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Ed Emory in 2003
(Photo: Richmond Raiders)

Emory as ECU coach
(Photo: ECU Media Relations)

East Carolina icon "Big Ed" Emory passes

From staff reports
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Player, coach and educator Ed Emory, a member of the East Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame, died Friday in Wadesboro after a lengthy illness. A native of Lancaster, SC, Emory was 74.

An all-star lineman tagged with the nickname "Big Ed," Emory lettered for the Pirates from 1957-59, developing a fierce, lifelong loyalty to the school.

Emory used his academic and football experiences at East Carolina as a foundation for building an impactful career in both the high school and college ranks. In 1980, he leapt at the opportunity to return to his alma mater as head coach, succeeding Pat Dye.

His five-year tenure at the helm of the program produced one of the most remarkable seasons in school history. In 1983, the Pirates finished the season ranked 20th in the Associated Press poll after compiling an 8-3 record against one of the nation's toughest schedules.

The losses during that milestone campaign were by narrow margins in down-to-the-wire road thrillers to eventual national champion Miami, sixth-ranked Florida and their fellow Sunshine State powerhouse, Florida State. Among the victories were a 22-16 win at N.C. State and a 13-6 upset at Holiday Bowl-bound Missouri.

A succession of future NFL players came out of Emory's ECU program, including Earnest Byner, Tootie Robbins, Jody Schultz and Reggie Branch.

Playing as an Independent, with most games on the road against a steady lineup of powerful opponents, the Pirates recorded a 26-29 record under Emory before he was dismissed after going 2-9 in 1984.

Sorely disappointed over his firing, Emory never lost his loyalty to the Pirates. He redirected his energies to the high school ranks, where he achieved considerable success as a principal and a coach.

From 2001 to 2006, Emory's Richmond County High Raiders were one of the state's most successful programs, producing a 77-7 mark and losing only one regular season game during the span.

It was during that prodigious term at Richmond High that Emory received word that he would receive an honor he had long coveted but thought might never come. Spurred by an upwelling of pressure from alumni and fans and lobbying by former players, Emory was selected in 2003 for induction into the ECU Athletics Hall of Fame.

In the years before and after Emory's enshrinement, Bonesville's Ron Cherubini authored a number of articles for this site and for Bonesville The Magazine based on extensive interviews with Emory. Cherubini's "Pirate Time Machine" package on Emory in the 2002 Bonesville The Magazine,  which chronicled Emory's career and his affinity for his alma mater, may have helped prompt the surge of support for Emory that culminated in his Hall of Fame enshrinement the following year.

Among the online stories on Emory penned by Cherubini are these selections from Bonesville's archives:

A limited number of original copies of the 2002 Bonesville The Magazine that featured Cherubini's "Pirate Time Machine" package on Emory are available by contacting this site's editor.

PAGE UPDATED 01/18/13 04:09 AM.

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