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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, November 7, 2006
By Brian Bailey

A big day in November

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Emotions should run sky-high at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium this Saturday.

Senior Day, the "We are Marshall" movie, Military Appreciation Day and the East Carolina hoops opener should provide for a day to remember in Greenville.

Add in the fact that this is the first meaningful East Carolina football outing in November in some time and you’ve really got a reason to be at the game this week.

Senior Day is always an emotional time, regardless of a team’s record. This will be the last time the Pirate seniors will play a home game — unless, of course, things get wacky in Conference USA’s West Division and the Pirates play their way into the host role of the league’s championship game.

Pirate coach Skip Holtz has done a wonderful job so far of keeping his team focused. However, with so much going on around the program, he’ll be tested this week.

“Our goal again this week is to just go 1-0,” said Holtz at his weekly Monday news conference on campus. “We have to continue to be humble about our past, focused on our present, and hungry for our future.”

Holtz continued: “I’m not naïve; I know the players are getting in their dorm rooms and talking a little bit about the big picture. I think that’s a loser’s mentality, to think ahead like that. Sure, they hear stuff about bowl games and such, but so far they’ve done a good job in handling everything.”

This is a Pirate senior class that has never played in a bowl game. It’s a class that has seen three different head football coaches. It’s a class that desperately wants to finish strong. For these seniors, Saturday will be a very emotional time.

“Sometimes seniors don’t play well on these days,” said Holtz. “It’s hard to block and tackle when you have tears in your eyes. It’s really hard to focus in on a football game when you’re thinking about your past with the program. I know it will be emotional.”

"We Are Marshall"

Despite rumors to the contrary, Matthew McConaughey, who plays the coach in the upcoming movie "We Are Marshall," is not expected at Saturday’s game. McConaughey was on the sideline for a Marshall game earlier this season on a Thursday night.

"We Are Marshall" is the story of the 1970 plane crash that occurred after the Marshall football team had lost to East Carolina. McConaughey plays the Marshall coach, Jack Lengyel, who helped rebuild the football program after the crash. The movie will open on December 22nd.

Coach Holtz said that he had addressed this angle of the game with his team.

“We talked to the team about the movie, and about the history of the tragedy,” said Holtz. “We are very sensitive to the fact that the name East Carolina conjures up tragic memories for many in the Marshall community.”

Holtz said it is difficult to envisage what a tragedy like that would do for a football team and its fans.

“I can’t imagine,” said Holtz. “That area is a really close to its football team, sort of like Greenville and East Carolina. I can’t imagine all of the lives that were touched and affected.”

Marshall remembrances

On Wednesday evening at 8:00 p.m., ECU-TV will present "Remembering Marshall," a special program delving into poignant memories surrounding the hard-fought game between ECU and Marshall in then-Ficklen Stadium 36 years ago and the tragedy that unfolded in the hours after that game.

ECU-TV (cable channel 99, Sudden Link Communications) is East Carolina University’s official cable station.

On Saturday morning, East Carolina plans to honor the 1970 Marshall football team with a permanent plaque to be placed near the visitor’s gate at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. That ceremony is scheduled for late morning before the 1:00 p.m. ECU-Marshall football game.

Tickets for the Troops

As if the game needed any more emotion, Saturday is also Military Appreciation Day at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

What a great way to show the men and women of our military just how much we all appreciate the things they are doing.

I’m as guilty as anyone in taking my freedom for granted. I cover sports for a living. I go to games. I enjoy life, but only because the men and women of our military sacrifice so much to protect our freedom. We should all go and give them a personal thank you on Saturday.

That military group may prove to be a valuable 12th man come Saturday afternoon.

Emotions should run high all day long.

Basketball tips off

Don’t forget, after the football game stick around for ECU hoops and the start of year two of the Ricky Stokes era at East Carolina. The Pirates host Morgan State at 6:00 p.m.

You can sharpen your knowledge about the basketball Pirates by catching the Windows Media replay of my weekly Cable 7/Talk 1070 show from last night, which featured ECU head coach Ricky Stokes as my guest. [Select Brian Bailey Show...]

What a day! You’d better bring your tissue on Saturday, because you just might shed a tear or two.

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04/21/2008 07:04:19 PM


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