Take on Conference USA
From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, November 13, 2001
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9
Ground Hog Day
Bill Murray was the only thing missing.
Remember the movie Ground Hog Day, when Murray kept
waking up to the same situation, the same small town, the same snowy day.
That’s how Steve Logan must have felt on Saturday
afternoon in Cincinnati.
He must have heard Sonny and Cher’s “I got you babe”
in his headphones.
The Pirates blow out TCU in the first half, injure
the starting quarterback, and then the Horned Frogs come from way behind
to almost win the football game.
Then comes Cincinnati, and the script is the same.
Blow out the Bearcats in the first half, injure the starting quarterback,
and then watch Cincinnati come even closer to winning the game.
Coach Logan joked that he might have a few gray hairs
after these last two games. I’m surprised that he hasn’t pulled all of his
hair out. These last two games have been that “hairy”.
“A football season to me is like Ground Hog Day,”
said the Pirate Coach. “You come to work, practice and go play. I’ve never
been in a game like this, previous to the TCU game and then to come back
and have two in a row is really odd.”
The Pirates have been like the “little girl with the
curl”. When they have been good, they have been great. But when they have
The “1st half Pirates” over the last couple of weeks
look like a Top 10 powerhouse. Leonard Henry and company have been
completely dominating. Henry’s running ability has opened up the passing
lanes for David Garrard.
These “1st half Pirates” are one of the best East
Carolina teams in the school’s history.
The “2nd half Pirates” of the last couple of weeks
look more like a team playing not to lose. That’s a dangerous proposition
and will bite you if it continues.
Murphy’s law seems to be the theme for the “2nd half
Pirates”. If something bad can happen, it will and it has.
The national average for the kicking team to recover
an onsides kick is somewhere around 20 percent. Somehow, though, the
Pirates are 0-2 over the last couple of weeks in situations when a
recovery was critical.
The Pirate return men have had all kinds of problems
in returning punts inside the ten yard line. Several bad decisions have
given East Carolina terrible field position in key parts of the game.
Louisville wants no part of the “1st half Pirates”.
It’s East Carolina’s home game on Thursday, so maybe the Pirates can
cancel half time, and keep those “1st half Pirates” on the field.
Maybe somebody should bring a ground hog to the game
on Thursday night, just in case. Or at least leave a ticket for Bill
If you play in a conference, you can ask nothing more
then to get a chance to play for that conference’s championship.
That’s what East Carolina faces on Thursday night.
ESPN’s cameras will be rolling in Greenville, with the Pirates hosting
Louisville for the league’s title.
The Cards bring a national ranking with them to
Greenville. Louisville is the defending C-USA champion. The Pirates are
annually one of the top teams in the league, but have yet to win a
Conference USA championship.
I remember talking with Pirate quarterback David
Garrard in the preseason. David realized then, as he realizes now, that
this is his last shot at a league championship and a chance to play in the
“I’m looking forward to the season,” Garrard said
this summer. “I really want to make my mark, and lead this team to a
Conference USA championship. We have the players, we just have to go out
and get the job done.”
Garrard gets his shot on Thursday night. He and Dave
Ragone are the top quarterbacks in the league this year. They could make
for a high flying, high scoring title game.
Coach Logan, though, wants to downplay all of the
outside issues with the game.
“I talked to the players about putting everything
else aside,” said Logan. “This is just about East Carolina and Louisville.
We’ve just got to figure out a way to win it.”
Conference USA Power Rankings 
1. Louisville — Cards are ranked 19th
nationally and go for a second straight league title on Thursday night
against East Carolina.
2. East Carolina — Pirates look to rise
to the top of the power ratings with a win. (“1st Half Pirates” would be
1st in the Power Ratings, while “2nd Half Pirates” would land somewhere
near 6th or 7th.)
3. Cincinnati — Bearcats were in a
position to spoil Pirate title hopes late.
4. Southern Miss — Golden Eagles still
have four games to go, including Alabama and East Carolina.
5. UAB — Blazers very much in bowl hunt,
could finish 7-4.
6. Memphis — Tigers will need win over
Cincinnati for winning season.
7. TCU — Horned Frogs could play the
role of spoiler with Louisville and Southern Miss. still on the schedule.
8. Tulane — Green Wave takes care of
Navy. Here’s hoping that Black Knights take notice.
9. Army — Cadets take major step
backwards with loss to Buffalo.
10. Houston — Conference USA wanted a
perfect season, but not this way.
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