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View from the 'ville
Thursday, August 2, 2007

By Al Myatt

ACC fast-breaking to Minges

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

East Carolina's 2007 football schedule may be its best ever and the basketball schedule sounds like it will be a suitable encore as a pair of ACC teams — Clemson and N.C. State — apparently are headed to Greenville.

The Tigers will be coming in on a Wednesday night in early December, according to a strong source, and the Wolfpack will make the trip the following Saturday.

The Pirates will play more home games in 2007-08 than ever before. Season ticket purchases for hoops may show an increase proportionate to football's record setting numbers now that ECU has some opposition that will drive sales.

The Pirates are 0-53 against the ACC in hoops. ECU does have wins over Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech but not while those programs were ACC members.

Pirate assistant Mack McCarthy has been working on the schedule and appears to have done an outstanding job. The presence of former Virginia coach Terry Holland and the respect he commands certainly has helped ECU upgrade its nonconference opposition.

On the down side of roundball scheduling, the passing of Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser may put the Demon Deacons' series with the Pirates in some doubt. Prosser had committed to a game in Greenville but it is not known whether his successor will honor that agreement.

The Tigers will be the first ACC team to play in Minges Coliseum since South Carolina on Dec. 10, 1969, a contest the Gamecocks won 68-49 in their penultimate season in the power league. John Roche and company went on to finish 14-0 in the ACC under legendary coach Frank McGuire.

South Carolina went 25-3 that season with one of its losses coming at home to a Davidson team with Holland as its first year head coach. Another Gamecocks loss came to N.C. State with Roche hobbled by an ankle injury. The defeat by the Wolfpack in the ACC Tournament final kept McGuire's club from gaining an NCAA berth.

McGuire brought his first team at North Carolina to Greenville in 1952-53 where the Tar Heels posted a 79-66 win the season before the ACC was formed.

Virginia recorded an 88-79 win in Greenville in its lone meeting with the Pirates in the semifinals of the Eastern Carolina Classic on Dec. 27, 1968.

Speculation swirling about Stokes

ECU basketball coach Ricky Stokes went 8-20 in his first season with the Pirates, cleared out much of the returning personnel after that and went 6-24 with a youthful team in 2006-07.

While the contracts of football coach Skip Holtz, women's basketball coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener and baseball coach Billy Godwin have been extended, Stokes has completed the second of a five-year deal with no extension announced.

That means he can't assure recruits he will be around for the entirety of their potential Pirate careers.

Sources outside the university are saying the end is near for Holland's former point guard in terms of his ECU coaching career. Some speculation has it that he will be moved into athletic administration and that McCarthy, a successful former head coach, will guide the program on an interim basis. A source said that Stokes has been seeking a step up to the NBA as an assistant.

Any change in Stokes' status probably wouldn't happen until Holland returns from vacation in Costa Rica at the end of next week.

One ECU official said firmly this week that, "Ricky Stokes is the basketball coach."

Another commented, "There are a lot of rumors going around, but that's what they are — bad rumors."

Pace sets the record straight

When the readers write, they sometimes have it right. Charles E. Pace, class of 1969 at East Carolina, is an example.

It had been reported by myself and others that East Carolina had never won a football game in the state of Alabama but thanks to Mr. Pace, we can amend the record.

Mr. Pace recalled that the Pirates had won a game at Howard College, which is now Samford, "sometime between 1965 and 1968." A consultation with an ECU football media guide proved him correct.

On Nov. 20, 1965, before a crowd of 3,000, the Pirates defeated host Howard, 35-10, according to the media guide and as recorded in's 'Historical Date' pages.

According to its website, Samford changed its name from Howard College to Samford University on Nov. 9, 1965, in honor of Frank Park Samford, chairman of its board of trustees and its leading individual benefactor at the time.

Howard/Samford's biggest day on the gridiron wasn't a win but a 7-7 tie of Alabama in 1935. The Crimson Tide had an end on that team named Paul "Bear" Bryant.

Legion Field in Birmingham has been a tough venue for ECU, including a 24-7 loss to South Florida in the Bowl last season. Howard played the first game at Legion Field on Nov. 19, 1927, defeating rival Birmingham-Southern, 9-0.

Howard began in Marion, Alabama in 1841 before moving to Birmingham in 1887.

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08/06/2007 06:04:27 PM


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