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View from the East
Thursday, August 15, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Misplaced blame muddies Friday football dispute


Want to know who is really at fault for the concern from high school interests about the Cincinnati-East Carolina football game being moved from Saturday, Nov. 2 to Friday, Dec. 6?

It’s not East Carolina athletic director Mike Hamrick. There was a recently-instituted policy against Friday night games but the bottom line for Hamrick is finances and the opportunity for additional revenue couldn’t be denied. The NCAA opened the door last year by approving Friday as a game night.

The relationship Hamrick has developed with ESPN officials will likely be rewarded with a televised home basketball game in Conference USA this season. ECU will probably get a televised football game next season, too, as a result of agreeing to play the Dec. 6 game this season.

ECU helps the North Carolina High School Athletic Association by hosting the Eastern Regionals in basketball. The Pirates allow the prep playoffs to be held at Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum and, if necessary, the ECU basketball teams adjust their practice schedules. The corporate community raises $45,000 to $50,000 to support the high school regionals in Greenville.

It’s disappointing that the NCHSAA chose not to involve ECU as a site for the state championship football games while allowing N.C. State and Wake Forest the opportunity to host state title games in its expanded playoff format. The reason ECU wasn’t involved is supposedly geographics, but Wake Forest is almost as far west of the state’s midpoint as ECU is to the East.

With eight state champions to be decided, the NCHSAA could put two title games each at ECU, UNC, NCSU and Wake. Which classifications are played at which site wouldn’t have to be decided until the semifinals are complete. If, for instance, Williamston was involved in the state final and it was the East’s turn to host in that classification, the game could be played at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Games could be slotted to minimize travel for the hosting regional champion, East or West, and the NCHSAA would benefit with increased attendance when more fans could conveniently get to the game. The teams would get to play in a big-time college atmosphere and the NCHSAA could avoid the “cattle drive” scenario when it has played three state title games in one day at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill.

But getting back to the culprit for the rift generated between ECU and the high school structure. The ultimate blame goes to the Bowl Championship Series and the television money which propagates it.

If the BCS involved all of the Division I-A conferences and the ample revenue was distributed more evenly, Hamrick could afford to turn down the money for a Friday night date. Better yet, use the bowl structure for a 16-team playoff.

The current system is archaic and as long as there are questions about who belongs in the national championship game based on polls and computer formulas, there will be questions about which team is truly the national champion.

It’s unlikely that ECU’s Friday night game will drastically affect high school playoff attendance. It may hurt the Pirates at the gate more. Fans who have to choose between the preps and the Pirates can take a radio to the high school game, listen on the ECU network and/or set the VCR at home to tape the ECU game on ESPN 2. They won’t have the same options for a high school game if they go see the Pirates.

High schools, particularly in Wake County, have played a lot of varsity games on Thursday nights, often in competition with a college football game on ESPN that night, but little concern has been expressed about the effect of the televised game on attendance at those high school games.

Little was said when ACC basketball teams played on Friday night last season in conflict with the first round of the high school football playoffs. UNC and State both played at home that night, Friday, Nov. 16.

Logan preaching the dangers of Duke

ECU football coach Steve Logan is doing all he can to keep his team from taking Duke lightly in the season opener in Durham at 6 p.m. on Aug. 31. The Blue Devils have a much-publicized 23-game losing streak, but Logan points out that the 2002 Duke team is 0-0 with lots of eager young underclassmen and just two seniors.

“There’s a point when you bottom out and begin to improve,” Logan said. “From the logical indicators, it’s conclusive that they’re getting better.”

Duke also has a new defensive coordinator and that situation is similar to the new coaching staff that came in at Wake Forest, ECU’s season-opening opponent, last season.

“We have no idea what [Duke] is going to do,” Logan said. “They know what we’re going to do. The only sure thing that exists now is that they’re a young team. I’m positive in that fact. And young kids are hungry. I’m telling our kids every day that Duke is going to be good.

“They can dig out a 1996 ECU film and see what we do. That’s good news and bad news. Pat Dye once told me that good teams have tendencies. Bad teams don’t because they aren’t consistent enough.”

On the fifth day of three-a-days ...

“I’ve been pleased with what we’ve done so far,” Logan said before heading out to the afternoon session on Wednesday. “I think the program has provided us with a good, solid foundation. We’ve graduated kids and we’re back out there doing what we do without any big hiccups.”

Outside linebacker Christshawn Gilliam and flex end Ben Thomas have both rolled ankles in the early sessions. Tutu Moye may step in at the flex end.

Junior college transfer Richard Moton has arrived to help immediately in the secondary.

“He’ll get on the field,” Logan said of Moton. “We’re pleased with what we’ve been seeing with him. He’s physical and fluid, a big guy who runs well.”

Ole Miss in Greenville

On good authority from a little birdie: Ole Miss will play a men’s basketball game at ECU this season. The schedule should be announced later this week.

Hot rumor

An announcement of a $1 million dollar pledge for the baseball stadium may be imminent. The Pirates Club has been cultivating some interests with deep pockets and someone may be ready to step up to the plate. Naming rights for the field were going for $1 million. Naming rights for the stadium were priced at $1.5 million.

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02/23/2007 12:57:35 AM

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