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The Bradsher Beat
Friday, December 15, 2006

By Bethany Bradsher

Bowling by the numbers

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In my newspaper days we used to say that we wanted a bumper sticker that said, ‘Warning: Journalists Doing Math.” I am so right-brained that I have trouble playing Yahtzee because I can’t add up the little dots on the dice quickly enough.

Given that disclaimer about my proficiency with anything numerological, I still can’t resist looking at some of the digits associated with the Pirates’ upcoming bowl.

Let’s start with a special bowl season story problem:

If exactly one-third of Legion Field’s 83,091 seats were filled by Pirate backers wearing purple, how many pizzas would need to be ordered for them from so that each person could eat three slices?

Try that one out on your school-age child during the Christmas break if you wish, but my brain is strained enough that I need to abandon the equations in favor of, simply, the Bowl by the numbers, with a little help from East Carolina assistant athletic director Lee Workman:

  • 550. The average number of tickets that have been sold each day since the Pirates’ bowl bid was announced on November 28. Workman didn’t know the total number of tickets sold at this point, but he estimated that at least 6,000 have already been claimed. Pirate fans have already bought more tickets than they did for any bowl since the Peach Bowl, Workman said, a trend he attributes to excitement over the first bowl bid in five years, a Saturday game and the fact that Birmingham is closer to Greenville than recent bowl sites like Mobile and Houston.

  • 160. The number of rooms that are reserved for the official ECU athletic group at Birmingham’s Wynfrey Hotel. Those rooms will house the players, coaches, staff members, cheerleaders, band members and other officials, but Workman believes that fans have reserved 100 or so more rooms. Out of 325 guest rooms at the Wynfrey, only 40 were available this week.

  • 2. The number of lucky Army ROTC cadets who get to make the trip for one special purpose – to shoot the official Pirate cannon after each touchdown or field goal. The crucial unknown digit in this equation is the number of times Nathan Rimpf and Adam Lewis will do their job on Dec. 23, but a busy cannon against South Florida is undoubtedly at the top of ECU offensive coordinator’s Christmas wish list.

  • 18. The number of meals that Workman and other staff members must coordinate for the Pirate players, three meals a day for the seven days between Saturday, Dec. 16 and bowl day, minus the three special meals that will be provided by bowl organizers. Because school is officially out of session and the players are only on campus because of their football obligations, they will either eat at official team meals or receive per diem money (allowable by the NCAA in such situations) for each meal during the week. In Birmingham, the players will be given at least one catered meal a day, Workman said, made with food portions that are designed to keep 300-pound linemen satisfied.

  • 25. The number of extra hours per week that Workman has worked since before the Pirates’ bowl destination was even announced. Even when there was a chance that ECU would play in the Conference USA championship game in Houston, he was making preliminary plans for that trip. And since the official word came, he has seen very little daylight as he has camped out in his office nailing down bowl details large and small. But, even though meals with his family are the rarest of luxuries right now, Workman is grateful for the added responsibility. Over the course of his 22 years in the Pirate athletic department, he has witnessed the spark that a bowl trip gives a football program. “Its just more momentum for us to create for our athletic program,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to expand our operation in a very positive way.”

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02/23/2007 01:13:31 AM

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