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Read Henry Hinton's feature story on veteran Hollywood actress and ECU alum Beth Grant in Bonesville Magazine.

Henry's Highlights
Thursday, September 2, 2004

By Henry Hinton

Realistic goal for WVU game: credible showing


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Bonesville Magazine

• PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact

• Recruit Profiles
• Rookie Books
• Tracking the Classes
• Florida Pipeline
• NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again


• STEVE BALLARD: New Leader Takes Charge

• SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door

• KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams

• BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate


East Carolina has never won a football game in Morgantown. The Pirates have made ten trips there, but this Saturday’s game is different.

Of course, one reason it is different is because it will be John Thompson’s first trip to Mountaineer Field.

But that’s not the big difference. The major change in this visit is that ECU has nearly no chance to win.

It is a little bit of a bad break for Thompson and company this time around. His rebuilding efforts are not nearly at the level where he can expect to be highly competitive in a game like this.

As for West Virginia? Who knew? In contrast to what is happening at ECU, Rich Rodriguez is now starting his fourth year there. The fruits of his labor are paying off huge as the Mounties are in everyone’s pre-season Top Twenty.

Impossible to win? Well, let’s just say highly improbable. In fact, you have to admire Thompson’s attitude as he enters the game.

Not that he has a choice, but the second year Pirate head coach is putting a positive spin on the challenge he faces in the opener on Saturday in a hostile stadium.

“As a player and a coach you look forward to that,” said Thompson. “I don’t think there is any team we are intimidated by. We have great respect for them and our guys know we face a great challenge.”

Going 1-11 in his first year, Thompson gets a pass by most who believe he inherited a difficult situation in rebuilding a Pirate program that had been beset with trauma in the year prior to his arrival.

Starting year number two, however, the feisty Thompson seems realistic about his situation and where the expectations will go now.

“This football team feels like we have a lot to prove. This coaching staff feels like we have a lot to prove,” he says. “We have got to get the job done and we do that by working and working and working.”

True. So true. Now Thompson will be under more pressure to produce. Every angle of the coming months — including his recruiting strategy, sideline decisions and, most especially, his winning percentage — will under more scrutiny.

“We’re going to get there,” Thompson says, almost as if he is reminding himself to be optimistic.

As for the opener in Morgantown, the Pirate head coach must know how difficult the task will be. Keeping the score even respectable could set the tone for this young team to believe it has a chance to have a winning season.

And who knows? With a new offensive philosophy and a new quarterback, perhaps the Pirates will bring back some of the old fire. As they say, anything ‘could’ happen.

A good effort against West Virginia could serve as a springboard to make this team believe they can defeat a rebuilding Wake Forest team at home in a week.

Pirate fans use to enjoy keeping up with East Carolina’s percentage of wins versus Big East teams. There was a stretch in the mid-90’s where the Pirates actually held a huge lead over that conference over a number of years.

As we enter Saturday’s game with the Mountaineers, the current all time record against Big East teams is 14-26.

In addition to being a terrific confidence builder, a decent performance on Saturday could serve ECU well if and when the time comes for the next round of conference realignment decisions.

Of more concern, an embarrassing loss might hurt the chances of a Pirate program trying to make the statement that “we belong.”


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02/23/2007 10:13:58 AM

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