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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Friday, July 25, 2003
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

Everybody optimistic until season's reality bites


Pedigreed Pirates weighs in on ECU future
'Ancient' blunder still stings Big East
Tranghese disputes Swofford claim
Big East stares at Big Decisions
C-USA Kickoff forum sidetracked by events
Tranghese repents, Swofford doesn't

ACC treads cautiously towards title game
New coalition confronts status quo
Cartel's bigwigs say no, but...
BCS powerbrokers eclipse other meetings
Summer travels feature realignment chatter
ACC move has dual implications for C-USA
League tremors low priority for Rimpf
Tulane CEO bucks BCS, demands reform
Realignment injects urgency into season
Army declares independence
Big East speeds UConn timetable

Although I did not make the trip to Memphis for Conference USA’s media day, I did watch the satellite video feed that the conference sent out this past Tuesday.

It’s very interesting to hear the coaches spin their current situations. In baseball, the saying is that everybody’s in the pennant race in April. The same thing holds true for football teams in August.

Houston and Army are picked at the bottom of the league’s standings. That may be the only similarity for those two programs.

“We real excited about the season,” said Houston Coach Art Briles. “If I knew what was going to happen then I’d be a little more relaxed. We’ll just see what happens.”

I have a feeling that Coach Briles might lose sleep if he could see into the future.

At Army, the Black Knights will soon lose Conference USA. Former East Carolina assistant Todd Berry continues to try and turn things around for the Cadets. But this has to be one of the most difficult jobs in the nation.

“We are certainly deeper with regards to recruiting,” said Berry. “Competition is a great motivator. We haven’t had this type of quality depth since I’ve been here.”

Texas Christian is the preseason pick to win the Conference USA title. Gary Patterson says that each season teams have to deal with expectations.

“We have internal expectations for our team, and then we have those from the outside,” said Patterson. “Last year our internal expectation was to win the league title.”

Patterson realizes that success and failure come and go quickly.

“I think being in the Top 25 is special,” Patterson said, putting a label on the status his team achieved a year ago. “But I also think you have to have some luck. Maybe that’s why there is pressure. I think we’ll be pretty good on defense, though.”

East Carolina travels to Cincinnati for the opener on September 1st. One of the most impressive coaching performances in the country over the last two or three years has been the job Rick Minter has done with the once-lowly Bearcats.

“We know that we are going to have to do a lot better with turnovers,” said Minter. “Most champions in this league over the last couple of years have had two qualities. One is a quarterback that can make plays for you, that can win games in the season. The other is a great defense. I think we have a chance to have both.”

At UAB, Watson Brown serves as both football coach and athletic director. So he, especially, looks forward to the start of the season.

“Rivalries are growing every year,” said Brown. “We open our conference season with Southern Miss on national television.”

Brown is also high on the league.

“I know that we would not be where we are today at UAB without Conference USA,” he said.

While all of the coaches showed enthusiasm, their excitement still pales with that of new Pirate coach John Thompson. J.T. was easily the most excited coach at the gathering.

“As far as where we fit in this league, we just don’t know,” said Thompson. “But I love these players, I love the effort that they are showing, and I can’t wait to get going.”

I can’t wait either. Opening day is just over a month away!

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02/23/2007 01:26:04 AM

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