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Bailey's 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 been bad…..

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 Murray.

Conference USA Championship Game

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 Liberty Bowl.

“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 [111301]

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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02/23/2007 01:19:49 AM

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