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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
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
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
(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
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
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
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
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.