.com