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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
By Brian Bailey

C-USA poll hands Bucs bulletin board material


Last year, the University of Central Florida was picked dead last in the East Division in Conference USA in the preseason media poll.

The Golden Knights then went to work on a tremendous season, and a berth in the first-everr C-USA title game. UCF hosted Tulsa in that historical match up.

East Carolina coach Skip Holtz has some bulletin board material. The Pirates are this year's pick to finish dead last in their division. Despite last year’s 5-6 mark, the Pirates were picked sixth in the East.

UCF was picked first and that’s understandable after the season that George O’Leary and company put together last year. Southern Miss was second, and it’s hard to argue against the Golden Eagles year in and year out.

I would have placed East Carolina third, with hopes that Coach Holtz and company will finish higher. I don’t think the Pirates have all of the pieces just yet, and the schedule is a difficult one.

Playing eight bowl teams and seven bowl winners will be a difficult chore. East Carolina will have early encounters with UAB on the road and with Memphis at home, which should set the early tone.

East Carolina has Marshall at home, but faces UCF and Southern Miss both on the road.

Tulsa is the pick in the West Division, barely over Texas-El Paso. The Pirates face Tulsa at home as a part of that rare, five-game home stand on the 2006 schedule.

LeClair “Friday” one to remember

Chuck Young, who spoke for the LeClair family this past week, joked that Coach Keith LeClair had “coached him up about LeClair’s funeral.”

Young said that LeClair had a plan. That plan was executed to perfection.

The funeral service was one that I will never forget. Sure, there was sadness. But the service had LeClair stamped all over it. Keith LeClair would have been proud.

Legendary high school coach and ECU assistant George Whitfield told a great story of LeClair’s courage. Whitfield visited with LeClair on the Sunday before LeClair’s death.

Clemson coach Jack Leggett wrote a poem and read it to the congregation. It was entitled “The Toughest Man I Know.”

The poem talked about LeClair’s decision to play for Western Carolina, where Leggett was coaching. It told of LeClair’s life and about the disease that cut that great life short.

He concluded his poem with these words:

We have learned much more from you, than you have from us all,
And believe us when we say it goes far deeper then baseball.
Keith, in our eyes you lived your life without flaw,
And, I’m willing to bet, that right now you’re headed to Omaha!

The service also included a videotape of LeClair himself, speaking to the congregation back when he was first diagnosed with ALS. It was a powerful message, made even more emotional by the circumstances.

Friday night’s “Celebration of Live” was equally as strong and emotional.

The coaches and players who spoke did a fabulous job of sharing their love for their coach with the many Pirate fans in attendance.

The stories were sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, but always filled with love and respect for Coach Keith LeClair.

Friday was a day to remember. And Friday was a day that I’ll never forget!

Send an e-mail message to Brian Bailey.

Click here to dig into Brian Bailey's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 01:33:54 AM


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