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Bailey's Take on the Pirates

From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, October 2, 2001

By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9


Ties to Former Pirates Just the Tip of
the Iceberg in ECU-UNC Showdown


I don’t care what anybody at East Carolina says, this will not be a normal game week for the Pirates.

The ECU-North Carolina game holds very special meaning for many on the Pirate sideline. Most of the in-state Pirate recruits also looked at UNC before deciding on East Carolina.

Most of this team also played under the likes of UNC assistant coaches Dave Huxtable and James Webster when they were members of Pirate coach Steve Logan's staff.

ALL of the players, except for the true freshmen on the squad, sweated blood for then-ECU-strength-coach Jeff Connors.

Last year, Jeff Kerr was the heart and soul of the Pirate defense. Now, Kerr is an assistant at UNC under Coach Connors.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg in this match-up.

Former Coaches Getting Set for Emotional Week

With the Pirates in Syracuse, and with our budget restraints at the “unofficial” station of the Pirates, I decided to take in this past weekend’s State-Carolina match-up in lieu of the ECU-Syracuse game. Imagine the looks I got when I told the rest of the media from around the state that I was there to “see the preliminary.”

I told them the main event would be next week, when the Pirates locked horns with North Carolina.

Before the game, I had a chance to visit with Coach Webster. Webster asked about several of the players, and he said things were going well.

“The Florida State win was big,” he told me. “But now, the fans want us to win again, and it will be tough over the next couple of weeks.”

I didn’t see Coach Connors until after the game. When I shook his hand, I reminded him of something he told me just before he left Greenville.

“I thought you said that you’d never wear that light blue,” I said jokingly. We talked briefly, and he explained that he wouldn’t be able to comment this week about playing the Pirates.

I could tell, though, that this will be an emotional game for him, as well.

When Connors left Greenville, some jilted Pirate fans were livid. Connors and I were pretty good friends when he was in town. His decision to leave wasn’t easy, but it was probably the only decision that made sense.

But did allowing Connors to get away make sense for ECU?  I haven't seen the Pirates win a game in the fourth quarter this season.

I also talked briefly with Jeff Kerr. I tried to get an interview with him for television, but you could tell that he was given a ‘gag order’ as well. Kerr told me that he loved his days with ECU, and he wanted nothing but great things for Coach Steve Logan and the Pirates.

He also told me that the opportunity in front of him was tremendous, and that he hopes to make everyone at East Carolina proud of him in the future.

Carolina Thoughts

Despite what you read on Internet message boards, I have NEVER been a Carolina fan in any sport. In fact, many of my friends get a kick out of it when someone writes that I am a “Carolina Wanna-Be” or “TRUE BLUE”.

I grew up as just the opposite. I HATED North Carolina’s athletic teams, because I was a fan of Virginia.

That’s probably one of the reasons that I fit in in Greenville, because I understood some of the emotions involved. I’m better now, because I respect the Tar Heels on a professional basis.

I have many friends that love the Tar Heels. I can handle them. It’s the ones that come out of the woodwork that bother me. Those fans are alive and well after wins over North Carolina State and Florida State.

I am a fan, just like everybody else.  A fan that would like nothing more then to see the Pirates roll up a big win over UNC this weekend in Chapel Hill.

New Entrance Desperately Needed

During this three-game road trip, I surely hope somebody figures out a better way for this East Carolina football team to run on the field at the beginning of the game.

There are high school teams that do a better job. In fact, I showed Tarboro at home this past Friday night, and mentioned this exact thought.

How come most major colleges make it a great production for a team’s entrance, while East Carolina gets some John Boy off the farm to hold a can of smoke so the team can run through it?

As bad as Duke is, at least the Blue Devils have an inflatable tunnel to run through.

East Carolina would be better off to get the cheerleaders to make a homemade banner to run through.

Pirate fans may not want to hear this, but North Carolina State’s entrance was really first-class.

The scoreboard featured a video of an animated football player, and as his hand touched the football, his body started to change into that of a wolf. The animation was awesome; a great looking wolf as compared to the Pirate, which looks like one of those weebles. (Remember the toy, weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.)

The song “Bodies” by Drowning Pool blared over the loudspeakers. That’s the song made famous by some of the wrestling pay-per-view events. The video featured great hits, sensational catches, etc…

The Pack then came into the stadium through a thick fog of smoke. They then ran through all kinds of fireworks and into a stadium that was rocking and rolling. By the time the Wolfpack ran onto the field, the fans were in frenzy.

It was a great atmosphere, one that we can only hope comes to East Carolina some day. It was also well coordinated, so that the team ran out on the field when they were SUPPOSED to.

How hard is that to coordinate? To spend millions on a scoreboard, and then run a 10-dollar video is no way to introduce your football team!

So You Think This Job is Easy

I’ll admit that I have a great job. It’s especially fun when the Pirates win, because then everyone in town is in a good mood, desperate for as much information on the Pirates as you can give them.

My Dad always said that if every day were a good one, you wouldn’t know the difference.

Saturday was that kind of day for me. Brian Meador and I were making good time on our trip to Raleigh, when the back left tire on our Live Truck exploded.

Meador did a great job just to keep the truck in a straight line after losing a tire at 70 miles per hour. Somehow, it only took us only about 30 minutes to change the big tire, and we were back on our way.

We got into all kinds of traffic, but finally got into the stadium just before kickoff.

Then, after the game, things got really weird. After our interviews, we started to head back to the truck when I realized that our blue ‘fanny pack’ bag with tapes and batteries was missing.

After a half-hour search, a security guard told us the bag had been confiscated, because it was deemed mysterious.

The bag was sitting about ten feet from the goal posts when we went in for the interviews. I knew security was tight, but had no idea that my bag of tapes and batteries would cause such a problem.

According to security, a bomb-sniffing dog was called out, and then the bag was searched. Despite the fact that two of the tapes were identified with “WNCT” on them, the bag was still taken.

It took us about an hour to get the bag back, and rush back to Greenville.

Dad said there might be days like this. At least the spare tire held on the way home.

Here’s hoping that I’m writing about a Pirate win over the ‘Heels this time next week!

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02/23/2007 01:19:34 AM

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