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View from the East
Friday, January 23, 2004

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Imaginary bowl spawned real-life results

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There’s no question that East Carolina won the first annual Virtual Bowl, the brainchild of poster Doug Groome.

With John Thompson and the football coaching staff poised to enter the height of the recruiting season, Groome correctly figured last month that ECU was going to be seeking a large number of incoming players from outside the state.

Groome, an ECU grad and financial planner in Charlotte, knew that out of state tuition is significantly higher and conceived a means to generate some additional revenue for the Pirate Club, whose fund-raising efforts largely underwrite the cost of athletics scholarships.

Although ECU wasn’t going to a bowl, as had become more or less a habit for the Pirates in their not-so-distant history, Groome said, ‘Why not sell tickets to an imaginary bowl?’ Posters on the Boneyard had fun with it. Because it was virtual, there were any number of entertaining scenarios — the Beatles and the Rolling Stones appearing at halftime, etc.

Barbecue Bowl and Beach Bowl were among names suggested but Virtual Bowl stuck.

Groome credited Jason Whichard, former president of the Charlotte area Pirate Club chapter, with helping the movement from an organizational standpoint. The event was structured such that tickets were priced at $30 each and the Pirate Club began getting checks from true ECU fans.

Pirate Club executive director Dennis Young said Thursday that over $20,000 had been raised by the impromptu project.

“That was $20,000 we didn’t expect and it helped us set an annual giving record,” Young said.

Assistant Pirate Club director Matt Maloney said the Virtual Bowl pushed the Pirate Club over its annual goal of $3.45 million.

The Pirate Club plans to select a fan from among those who supported the Virtual Bowl to team with Groome and raise the Jolly Roger adjacent to the players’ entrance to Bagwell Field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium from the Murphy Center next season before the first home game with Wake Forest.

The Virtual Bowl was a statement about loyalty and belief in ECU football after a 1-11 season. It reflected the enthusiasm that Thompson succeeded in generating about the program since his arrival despite the dismal record.

“Virtual Bowl ticket sales are a great testament to Pirate fans and their support of our program,” said interim athletics director Nick Floyd. “It shows the true Pirate spirit in going the extra mile to do anything and everything they can to help the program.”

Young had said he would shave his head and Maloney had vowed to get a Mohawk if Virtual Bowl ticket sales reached certain levels. Young’s plateau was a safe $300,000.

“When you put a price on your head like that it’s got to be a pretty high threshold,” Young explained.

It was a heartwarming grassroots display even if it didn’t bring new hairstyles for the Pirate Club brass.

“It was really an enormous amount of money considering there was only a short period of time to promote it and it was during the holiday season,” Groome said. “Hopefully it had a positive impact for players, coaches and fans.”

The Charlotte Business Journal did a blurb on the novel effort. Groome’s preacher at Dillworth United Methodist Church, Duke Ison, even delivered a sermon about turning negatives into positives that was based on the Virtual Bowl.

“Hopefully, we’ll go to a real bowl next year,” Groome said.

The Pirate nation can say a big “Amen” to that.

Two more board the Pirate ship

And speaking of those out of state football scholarships, ECU has added football commitments from running back Chris Johnson of Orlando (Fla.) Olympia High and offensive lineman Chris Sellers of New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, New Mexico.

Johnson is another blur in terms of speed with an electronically-timed 10.62-second 100 meters on his high school resume. He is also the 12th Florida high school player to commit to ECU and showed plenty of potential despite playing in only the last four games of his senior season because of a fractured fibula earlier in the year.

Sellers, who played on the high school level in Newport News, Va., will enter ECU as a junior with the possibility of a redshirt year remaining. The 305-pounder played tackle and tight end in New Mexico Military Institute’s option offense. Incidentally, President George W. Bush visited Sellers’ school in Roswell on Thursday.

With signing day less than two weeks away, the latest pair of verbals brings to 28 the number of players reported by to have committed to joining the ECU recruiting class of 2004.

Greg Vacek: Daily Web Headlines Roundup - 01.23
Al Myatt: View from the East - 01.23
Imaginary bowl spawned real-life results
Nuggets: Notes from ECU and beyond - 01.23
Bonesville: Updated Recruiting Thumbnails - 01.23
Pirate Radio 1250 Audio: Bill Herrion Call-In Show - 01.23
Pirate Radio 1250 Audio: Miller Lite Sports Bar - 01.23
Jon Ellerbe with Allen Thomas, Troy Dreyfus & Tony Catusas
Cable 7 Audio: On Campus with Jeff Charles - 01.23
Guest Tommy Eason, Greg LeFever & Moussa Badianne

Henry Hinton: Henry's Highlights - 01.22
'It's Time' for Seabiscuit encore
Bonesville: Pirates raid Daytona for talent - 01.22
Bonesville: Updated Recruiting Thumbnails - 01.22
Nuggets: Notes from ECU and beyond - 01.22
Pirate Radio 1250 Audio: From The Booth with Jeff Charles - 01.22
Guests Nick Floyd, Brad Soderburg & Chuck Machock
Cable 7 Audio: Midweek Tip-Off with Henry Hinton - 01.22
With Mike Steele & guests Gene Keady & Monte Towe

Brian Bailey: From the Anchor Desk - 01.21
Herrion won't bow to ECU hoops hex
Nuggets: Notes from ECU and beyond - 01.21
Bonesville Bytes: Brian Bailey 1-on-1 with Japhet McNeil - 01.21

Denny O'Brien: Pirate Notebook No. 171 - 01.20
Fans hold key to hoops success
Bonesville: Updated Recruiting Thumbnails - 01.20
Bonesville: Updated AP Basketball Poll - 01.20
Nuggets: Notes from ECU and beyond - 01.20
Pirate Radio 1250 Audio: Press Box with Troy Dreyfus - 01.20
Panelists Brian Bailey, Jody Jones & Jim Gentry
Pirate Radio 1250 Audio: Locker Room with Kevin Monroe - 01.20
With Sean Farmer & guests Matt Graves & Courtney Willis
Cable 7 Audio: Brian Bailey Show - 01.20

Al Myatt: View from the East - 01.19
ECU football looks to Gators for 'strength'
Nuggets: Notes from ECU and beyond - 01.19
Bonesville: C-USA Standings & Scoreboard - 01.19
Keith LeClair: From The Dugout - 01.18

Pitch for pitch with Nick Schnabel
Bonesville: Cougs add chapter to Pirates' road hex - 01.18

Nuggets: Notes from ECU and beyond - 01.18

C-USA office moving to Dallas

Conference USA’s pending move of its league office from Chicago to Dallas makes sense from the standpoint of geography. With DePaul and Marquette moving to the Big East, the Windy City is no longer within the league’s periphery.

There will be significantly more C-USA members in Texas than any other state when realignment is completed for 2005-06. C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky has maintained a residence in Dallas since following Mike Slive as the league’s CEO. Dallas is a transportation hub so the transition, due to be completed by July, should be seamless.

AD search committee meets today

The ECU athletics director search committee will meet this afternoon. The committee plans to go into closed session immediately after convening in order to review, discuss and evaluate candidates for the position, according to the the university news bureau.

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02/23/2007 12:44:53 AM

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