Take on Conference USA
From the Anchor Desk
Friday, October 26, 2001
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9
Game Time Switch a Big Win-Win
Are you ready for some football?
Everybody wins with ESPN’s decision to
move East Carolina’s November 23 game with Southern Mississippi to Friday
morning at 11AM.
Get ready for one of the biggest
football days in the sports history of Eastern North Carolina. It’s a
Pirate football season finale for brunch, and a full buffet of high school
football playoff action at dinner.
I was one of many that took shots at
East Carolina for scheduling the game in the first place. I realize
television is to blame, but it still sets bad precedent to compete against
the local high schools.
ECU Athletic Director Mike Hamrick could
have taken some of the credit for the move. But to Hamrick’s credit, he
responded this way.
"Obviously, this game's date and time
have been dictated by television," Hamrick said. "However, we're pleased
that the game will not interfere with Friday night high school football in
North Carolina. The holiday weekend and a national TV audience should make
for an exciting atmosphere."
I couldn’t agree more. We could see the
Pirates clinch the Conference USA championship early in the afternoon, and
then watch several of our area high schools take another step towards a
state championship that evening.
Pirate coach Steve Logan likes the move,
“I love it, I do. I love it because
that’s about four less hours that I have to spend in a hotel room waiting
for the kick-off ” Logan explained.
“The only thing that would make me
happier is if they would kick it off at 8 AM. We could have coffee and
donuts at halftime and play that baby. The earlier, the better, for me,
that’s for sure.”
Don’t eat too much turkey and pumpkin
pie for Thanksgiving, because the football feast is Friday. It will be the
biggest football day that our area has ever seen.
CONFERENCE USA THIS WEEK
This is the game to find out if
Cincinnati is a contender, or a pretender. The Bearcats have won seven
straight conference games dating back to last year. Their last loss came
against these same Louisville Cardinals.
The Cardinals close out their season
with four of their final five games on the road, including a trip to
Greenville. Louisville survived a grudge match last Tuesday against
Southern Miss, coming from behind to win 24-14.
The difference in these two teams is
Louisville quarterback Dave Ragone. Ragone finds a way to win, and he’s
the guy the Bearcats will have to stop.
Southern Miss battered Ragone, but the Cardinal quarterback still picked
up a victory.
UAB at Memphis
The winner of this game stays in the
bowl hunt. The loser may begin thinking about next season.
The Tigers came to Greenville with a
roar last week. They left with barely a whimper. East Carolina completely
shut down Memphis, so the Tigers had some questions to work on at practice
UAB won last year’s game in Birmingham
at Legion Field. That was a defensive struggle in which Memphis had 186
total yards, compared to UAB with just 200.
Houston at Southern
The Golden Eagles should make short work
of Houston this week, though the Cougars gave Cincinnati quite a fight
last weekend. Houston blew an 11-point third quarter lead in the loss.
Southern Miss is looking to snap a rare,
two-game losing streak.
These two have a great history in
Conference USA. Back in 1996, the first year of the league, Houston beat
Southern Miss 56-49 on their way to the first ever championship in the
Contrast that to last year’s score, when
Southern Miss beat Houston 6-3.
Tulane at Army
The Black Knights have a real shot at a
second conference win if they can slow down Tulane’s high-octane offense.
Army won last year’s game 21-17 on a
last second touchdown pass.
Tulane was disappointing again last week
in the loss to UAB after blasting TCU the week before.
This is a match up of to teams desperate
for respect. It’s also a pair of teams that have to try and continue to
improve, to make this conference that much more appealing.
Bailey's C-USA Power Rankings 
1. Louisville…. Cards have several tough
road games to go.
2. East Carolina… Pirates will win the
league title with four more efforts like the one from Saturday.
3. Cincinnati… Put up or shut up time
for the Bearcats.
4. TCU… Only team in the league with one
conference loss. Hopefully, the Frogs head south after the ECU game on
5. Southern Miss…. Just 1-2 in the
league, but still could be the best team in the conference.
6. Memphis…. Tigers have to regroup
after long trip to Greenville.
7. UAB….Blazers hope to keep bowl hopes
alive against Memphis.
8. Tulane… Great offense + No defense =
Very Few Wins.
9. Army….The Black Knights hope for
another league win this week.
10. Houston….The best 0-6 team in the
country, I guess.
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