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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Wednesday, July 7, 2004
By Brian Bailey

Thoughts of autumn on the brain


I know you doubt me on this one. Believe me, though, when I say that football season is just around the corner.

Once the calendar hits July, then you can literally count down the days.

The first big date to look for is when the calendar turns to August. That first day of the eighth month of the years is the start of the Conference USA Media Days in Memphis.

Ironically, the league's year officially begins where each coach hopes his team finishes, in the Land of Elvis. Again in 2004, C-USA teams will be fighting for a conference championship and the right to play in the Liberty Bowl.

For Pirate fans, the real season begins on August 9th. That’s when the players report to camp. The team usually runs through a series of tests that they should be ready for — after sweating it out all summer. The squad will arrive in shape, ready to get things going.

The first day of practice is that very next day, on August 10th. The coaches have waited all summer long, but now the clock is ticking and every minute of every practice has its own brand of importance.

Every workout is video taped, and then broken down for each position coach. One famous coach once commented that the eye was always looking. That’s pretty much the case with the cameras at practice.

This year the first day of practice in pads is also “media day.” I know that “media day” has to come early because of all of the preseason publications and other media projects. But I’ve always wondered how you can practice for just a couple of days, and then tell the world just what kind of team you expect to have.

Media Days through the years have featured interviews with the likes of Jeff Blake, Robert Jones, Vinson Smith, Marcus Crandell, George Koonce and a host of others.

Every year, members of the media find what we call “Mr. Soundbite,” that one guy who will always come up with a great quote.

Linebacker B.J. Crane was probably the best “Mr. Soundbite” in my time in Greenville. His bark was a bit better then his bite, but he was always entertaining.

Our next date to remember is exactly one week later on August 21st. This one is a true fan favorite. It’s “Meet the Pirates” night under the stadium, and over the years the event has proven to be one of the best nights of the summer.

So much changes from that first week of practice to the next big date for Pirate football. That date is August 25th, which is the first day of classes.

Even though it is still summer when classes start on campus, everyone in our fine city seems to go into “Fall” mode. The practice schedule condenses to just one per day, and the start of the football season is just days away.

Ten days later the Pirates hit the road for the Sept. 4 season opener at West Virginia. Some have picked the Mountaineers as a Top 10 team this season.

Morgantown is a tough place to play, especially for East Carolina. Add in the fact that WVU is picked to do well in 2004 and you’ve got the makings of a very difficult opening night assignment.

Finally, Pirate fans who can’t make the trip to Morgantown will have to patiently wait and fidget for Wake Forest's visit to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Sept. 11.

Isn’t it ironic that as a kid you hated to see August come, because that meant the end of summer and going back to school?

Now as an adult, you can’t wait for August and the start of football practices, leading into another football season!

For now, the wait continues. But the season is just around the corner!

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02/23/2007 01:29:31 AM

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