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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

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


Cloud of controversy produces uncertainty at ECU


The black clouds that have hovered over the East Carolina athletic department followed the football team to Durham on Saturday night.

The cloud that was in the sky dumped rain by the bucket load, but it was another cloud that may have been at least one of the reasons that ECU lost its opening game.

Duke snapped its infamous 23-game losing streak by upsetting the Pirates 23-16.

Perhaps fans and observers of the program should have seen it coming. Instead of focusing on a new season, the athletic program has been mired in controversy all summer.

A 'buzz', credible or not, began circulating within and outside the athletic department in May that trouble of some sort might be brewing.

School officials confirmed that the university was conducting what was termed a “normal” audit of the ECU athletic department. Officials called the audit one of many that are done all around the campus. They termed it “business as usual.”

Then came the “Friday Promise” firestorm, sparked when ECU's home game with Cincinnati was moved, at the behest of ESPN and Conference USA, to the first Friday night in December by ECU athletic director Mike Hamrick. The move placed the game in conflict with the semifinals of the state high school football playoffs.

The head football coach was mad, a prominent member of the Board of Trustees was livid, and the Pirate A.D. was apologizing to high school coaches via area newspapers, but not returning phone calls to at least one television station.

On game-day, the headlines should have read something like, “Pirates Get Set for 2002 Opener”, or “ECU Looks to Dominate Duke”.

Instead, the black cloud took a stop in Raleigh on its way to Durham. The News and Observer, on opening day, proclaimed, “All is Not Well at ECU.”

The article went on to quote Hamrick and Pirate head coach Steve Logan, bringing into sharp focus the strain between the two that has emerged in public with revelations that Hamrick apparently skipped over a clause in Logan's contract by leaving the coach out of the loop in rescheduling the Cincinnati game.

That slight, in combination with the uproar from high school interests and the potential negative recruiting fallout over ECU's abrupt reversal of its Friday night policy, was apparently the straw that has prompted Logan to air his displeasure about the turn of events.

I asked Logan if it bothered him that the headlines of late haven’t been football related for East Carolina, and about the Friday night controversy.

“Yes, it bothers me,” said Logan. “You spend all of your time investing some integrity, some pride and some poise, the things that were not here ten years ago — and they are here now. All of a sudden those things are being attacked. It bothers me personally, but I don’t take it on the field.”

Logan continued, “That Friday night things is something that we’re going to have to see how it plays out. I think the high school football coaches and the athletic directors on the high school level know that this has nothing to do with Steve Logan. They know that I am probably one of the biggest advocates of high school football in this state. We’ve got more North Carolina football players on our team then anybody in this state, including the University of North Carolina.”

The Board of Trustees has a meeting scheduled for Wednesday of this week. Kind of makes you wonder if more clouds are in the forecast.

Troth show signs of leadership

Paul Troth is a natural born leader.

The Pirates' sophomore quarterback threw three interceptions, one for a Duke touchdown in the rain on Saturday night. After the game, though, he stood up and faced the music. He took the blame for most of ECU's problems on offense, despite the fact that he really doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the running game in the offense.

Troth was just 13-31 through the air, but he saw several passes hit his receivers in the chest, and then fall harmlessly to the ground.

“I don’t ever want to make any excuses,” said Troth. “The weather, though, did cause problems. I don’t thing you’ll see our receivers drop that many passes again. They are a good group, and we’ll all be better this week.”

Troth made some mistakes against the Devils. But he also showed the class of a great quarterback, and I think he’ll be a great one in the future.

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02/23/2007 01:23:14 AM

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