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Nuggets of Gold
Thursday, November 5, 2009
By Adam Gold
Adam Gold is program director of the Triangle's "850 the Buzz" and host of "The G-spot with Adam Gold."

Risky game at a risky time

By Adam Gold
All rights reserved.

Under normal circumstances, Thursday night ought to be a great opportunity for East Carolina’s football program.

A national television audience, a nationally ranked — and beatable — opponent in Virginia Tech, and a chance to show off the all-purple uniforms (just playing a hunch here).

But, these are anything but normal circumstances. The 2009 East Carolina Pirates would be a lot better served with a game against some directional school than with a knockdown, dragout affair with the Hokies.

Remember, I said that these are not normal circumstances.

When the season began, there were a lot of different goals for these Pirates. Some were talking about the prospect of ECU being a BCS buster. Others were talking about a Top Ten ranking, and all Pirate fans were hoping for a second straight Conference USA championship.

Well, busting up the Bowl Champsionship Series party was tossed into the New River when the Pirates walked the plank at West Virginia, and thoughts of the Top Ten were flushed into the Neuse when ECU made T.J. Yates look like Joe Montana in Chapel Hill.

The silver lining inside that little black rain cloud, however, was that it brought into clear focus the lone remaining goal: winning Conference USA.

Eleven months ago, ECU brought home the league trophy for the first time. This year, the East Division — and a spot in the title game — are once again there for the taking as the Pirates open the November portion of the schedule.

All they need to do is to stay healthy. And that is why this game is so risky.

In most seasons, the Pirates would be playing this game in September, before the craziness of the season’s final month kicked off. In a normal year, this is a statement game matching the little guy with a chip on his shoulder against the big guy looking to swat away the proverbial fly.

Under ordinary circumstances, this game would have a lot more meaning for the underdog.

But remember, these are not normal circumstances because East Carolina has bigger snapper to broil (sorry, I just can’t get with calabash).

The Pirates' entire focus has to be on the final three league games. Next week’s game against Tulsa is 25 times more important than Thursday night’s primetime affair in Greenville. The following Saturday’s game at home against UAB is even more vital, and the regular season finale against arch-rival Southern Miss is even bigger.

That’s not to say that there are no positives to be achieved Thursday night. East Carolina could win the game, show off to the college football-watching masses, escape unscathed and carry an enormous amount of momentum into the final three games.

And, with nothing to lose, this game allows Skip Holtz and company to really throw the playbook wide open and have fun with the offense, though I realize that East Carolina and wide open offense are mutually exclusive terms.

I just wish this game was more cupcake than statement. Because in order to reach the most important goals left on the table, East Carolina is going to need to win the final three a lot more than Thursday night.

In most cases, beating the Hokies is probably better than sweeping the Golden Hurricane, Blazers and Golden Eagles. But these are not normal circumstances.



11/05/2009 02:26:07 AM

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