View from the East
Thursday, October 30, 2014

By Al Myatt

Al Myatt

Elections every week in college football


American Schedule

Memphis 40, Tulsa 20 (ESPNU)
Cincinnati 38, Tulane 14 (ESPN2)
ECU at Temple, 12 pm (ESPNN)
UCF at UConn, 12 pm (CBSSN)
Houston at USF, 4 pm (ESPNN)
Last Week's AAC Scores >>> ..... | Thursday > ECU 31, UConn 21 (ESPNU) ..... Friday > Cincinnati 34, USF 17 (ESPN2) ..... | Saturday > Memphis 48, SMU 10 (ESPNN) ..... UCF 34, Temple 14 (CBSSN) ..... .....

College Football Playoff Rankings

Released date: Oct. 28, 2014

 1. Mississippi State 7-0
 2. Florida State 7-0
 3. Auburn 6-1
 4. Mississippi 7-1
 5. Oregon 7-1
 6. Alabama 7-1
 7. TCU 6-1
 8. Michigan State 7-1
 9. Kansas State 6-1
10. Notre Dame 6-1
11. Georgia 6-1
12. Arizona 6-1
13. Baylor 6-1
14. Arizona State 6-1
15. Nebraska 7-1
16. Ohio State 6-1
17. Utah 6-1
18. Oklahoma 5-2
19. LSU 7-2
20. West Virginia 6-2
21. Clemson 6-2
22. UCLA 6-2
23. East Carolina 6-1
24. Duke 6-1
25. Louisville 6-2)

Official College Football Playoff Website



Recruiting Class of 2015-16 Verbals

Northern Durham (NC) HS SF Kentrell Barkley (left); Trinity Valley (TX) CC PF Clarence Williams (right): Thumbnail sketches...


Playoff model has fatal flaw

The debate rages on. A team has to win convincingly in order to move up in the polls unless the team plays a higher-ranked opponent, and then any victory will move the needle upward. ... More from Brian Bailey...


Audio: The Brian Bailey Show

The Brian Bailey Show airs on Pirate Radio 1250 on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. Brian's guest this week was ECU outside receivers coach Dave Nichol (right): Replay show...


Audio: Coach Ruff Weekly Presser

ECU coach Ruffin McNeill spoke with the media at his weekly press conference on Monday (courtesy of Pirate Radio 1250; Bonesville file photo): Select clip...




Inside Game Day | Photos... | Post-game Audio...

AAC SCOREBOARD >>> ..... | Thursday > ECU 31, UConn 21 (ESPNU) ..... Friday > Cincinnati 34, USF 17 (ESPN2) ..... | Saturday > Memphis 48, SMU 10 (ESPNN) ..... UCF 34, Temple 14 (CBSSN) ..... .....

How good is ECU?

Al Myatt

GREENVILLE — East Carolina became bowl eligible for the eighth time in the last nine seasons with a 31-21 American Athletic Conference football win over Connecticut at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Thursday night. The Pirates improved to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the American Athletic Conference ... More from Al Myatt...

PURPLE HEART: East Carolina coach and alumnus Ruffin McNeill joins in on the fight song in front of the "Boneyard" in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium after the Pirates' hard-fought victory over American Athletic Conference foe UConn. © [W.A. Myatt photo]

View more pix in W.A. Myatt's photo gallery...

Audio: Ruff Post-game

ECU coach Ruffin McNeill spoke with the press after the Pirates defeated UConn 31-21 Thursday night (recorded by W.A. Myatt; file photo): Select audio clip...


Kevin's Keys to the Game

East Carolina is back in action today after its second bye week. The opening in the schedule came at a perfect time for the Pirates. With just one American Athletic Conference game under its belt, it gave the team the opportunity to get healthy and recharge to make its first run at the American title. ... More from Kevin Monroe...



Bring 'em on strategy proves shrewd

East Carolina has long subscribed to the philosophy of playing anybody, anyplace, anytime on the football field. It’s an approach that was accelerated back in 2005  ... More from Brett Friedlander...



ECU's MIB a blockbuster hit

These East Carolina Pirates simply love playing the role of the “Men in Black.”
Of course it’s not quite Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, but you get the idea. ...
More from Brian Bailey...


Audio: The Brian Bailey Show

The Brian Bailey Show airs on Pirate Radio 1250 on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. Brian's guest this week was ECU hall of famer and three-time Super Bowl champion Robert Jones (right): Replay show...

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

View ECU's Football Schedule

You can't avoid the realization that an election day is approaching. Reminders are everywhere.

Every week in college football has an election day, when voters rate the teams for ranking purposes.

East Carolina was little more than a potential write-in candidate when the first 2014 polls were released but whether the Pirates like it or not, they are now immersed in a campaign.

The campaign trail includes a stop in Philadelphia this week and East Carolina could help itself with a good showing. ECU has the mentality to defeat teams soundly and move up in the polls rather than just win, as in last week's 31-21 victory over Connecticut, which resulted in slight drops in the most recent Associated Press and coaches polls.

I realize that "just win" is significantly understating the effort involved in beating another Football Bowl Subdivision team.

Pirates coach Ruffin McNeill knows how difficult that task is. That's one reason he takes the ratings in stride, pointing out that ECU had actually gone up in the polls earlier this year without playing during a bye week.

The most important college football rankings ever, those that will determine the four teams that will compete in the inaugural Football Bowl Subdivision playoff, began this week. East Carolina was slotted No. 23 by the carefully-picked panel.

McNeill isn't playing the ratings game. The Pirates actually went conservative late in a 70-41 win over North Carolina rather than appear to be running up the score.

McNeill's focus is on steady improvement one rep at a time in one practice at a time and one play at a time in one game at a time. If those efforts produce one-point wins, he's good with that.

The approach is well-founded. Even if it isn't attention grabbing, its results can be. McNeill is realistic. He can't control the polls and if ECU performs in a step by step manner, he figures that the outcomes and everything else associated with college football success will take care of themselves.

The Pirates coordinators, Lincoln Riley on offense and Rick Smith on defense, have expressed views that can produce dominant results.

In an interview with Riley in February before his first spring practice at ECU, he talked about an offense geared to score on every possession. McNeill, Riley and several more members of the staff had just arrived from Texas Tech.

"Maybe the biggest obstacle in getting to where we need to get offensively is the mentality of the guys," Riley said in 2010. "Not saying the mentality was bad before but for what we're asking them to do we need a different mentality. It's gotta be a mentality of wanting to score every single time. When you punt, that word almost makes you sick to your stomach.

"That's the mentality that we progressed and got to at Tech. That's the mentality that you need to be great on offense. You've got to have that mentality and the guys, they understand that. They do. They understand it's not going to be developed overnight, but when you've got everybody on the staff having that type of mentality, and this staff does, then I think that makes it easier to have it translate over to the kids."

Smith said the defense has a simple goal every time it's on the field at ECU's football media day early August.

"We want to get the ball back for the offense as fast as we can," Smith said.

If the offense achieves its goal of scoring every possession and the defense keeps getting the ball back then the Pirates could roll up some one-sided wins.

It's easier said than done but the theoretical goals could produce the kinds of results that will make ECU upwardly mobile among those who cast college football ballots.

The case could be made that ECU's 3-0 record in the American Athletic Conference is a little shinier than it might appear.

ECU beat SMU 45-24 with the Mustangs increasing their offensive potential with a willingness to go for fourth down conversions. Four downs to make 10 yards requires 2.5 yards per play as opposed to 3.3 yards when a team is geared to turn fourth downs over to special teams. It increases the chance of making a first down by 25 percent.

The 28-17 win at South Florida came before an upset-hungry homecoming crowd and marked the return of Bulls' record-setting receiver Andre Davis from an injury. USF also tried to limit ECU's offensive possessions by keeping the clock moving with its running game.

This isn't Conference USA.

Holdover AAC teams such as Connecticut have routinely lined up against some pretty rugged programs in the Big East. The Huskies have faced Louisville, Pitt and Syracuse during the careers of many of the current players. Their big, rangy secondary looked like Virginia Tech.

UConn also has a coach, Bob Diaco, who came from the defensive staff at Notre Dame. He's trying to institute a mindset and style of play that have been effective for the Irish.

Throw in AAC officials, who are penalizing the Pirates at a significantly higher rate than last year, and you have another obstacle to overcome.

The blowout wins of 2013 that came against Southern Miss (55-14), Tulsa (58-24) and UAB (63-14) have not appeared on ECU's AAC resume to date. Those wins came after the Pirates had lost 36-33 in triple overtime at Tulane and ECU responded with a vengeance.

The program may still be motivated by a loss at Marshall last season that denied the Pirates a shot at the C-USA championship.

It appears that the current team is focused on atonement with an AAC title.

ECU has been strong in the latter stages of its league wins, when conditioning supervised by Jeff Connors can enhance the Pirates' abilities relative to those of a foe that isn't as fit or well-built.

The factor du jour in Saturday's noon game at Temple may be the weather. Cooler temperatures are in the forecast and rain is a possibility.

"We'll have to make sure we have dry footballs for Shane (Carden, ECU quarterback)," McNeill said.

How well the Pirates execute on a play by play basis will determine if ECU can get to 4-0 in its new league. If that happens, how efficiently the Pirates perform will figure into how the outcome is perceived by the viewers on ESPN News, particularly those on the playoff committee. Their rankings eventually will impact whether ECU could play in a higher-tier bowl.

It's election time every week. That's why Marshall recently enlisted the services of a public relations firm to present its football aspirations in the best possible light.

McNeill is still looking for more consistency. The main thing is to win but the Pirates are in a position where style points matter, too.

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11/01/2014 03:34 AM