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Bailey's Take on Conference USA

From the Anchor Desk
Friday, November 16, 2001

By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

Pirates Fall Short, But TV Execs Happy


GREENVILLE — As the Conference USA title race unfolded this season, it became apparent that East Carolina and Conference USA had just what they wanted on Thursday night — the Pirates and Louisville would be playing for the league title on national television on ESPN.

Perhaps the league and the suits at ESPN continued to get their way last night — the game was compelling drama until the very end.

It's a shame the Pirates could not have gotten their way, too.

It was a battle full of fireworks, and now once beaten Louisville heads to Memphis. It was a great show for the nation to see.

East Carolina built an early 14-0 lead on the strength of two Leonard Henry touchdowns. The Cardinals cut into the lead before the Pirates pulled out one of the team’s favorite plays.

It’s called “Gamecock” and it was first used by the Pirates against South Carolina several years ago. The play has a great success rate, and is similar to the old “fumble-rooskie” that Nebraska and others have used in the past.

That play is no longer legal. The “Gamecock” is legal, and worked like this.

The Pirates lined up in an odd formation. Those of us that have seen the play before knew it was coming.

David Garrard took the snap and placed the football into the front of Demarcus Fox’s legs. Fox hesitated, and then took several stutter-steps the other way.

Before Louisville knew what hit them, Fox was in the end zone.

The Pirates led 21-13 at the half, but then things started falling apart all over.

The Pirates have had great special teams all year, but the Cards took the 2nd half kick-off back for a touchdown.

Before the Pirates could recover, Louisville had run off a 26-0 spurt to lead 39-21.

Give the Pirates credit, because this team didn’t’ quit. Maybe the Pirates took some notes from TCU and Cincinnati, because the Pirates came roaring back, and simply ran out of time.

Good teams snuff out the other team’s weaknesses. Despite everything that happened through almost four quarters of football, the Pirates would have still won the football game, if the defense could have just made a stop.

It’s been like that all year long. The Pirates are not a good defensive football team. They have great athletes, solid coaching, but something is still very wrong.

Championship teams don’t give up 39 points at home in a championship game.

It is a most bitter pill to swallow. Now, the Pirates need to beat Southern Miss. and then most likely head to Mobile for a bowl game.

The players didn’t like Mobile at all back in 1999. But that looks to be the destination — IF the team can bounce back and beat Southern Miss., which won’t beat easy.

Another year goes by, and it’s another season without a championship for East Carolina.

I feel especially bad for David Garrard and Leonard Henry. Both players wanted nothing more then to bring a C-USA title to Greenville in their final seasons.

Maybe the Pirates should have used Garrard and Henry on defense.

Again, it’s a bitter pill, but one that the Pirate players will have to swallow.

Conference USA This Week

Tulane at Southern Miss

The Golden Eagles should make short work of the Green Wave and head to Greenville with a 5-3 record. Southern Miss has won the last two games by an average of 31 points per game.

The Tulane game is the first of a string of four season ending contests for USM. The Golden Eagles will also finish seasons for East Carolina, Alabama and TCU.

Army at Memphis

The Black Knights make only their second trip to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium this week. Memphis was a winner in the only previous meeting between these two teams. The Tigers are favored, and need a win to keep their flickering bowl hopes alive.

UAB at Houston

Will this finally be the week for the Cougars? Probably not. But for Houston, it may be their best shot at a victory, with the Cougars last game at Georgia. The two teams have only met one other time, and that was in 1999, when UAB won 29-10.

Pirates Win A Pair in Hoops

Congratulations to Pirate Coach Bill Herrion on his club’s 2-0 start. This history-making season for Pirate basketball is off to an amazing start. The Pirates beat Rutgers from the Big East on Wednesday, and then stunned Northwestern from the Big Ten last night.

Tonight, it’s East Carolina and N.C. State in the title game. The tournament was set up for the Wolfpack to win it. Check out State’s first two opponents, Prairie View A&M and San Jose State.

Best of luck to the Pirates tonight, as the basketball program looks to take another big step forward!

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02/23/2007 01:19:49 AM

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