NEWS, NOTES &
Friday, September 29, 2006
By Bethany Bradsher
Bye week may be going,
Twelve-game schedules may
make moot any debate about the pros and cons of off weeks
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I have four kids nine and under, so I thrive on
barely-controlled chaos and I embrace the rare opportunity to step away from
it all. When I get that chance to go out without my kids for an evening or
even a weekend, I sometimes tell them that I will be a better mother after I
have had a break.
But the truth is, sometimes I’m not a more
patient or more consistent mom after I return home from an escape. At times
I realize that I’m even quicker to snap at my kids or to get exasperated
with them, because I have had a pause in my normal routine and
In football, a bye week is the equivalent of a
weekend reunion with my college roommates – it provides a welcome breather
from the routine. But even though us media types tend to hype up the bye
week as a magical cure for what ails a team, the week off is just as likely
to end in a loss as in a victory.
A survey of the Pirates’ past 20 years on the
gridiron turned up 17 bye weeks in those two decades, and only eight of
those 17 led to an East Carolina victory. Four times ECU actually went from
a victory on the game day before the bye to a defeat afterwards. And the
reverse has also been true four times – a Pirate loss simmering slowly and
becoming a win two weeks later.
That last result, of course, is the one the 2006
Pirates aspire to, with a 27-10 loss to West Virginia directly behind them
and a home date with the University of Virginia ahead. In the best-case
scenario, this back-to-basics bye week might yield the type of result
enjoyed by the 1999 Pirates, who went from a 29-22 Southern Miss loss to a
52-7 victory over Tulane.
Obviously, bye weeks are only one of the ripples
that cause the crests and troughs of win-loss records. The talent and
experience of the team, whether a game is home or away, and the strength of
the opponent are all crucial factors.
And even if bye weeks offer no guarantees for
future team success, they are still necessary for the same reason that I
need evenings away from home every once in a while – because rest and
changes in routine are necessary and good even without quantifiable results.
Whether the cause-and-effect relationship
between bye weeks and victories is real or perceived can’t be proved
definitively, but a move away from byes in Division IA will mean fewer
opportunities to provide data. With the move to a 12-game schedule this
summer, teams like those in the Big Ten are playing this season without a
breather. Purdue even has 13 consecutive games with no open date.
For teams like the Pirates, the loss of the bye
week could take away valuable recuperation time for injured players. But the
movement seems to be clear – more games, less dead space on the college
While some big-name
coaches have expressed dissent about the disappearing open date, South
Carolina’s Steve Spurrier thinks that football players should be tough
enough withstand 12 games in row without complaining.
“"I think it's easy to
play 12 games," Spurrier told a college football website. "The Division I-AA
guys, when they get in the playoffs, I think they play 14 or 15. It's no
problem at all for them. I watch basketball, girls' basketball, and they'll
play four straight nights at the SEC tournament. I don't hear them
complaining that they're playing too much."
For 16 years the open
date has been a standby in the NFL, where a longer season makes it even more
necessary than in college.
Even though ECU got in
its requisite 12 games in addition to a bye week this year, the time may be
coming soon when the Pirates will have to say bye-bye, bye. Until then, the
Pirate faithful can hold on to this bye week and hope that it is remembered
as a catalyst that turned a young 1-3 squad into winners.
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02/23/2007 01:13:19 AM