Take on Pirate Sports
From the Anchor Desk
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
By Brian Bailey
Thompson goes head-to-head
East Carolina football coach John Thompson says he’s not interested in
the distractions that come with a struggling football program.
He says he’s not feeling the heat, but he alluded to an imaginary
hooks-and-ladders emergency as an example of a rallying point for his club.
“It’s like dealing with a fire,” Thompson said. “If you’re trying to get
others out of that fire, you have to know you’re going to get burned. We
have to have that mentality, that you’ve got to sacrifice to succeed.”
Army comes to town riding a two-game winning streak. The Black Knights
have won as many games in two weeks as the Pirates have in two years. But
put that into the context of Army's 19-game string of futility leading up to
its Oct. 9 win over Cincinnati and this shakes out to be a match up of two
teams desperate for success on the gridiron.
The stats don’t paint a pretty picture for East Carolina. Army averages
193 yards per game on the ground, which is 21st best in the nation. The
Pirates are 113th in the nation in rushing defense and 116th in scoring
Army racked up 48 points against Cincinnati and 42 in its victory the
following week over South Florida. The Pirates are giving up 41 points per
For ECU, there is a silver lining as far as the stats analysis goes. Army
is dead last in the nation in total defense, 116th in passing defense and
110th in rushing defense.
Somebody break out a new case of light bulbs for the scoreboard, because
this one could feature all kinds of scoring. It may be a case of the Pirate
offense trying to keep pace.
“It all starts with the run,” said Thompson. “We have to find a way to
stop the run. We’ve got to get eleven guys on the same page on defense.”
Thompson, like most of the Pirate Nation, is obviously frustrated with a
team that had an extra week to prepare for Southern Mississippi, only to go
out and trail 35-0 at halftime before losing 51-10.
Thompson, though, continues with the same tune.
“We are just going to keep working as hard as we possibly can work,”
Thompson said. “I know I’ve said it before, but that’s all we can do. We
know we are on the right track. I know we are going to get this thing done.”
I asked Thompson if this job was more difficult then he thought it would
be when he was hired.
“It is more difficult,” Thompson said. “But it is what it is, and we just
have to keep at it. We will turn this thing around.”
Thrill time for LeClair
I wrote former ECU baseball coach Keith LeClair a congratulatory e-mail
about his Red Sox beating the Yankees last week. I told Coach LeClair that I
was rooting for his Red Sox to end the “Curse of the Bambino,” so next year
the Cubs could finally get past their “Goat Curse” and win a World Series.
I thought of LeClair often when I watched Curt Schilling win Game 2 of
the World Series, as he pitched with that dislocated tendon in his ankle.
As cameras got a shot of the blood soaking through the sock, viewers got
a good look at what Schilling had written on his cleat.
The shoe read, “K”, ALS, which stands for Strike Out ALS, otherwise known
as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It's the same malady that afflicts LeClair, forcing
him to step down as ECU's baseball coach after the 2002 season.
Schilling has his own foundation, Curt’s Pitch for ALS, and over the last
13 years he and his wife Shoda have donated and helped raise over five
million dollars for the ALS Association.
A courageous Curt Schilling is the story of baseball’s post season to
date. But even that courage pails in comparison to what Keith LeClair and
his family go through on a daily basis.
After Boston's 4-1 triumph Tuesday night in St. Louis, Coach LeClair’s
Red Sox are but one win away from that World Series title that has eluded
them since 1918. Here’s hoping the Sox can come through for the coach!
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