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Insights and Observations

Henry's Highlights
Wednesday, January 10, 2007

By Henry Hinton

Best crystal ball might be the past

By Henry Hinton
All rights reserved.

6:30-9:00 a.m.

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In spite of the disappointing outing in the Bowl, East Carolina has a bright future, if history tells us anything.

The similarities between Skip Holtz’s second year in Greenville and the 1994 East Carolina team are amazingly striking.

Holtz’s Pirates finished the year with a 7-6 record after the thrashing in Birmingham on Dec. 23. The ’94 Pirates finished 7-5 and were the victims of a 30-0 beatdown in Memphis at the Liberty Bowl.

It was what happened the next season that should give Pirate fans great hope for the 2007 season.

The following year the program took off and finished 9-3. The 1995 Pirates also finished the season with a Top 25 ranking after landing right back in Memphis and knocking off Stanford 19-13.

Want to hear something even more spooky? The two seasons prior to the 7-5 record the Pirates posted 2-9 and 5-6 records. The two prior seasons to this year? Bingo!

Get the picture?

If the pattern continues (and it often does in sports) the Pirates could be in for a banner year in 2007. Some might say, yeah but ECU has a much more difficult schedule next year with the likes of Virginia Tech, North Carolina, N.C. State and West Virginia coming up.

Well, let’s see. During that 9-3 season in 1995, the Pirates played Tennessee, Syracuse, Illinois and that same West Virginia program. In fact after opening the season with a loss in Knoxville, the Pirates went on to post victories over the Orange and Mountaineers.

Not yet convinced? Then try this on for size. With all the problems ECU has had over the years with its competitive nemesis Southern Miss, the ’94 and ’95 seasons are two of the few seasons the Pirates have posted back to back wins over the Golden Eagles.

Perhaps that bodes well for next season’s meeting with Jeff Bower’s team when it visits Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in what will, no doubt, be a pivotal conference game for ECU.

With all the similarities we would be remiss not to point out the biggest difference in the upcoming 2007 Pirates and the team ECU fielded in 1995.

The Steve Logan-led Pirates had a seasoned returning quarterback that year. After suffering through the disappointing finish to the ’94 season, Marcus Crandall returned for a stellar senior season.

Skip Holtz does not have the luxury of a returning starter as the field general and must quickly find a way to win without experience at that position. While playing sparingly during the regular season, the only meaningful minutes Rob Kass had came in the second half of the Birmingham bowl game.

But don’t fret. In 1995 it took a while for ECU to get cranked up. They opened the year 3-3 with losses to UT, Illinois and Cincinnati while downing Central Michigan to go along with the Syracuse and West Virginia wins.

After that, ECU reeled off six straight wins, including the bowl victory over Stanford. That season continues to be one of the bright spots in Pirate football history.

Keep your fingers crossed. The stars are aligned in 2007.

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This page updated 04/21/08 07:02 PM.

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