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The Bradsher Beat
Friday, August 24, 2007

By Bethany Bradsher

High seas spectacle on the way

By Bethany Bradsher
All rights reserved.

East Carolina Assistant AD Scott Wetherbee can’t help but feel a little sorry for the other marketing directors, the ones at universities with mascots like Bobcats, or Eagles, or Bears.

Occasionally one such colleague will call Wetherbee and ask for some tips on how to create a mood in their home football stadium that rivals the ambience at Dowdy-Ficklen. And Wetherbee has to admit that part of the magic is the ECU mascot, which gives marketing departments a treasure chest of material.

This country has a fascination with pirates that stretches back for decades and has been fanned by Johnny Depp’s Hollywood interpretation. So as Wetherbee and his department have sought to enhance the already-lively atmosphere within the stadium, the culture has handed them plenty of material.

Florida State has Chief Osceola throwing a flaming spear, the University of Colorado actually runs a buffalo around the field before kickoff and Clemson players touch Howard’s Rock and storm down the hill. But Wetherbee and others who have worked on these plans hope that the East Carolina home field traditions will be among the most memorable in the nation.

“There are so many new wrinkles that you don’t want to not be in your seat 15 minutes before kickoff,” Wetherbee said. “People have got to be there early, and we’re going to make it worth their while.”

The fans that arrive with time to spare will first notice the big Pirate ship in the end zone. Designed to look like the front of an actual Pirate vessel, the ship will feature two ramps that will lower down for the Pirate players to run out. Other than the ship and the absence of the purple tunnel, the entrance will look and sound the same – complete with the siren and purple smoke.

“That’s what our fans like, and we’re not going to mess with what they like,” Wetherbee said.

Wetherbee and others have also promised that the player entrance will contain a few surprises, and he seems to be relishing the preseason speculation that has gripped fans on Internet message boards and in other Pirate Nation gathering spots.

“There are some things that we don’t want to let out of the bag yet,” Wetherbee said. “In the meantime, it’s kind of fun to let the other rumors fly. We only want to add little pieces. We don’t want to detract or make it a circus.”

Once the Pirates walk the gangplanks and prepare for kickoff, the other major changes come Game Day will involve Pirate flags. Fans have long expressed a desire for the Jolly Roger to play a larger role, and Wetherbee and his people are doing them one better with the new No Quarter flag.

First, the Jolly Roger will be raised at the beginning of the game as the song “Hoist the Colors” from “Pirates of the Caribbean 3” blasts throughout the stadium. That flag will fly until the end of the third quarter, when the Pirates will serve notice of their fourth-quarter determination with a new flag.

“If pirates come up on another ship and raise their battle flag they’re saying, we want to go to battle with you,’” Wetherbee said. “Then the pirates would raise a blood red flag, that said, ‘We’re not giving it up, we’re ready to give it our all, and we’re raising this no quarter flag.’”

As “Welcome to the Jungle” plays, the No Quarter flag will be raised. It’s a blood-red flag (considerably darker than Wolfpack red, Wetherbee reassured) with the ECU “Jolly Roger” logo emblazoned on it. Fans are then encouraged to either raise a fist or cross their forearms to signify the skull and crossbones.

“We want to start a real good tradition before the fourth quarter to get the teams hyped up,” Wetherbee said. “We’re not going to give any mercy to the opposing team and we’re going to fight to the end.”

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08/24/2007 01:49:57 AM

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