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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Friday, August 30, 2002
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9


Kickoff relegates bowl meltdown to ancient past


Chip is back

It has seemed like an eternity since the last Marshall points hit the scoreboard in Mobile last season.

This is a Pirate team that is very different from the one that lost 64-61 to the Thundering Herd in the highest scoring bowl game in history.

This team has a chip on its shoulder, and that could very well turn out to be the difference. The Pirates are much more dangerous when expectations aren’t as high.

This 2002 Pirate football team is loaded with talent. But, it is young talent that will be tested for the first time on Saturday night.

“We have inexperience at several key spots,” said Pirate head coach Steve Logan. “Most people won’t believe it, but Duke will have more experience on the field on Saturday then we will.”

Both coaches agree that the their respective teams are desperate to play a game.

“We are just happy to get a chance to play,” said Blue Devils head coach Carl Franks. “I know that East Carolina has an outstanding program, they’ve finished second a couple of times in Conference USA, and I know that they are very athletic. Still, we look forward to the match up.”

Steve Logan agrees that it’s time to buckle up the chinstrap and get it on!

“We are at the point where we need to play a game,” Logan said. “We are looking forward to getting the season started.”

The Pirates haven’t faired all that well in season openers, winning just 3 of the team’s last 11 opening games. Most of that credit, though, goes to the schedule. The Pirates have opened with the likes of Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Tennessee, Illinois and Syracuse in that span.

The Pirates are 31-34-1 in the team’s history in opening games.

Will Pirates still be deadly in scoring territory?

Lost in the Pirate’s 6-6 record last season was the team’s success in the red zone.

The Pirates were actually perfect in scoring inside the opponent’s 20-yard line in situations that really mattered.

East Carolina scored inside the opponent’s 20-yard line 18 straight times before letting the game clock expire after moving the ball to the Army 14 on its last possession of that game, a 49-26 Pirate win.

The Pirates have a current streak of 26 straight scores inside the red zone. All in all, the Pirates were 44-45 in the red zone last year, with the one intentional blemish occurring as an act of good sportsmanship versus the Black Knights.

'Friday Promise' continues to fester

The Friday night controversy at ECU continues to make news.

On Thursday, Williamston coach Harold Robinson backed off of his stance of “barring” ECU coaches from the school.

“I think my opinion has been well chronicled and well documented,” Robinson said. “My opinion about that Friday night has not changed a bit.

“However, the Martin County schools have adopted the policy that any East Carolina University employee, coach or any other person is always welcome on our campus or any of the other four high schools. The Martin County schools also support ECU’s game on December 6th.”

The issue can be traced back to an unequivocal and highly-publicized statement ECU athletic director Mike Hamrick made last year that Pirates would adhere to a policy of not playing Friday night games in conflict with high school game.

I believe that Hamrick had little choice but to take the game on ESPN2 on that Friday night.

But I also believe that Hamrick should have never said that East Carolina wouldn’t play on a Friday when the controversy first arose last year.

It sounds to me like Hamrick’s hands were tied, and if that was a likely eventuality a year ago, then he should have never made the now infamous “Friday Promise.”

The occasional crystal ball says...

I normally make it a practice not to make predictions on East Carolina games. The problem is, if you pick ECU every week, then you might pick up a few fans, but you lose your credibility.

Likewise, if you pick the Pirates to actually lose a game, well, then things get really rough.

But from time to time, I’ll make a prediction and here goes this one.

I see the Pirates winning 35-17.

Paul Troth throws three touchdown passes to three different receivers. Richard Alston, Tutu Moye and Art Brown all catch scoring tosses from Troth.

The Pirates will be nursing a 28-17 lead late, when Kelly Hardy picks off a pass and goes the distance for a touchdown, duplicating his feat from the 2000 game with Duke.

Have a safe trip to Durham, and we’ll see you at Wallace Wade Stadium.

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02/23/2007 01:21:52 AM

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