Nuggets of Gold
Monday, December 8, 2008
By Adam Gold
Adam Gold is
program director of the Triangle's "850
the Buzz" and host of "The G-spot with Adam Gold."
The thrill ride fit for
By Adam Gold
All rights reserved.
When I was a boy,
growing up in the northeast, my dad used to take me to Coney Island to
ride the Cyclone. One of the first roller coasters in the United States
and the most famous to this day, the Cyclone was built in 1927 and still
stands on the far western tip of Brooklyn.
Now there are literally
thousands of roller coasters in the country. From Space Mountain in Walt
Disney World in Florida, to the Beast and Son of Beast at Kings Mountain in
Ohio, to the Kingda Ka at Six Flags in Jackson, New Jersey, the thrill rides
keep getting bigger and faster and more stomach-churning.
The Kingda Ka, built just
3½ years ago, is 45 stories tall and the trains reach a top speed of 128
miles per hour. But, unlike other thrill-rides, that speed is at the
beginning – before the big drop. Imagine, accelerating from a dead stop to
128 miles per hour in just 3.5 seconds, and then using that momentum to
climb to the ride’s apex before a twisting, turning, seemingly
out-of-control return to the earth before the train levels, traverses
another smaller hill and screeches to a halt, all in 28 seconds.
Oh, that’s right — you’re
all East Carolina football fans. You’ve been on this ride. Only yours
started the last Saturday in August in Charlotte, North Carolina and came to
an end the first Saturday in December in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The only thing the Kingda
Ka has that the 2008 ECU football season didn’t: 4-5 G-forces, though I’m
not entirely certain that some of you didn’t consider hurling yourself off a
cliff after a season with such unbelievable promise nearly imploded among a
string of disappointing results.
Like the Ka, the Pirates’
season came out of the chute with a blast, blocking a Virginia Tech punt and
returning it for the winning touchdown in the closing minutes of
the season-opener in Charlotte. A
beating of West Virginia ensued
snatched victory from the jaws of defeat
at Tulane and visions of BCS games were dancing beneath purple and gold
Then came the 270-degree
twisting plunge back to terra firma as the Pirates lost three straight
games, the first of which was
at the hands of their most-hated cousin,
N.C. State, and it was a setback that likely melted away the icy confidence
that Skip Holtz’ team displayed the first three weeks. Suddenly, the Pirates
were 3-3, and forget about a BCS game, some were wondering if they’d ever
win again! That’s the nature of college football.
a convincing win over Memphis, a
school that had been to bowl games in five of the last six years (and would
ultimately make it six in seven this season), did little to help smooth over
the scars of what became of the dream season.
The Pirates struggled to
a pair of overtime wins against second-division clubs, and then
got hammered by Southern Miss on the
road. And, even though ECU was still virtually assured of winning the
Eastern Division, Pirate Nation was bent over the railing heaving what was
left of the great start.
Fortunately, the ride
wasn’t over. Unlike the Kingda Ka, East Carolina’s time wasn’t up after 28
seconds. The Pirates
scratched out a win in Birmingham to
clinch a spot in the
conference championship game, warmed
a rout of Texas-El Paso on Senior
Day, and arrived in Tulsa the underdog – which, in retrospect, might be just
how ECU likes it – and
pillaged the Golden Hurricane
offense for five interceptions and seven total turnovers.
When the last
interception settled into the arms of Van Eskridge and the final seconds
drained off the clock, the reality and satisfaction of being champions of
Conference USA finally began to register.
The 14-week ride has
finally come to a stop. And, it’s pretty clear that the steep climb, the
sudden plunge and the ups and downs that followed along the tracks were
worth it. Because I’m sure that there isn’t a person living in Pirate
Nation that wouldn’t want to climb aboard again.
See you in Memphis on
January 2 for the happiest of New Year’s celebrations.
A MESSAGE TO ADAM GOLD
• DIG INTO ADAM GOLD'S ARCHIVES
12/08/2008 03:37:46 AM