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Insights and Observations

Henry's Highlights
Wednesday, December 13, 2006

By Henry Hinton

Calm before bowl week about to end

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All is quiet this week at East Carolina, a tranquility that will not last long. The Pirate players are busy in final exams but on Friday they will hit the field and start preparing in earnest for their meeting with South Florida in the Bowl.

The coaches are getting a bit of a break right now but the players are not. Yes, they are STUDENT-athletes after all. Exams will be over soon Thursday and coaching staff will begin to install the game plan for the Dec. 23 game at Birmingham’s Legion Field.

ECU is an early underdog in the game (3.5 points) as of Tuesday, which can be considered a show of respect for a Pirate program that finished the season 7-5. South Florida is 8-4, finishing the season in impressive fashion with a 24-19 win over West Virginia in Morgantown in the last week of the regular season.

Being new to the postseason lineup, the Bowl has been working diligently to prepare for the teams’ arrival in Birmingham. Because it is the inaugural game, the pomp and circumstance is going to be held to a minimum.

Teams will arrive in Birmingham on Tuesday, Dec. 21. ECU will make the swanky Winfrey Hotel its home for the week. The Pirates had originally been assigned a smaller hotel but asked to move due to lack of meeting room space.

The Winfrey is generally considered the nicest place in town and features an opening into the Galleria, one of Birmingham’s premier indoor shopping malls. It is the hotel used annually for the Southeastern Conference Media Day event, which has made it easy for us in the media to be accommodated.

Talk 1070 will broadcast its Talk of the Town morning show live from the Winfrey on Friday, Dec. 22, from 6:30-9:00 a.m., including guests from ECU and bowl officials.

The teams will get their first workout in historic Legion Field on Wednesday morning. ECU will work out from 9:00-11:15 a.m. that day.

Wednesday night the team will be treated to a welcome dinner, courtesy of the City of Birmingham, at a comedy club. ECU Athletics Director Terry Holland will be the featured speaker.

On Thursday morning, the ECU team will get a taste of the southern city’s rich local history with a tour of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute followed by practice at Legion Field.

Some light-hearted fun will take place Thursday night as the teams from ECU and USF face each other in a bowling match. It is being billed as the "Bowling and Barbeque Challenge." Amazingly there will be no Papa John’s pizza served.

Friday morning the team captains, along with mascots and cheerleaders, will pay a visit to the Birmingham Children’s Hospital. At 11:00 a.m. that day, Coach Holtz will conduct his only official press conference of the week.

At noon on the day before the game, there will be an official “Kickoff Luncheon” at the Birmingham Sheraton Hotel downtown. Holtz will be the featured speaker there.

The bowl will conduct a pep rally on game day at Legion Field at 10:00 a.m. for fans of both the Pirates and the Bulls, and of course kick-off for the game is scheduled at noon central.

In addition to the live morning show coverage from Birmingham on Friday, Talk 1070 will air a “Bowling in Birmingham” special Friday night at 7:00 p.m.

On Saturday, "The Pepsi Game Day Countdown" will be broadcast live from Legion Field beginning at 10:00 a.m. (Eastern Time), a full three hours prior to kickoff.

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This page updated 04/21/08 07:01 PM.

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