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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, December 3, 2002
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

Food for thought on Friday night damage control

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The controversial Friday at the center of the “Friday Night Fight” is coming up this week.

Everyone has an opinion. I’ve certainly stated mine on a number of occasions.

The bottom line is that the high school football coaches in the area and the execs at the North Carolina High School Athletic Association feel like East Carolina did not deal with them in good faith on the matter.

Needless to say, the hard feelings are still festering. With a number of area prep squads still in the hunt for a state title, the scenario which has unfolded is ironic indeed.

"We feel that this particular date will have a very minimal, if any, impact on high school football," said ECU athletic director Mike Hamrick last summer when he caught the high schools and Pirate coach Steve Logan off guard with his announcement that the Cincinnati game would be moved to the same night as the semifinals of the state prep playoffs.

As it turns out, though, rather than having its primary contenders eliminated in mass in the early rounds, the Down East region is still well represented as the stakes get bigger on the next-to-last weekend of the playoffs.

The weather forecast calls for temperatures in the 30s with wind out of the northwest, setting the stage for many fans to make a hard choice between donning the long johns and attending a game or hanging out in the warmth of their living rooms with the TV tuned to ESPN2.

Hopefully, fans will bundle up and support their team in person, but cold weather combined with the temptation to watch a live telecast of the ECU-Cincy game in comfort may affect attendance at not only the high school games, but also at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Transforming bad into good

It is unknown if such plans were or are being contemplated by ECU and ESPN, but I believe there was a potential win-win situation that would have benefited the high schools as well as Pirate football. With a little planning and marketing this entire controversy could have turned into a huge positive for everyone involved.

How about this for a scenario for the national telecast of the Pirates vs. the Bearcats:

(Play-by-Play Announcer Mark Malone)

So with the Pirates leading 14-6 and driving for more, the Bearcats call a time out.

(Color Commentator Rod Gilmore)

Right now we want to take you live, just 35 miles up the road to Williamston, North Carolina, for a taste of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s state playoffs. Williamston is hosting Farmville Central in the 1AA Eastern Championship game.


Here’s a look at the enthusiastic crowd in Tiger Town tonight. You know , Rod, these two schools produced two of the greatest linebackers in East Carolina history.

(Roll Video Tape)

That’s right Mark. Former Williamston star Pernell Griffin is the all-time leading tackler in Conference USA history. He wore the green and gold of Williamston and played for Harold Robinson with the Tigers.

(Wipe To Next Video)

And remember former ECU linebacker Morris Foreman… He was an option quarterback for Dixon Sauls at Farmville Central before his stellar career at East Carolina. Foreman was a big play guy on defense for East Carolina.


That’s a live look-in at Williamston and Farmville Central with that game tied at 6-6 just before halftime. Now, let’s go down to the sideline with Alex Flanagan for more on the state high school football playoffs going on tonight around the state here in North Carolina.

(Sideline Reporter Alex Flanagan)

Mark, there are six coaches in the Eastern half of these state playoffs with strong ties to East Carolina. Both Dixon Sauls and Harold Robinson from the game you just featured attended ECU. Plus, New Bern’s Chip Williams, Fike’s Richie Pridgen, Southside’s DeWayne Kellum and North Edgecombe’s Raymond Cobb all have some kind of degree from East Carolina. All of these coaches are Pirates and all need one more win to take their teams to the state finals. Now back to the booth…..

This exchange would have taken no more then 2 minutes out of the broadcast, and ESPN2 would have never missed a play. This would have also given East Carolina and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association a POSITIVE to build on.

Think of the national publicity this would have given the situation.

Would ESPN2 have been willing to do a spot like this? They did something similar this season with another game.

This could have been a win-win for East Carolina and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. It’s called damage control, but to this point in time, we're unaware of any official efforts by ECU to extend olive branches or implement any damage control efforts.

Pirates Are Even-Steven in Televised Games

The Pirates are dead even at .500 in televised games. The Pirates are 19-19 in nationally televised games and 13-13 in games on ESPN and ESPN2.

The Pirates are also 52-52 all time in televised games. Over the past eight years, 76% of all of the Pirates’ games have been televised.

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02/23/2007 01:21:56 AM

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