College Sports in the Realm of Bonesville
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Publisher & Editor
History of pettiness still
East Carolina coaching legend
Pat Dye (48-18-1 record from 1974-79) will be enshrined in the
College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Indiana, but has
yet to overcome resistance to his entry into ECU's own sports
Hall of Fame. (Photo: ECU SID)
If the East Carolina community needed
another example of how internal politics have historically tripped up the
school's athletic ambitions, it got a glaring one on Wednesday.
Word out of New York that the College
Football Hall of Fame
will enshrine Pat Dye should cause
embarrassed squirming among those who have blackballed the winningest coach
in ECU's modern football era from induction into the school's own Hall.
For the program's rank-and-file supporters,
especially the ones old enough to appreciate the magnitude of what Dye
accomplished at ECU, the development is like being shocked into reality one
more time by a bucket of ice water — as if Pirate partisans needed another
reminder that politics have been tied to their beloved football team like a
ball and chain during much of the period since visionary chancellor Leo
Jenkins retired in 1978.
As for ECU's Hall of Fame, it has also been
mired in politics for a goodly portion of its three-decade existence. At one
point in the 1980's,
recounted Bonesville.net columnist Woody Peele
earlier this month, the school's Board of Trustees intervened
directly in the Hall's selections.
Peele, the dean of the ECU sports media,
should know — he and former Pirate player, coach and AD Bill Cain did the
leg work in establishing the Hall in 1974, and Peele has maintained a keen
interest in the shrine's processes ever since.
It takes a colossal stretch to accept at
face value the justifications I've heard whispered over the years by people
associated with or close to the selection process for blocking Dye from
Does it really matter 25 years later that
Dye ruffled some feathers when he bolted ECU for Wyoming after the 1979
What's the big lingering deal about Dye
having concluded that the micro-meddling in the football program by Jenkins'
successor, Thomas Brewer, was a burden he was unwilling to live with?
Is it really important in this day and time
that Dye once looked into leaving ECU to take N.C. State's head coaching
job, prompting a flurry of political maneuvers by Brewer and other
ECU-connected operatives that blocked the Wolfpack from hiring him?
Regardless of any of those ancient
tensions, Dye clearly left an unsurpassed legacy of sustained success at ECU
and should have been hustled into the Hall of Fame the moment he became
eligible long ago.
The relatively adolescent Pirate
program needs all the ties to the hallowed traditions of college football it
can muster. ECU has clearly stood to inherit more luster from emphasizing
its past association with Dye than Dye has stood to inherit from ECU.
Bonesville.net features writer Ron
an extensive profile based on interviews with Dye
in last summer's Bonesville Magazine, and both Cherubini and longtime
broadcaster Henry Hinton, also a Bonesville.net columnist, have written
articles since then questioning Dye's exclusion from ECU's Hall.
Sept. 30, 2004, Hinton Column]
April 4, 2005, Cherubini column]
Maybe in the Hall of Fame class that school
officials will soon announce, Dye will get his due from the place where he
launched his remarkable head coaching career.
Unfortunately, when East Carolina finally gets
around to bestowing the proper recognition on the man who left a job as Bear
Bryant's defensive coordinator to pursue the leadership opportunity laid out
before him by Jenkins and legendary Pirate athletic director Clarence
Stasavich, the gesture will be perceived as the clumsy afterthought that it
In the wake of Dye's selection for college
football's ultimate honor, what would have been an opportunity in years gone
by for East Carolina to have drawn some important national attention to
itself by inducting Dye into the shrine for the Purple & Gold has been
Just imagine the exposure Dye's
introduction as an incoming ECU Hall of Famer would have inspired had it
occurred at midfield of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium during halftime of one of the
dozens of games the Pirates have played on ESPN over the years.
In contrast, the only mentions of ECU you
will see in accounts from The Associated Press and other major outlets about
Dye's pending induction into college football's ultimate shrine in South
Bend, Ind., will be passing references that get lost in the recounting of
his early apprenticeship to Bryant at Alabama and his later stint as head
coach (and mentor to Bo Jackson) at Auburn.
Through all the years of being officially
snubbed by ECU, Dye has continued to speak fondly of the days when he
pursued the broad vision mapped out by Jenkins and Stas.
And to this day, he has maintained ties to
friends he made in Eastern North Carolina — a region which he pioneered as a
fertile recruiting ground by scouring every farm town and fishing village
for the players at the core of the team he willed to a 48-18-1 record in his
six years at the helm.
All of this should not be taken as
criticism of ECU's current crop of campus and athletics administrators, who
have barely had time to get their bearings since taking over from a
since-discredited cadre of officials that typified the arrogance and
pettiness that has all too often distracted the program and its fans from
the objectives at hand.
As a matter of fact, Chancellor Steve
Ballard and Director of Athletics Terry Holland can go a long way toward
shaping their own endearing legacies by purging ECU of the culture of
infighting and trifling political games that every few years, like
clockwork, get out of hand, breeding disunity and complicating the pursuit
of the school's missions on all fronts.
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02/23/2007 01:37:53 AM