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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Friday, February 7, 2003
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

Are You Ready for Some Football (J.T. Style)?

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This was a signing day like no other at East Carolina, at least no other like I’ve seen in the past two decades.

Coach John Thompson’s first national signing day as the Pirates coach featured a signing party with almost four hundred in attendance. The party included several highlight reels, including those from the new ECU skipper's first crop of recruits.

The music may not be the stuff that most of us listen to, but most of what I heard is what this younger generation loves. Give credit to Coach Thompson and his staff for understanding that aspect of the recruiting game.

The thing that impressed me the most about this signing party was Coach Thompson’s general interest in the Pirate family. The coach continues to talk about getting everyone involved. That truly means everyone.

Coach Thompson went so far as to invite everyone out to football practice this spring. That’s right, he invited everyone to watch practice!

How’s that for a perfect Pirate spring day. You could take in a little of the football practice, and then head to Harrington Field for an ECU baseball game.

Now you know why some of us went into broadcasting!

Thompson told me that his recruiting philosophy is really quite simple.

“We really want to take care of Eastern North Carolina first,” said Thompson. “Then, we’ll head south. Jerry Odom (Thompson’s defensive coordinator) has more ties in Florida then anyone. We’ll also look to improve in Georgia, and especially in South Carolina. This is just the start.”

This initial recruiting class was ranked 103rd by That put the Pirates' effort at ninth in Conference USA.

I don’t put much stock in that ranking, though. East Carolina finished much higher in the recruiting rankings over the last couple of years, but had little to show for the effort last season.

Thompson is a salesman. Pirate fans will get a first hand look at that salesmanship this spring on the Pirate Club circuit.

In his eleven years as the Pirate head coach, I can only remember one or two “live on-the-air" interviews we had with former Coach Steve Logan. One of those was a special satellite deal we hooked up when ECU visited the University of Washington. It just wasn’t something the former coach was comfortable with.

Coach Thompson seems to love the spotlight. In my live interview on Wednesday night during WNCT-TV 9's 6:00 o'clock newscast, I asked him about the offensive coordinator position.

Thompson shot back that maybe he’d let me call a play or two. He was so loose and confident, it was almost scary.

The lack of an offensive coordinator is probably the only negative for Coach Thompson to date. Thompson, though, doesn’t bat an eyelash on the subject.

“We may name a new coordinator tomorrow, we may name one in two weeks,” said Thompson. “Our main concern is to get the right guy. We are close.”

I’ve only known Coach Thompson for a short while, but I believe he’s a straight shooter. He’ll get his man, and the Pirates will name their new offensive coordinator in the very near future.

Whoever he is, and I still think it will be Oregon State’s Noel Mazzone; he had better come ready to work.

Thompson shows no signs of slowing down.

And make those plans now to watch spring practice, because Coach Thompson invited us all! That includes me, and I’m looking forward to it.

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02/23/2007 01:25:34 AM

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