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The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, September 17, 2008

By Bethany Bradsher

Wading through the media fog

By Bethany Bradsher
All rights reserved.

It’s certainly a mixed bag, this business of getting noticed.

Here’s the thing the Pirate Nation does extremely well: plow through the season under the radar, winning and celebrating, losing and commiserating and making plenty of memories.

The East Carolina faithful are accustomed to carrying out this routine by themselves, not under the watchful eye of every media outlet in the United States.

Yet in this age of 24-7 access and updates, everyone in and around Greenville should have seen it coming. ECU turns in its strongest start in decades, toppling national powerhouses, and suddenly the Pirates are getting print and digital shout-outs from coast to coast.

A scan of some of the most prominent stories of the past week reveals touches of hyperbole, sentimentality, thoughtful assessment and even one major typo.

A sampling, along with my completely pointless distinctions:

Most Likely to Leave a Party Before it Even Gets Started:

This award goes to the Wall Street Journal, not generally a purveyor of Pirate tales but the publication that, on September 15, referred to “poor East Carolina” in light of the BCS picture. Because Utah and Brigham Young both have more demanding schedules than ECU, the story said, the Pirates will be denied a trip to the big bowls if all three schools run the table.

A nightmarish end to a dream season already seems realistic,” the article said.

Article that Most Frequently Caused the Reader to Ask, “Which Paper am I Reading, Again?”

Always good for a surprise, the student-run Daily Tar Heel in Chapel Hill featured a column that must have rendered some Tar Heel haters a tad speechless.

“The atmosphere there infects you as soon as you step outside on game
day,” the author said of Greenville. “If you join the bandwagon, do so because the people of Greenville deserve a great college football team. They’ve earned it by
providing a great college football environment. And if you ever find yourself at Kenan Stadium watching the football game take a backseat to a meet-and-greet, stand up and yell, 'First Down, Tar Heels … Argh!' Because Chapel Hill could use a healthy dose of piracy.”

Cuddliest Cliché

From USA Today on September 13, the news flash that ECU is “the darling of the 2008 college football season.

The “You’re #1, What’s Your Name Again?” Award

To’s Graham Watson, who placed ECU at the top of her Non-BCS/Independent Power Rankings less than a week after she wrote a Conference USA outlook with a tag on the bottom listing the “East Carolina Panthers” as one of the league’s members.

Invitation to See How Much the Roads to the East Have Improved in 25 Years

This one should be issued to The Charlotte Observer’s Tom Sorenson, a good columnist who wrote a nice piece about the East Carolina spirit, history and barbecue and reminisced extensively about a trip he made to Greenville in 1983.

“You do not drive past the campus on the way to somewhere else,” Sorenson wrote. “You need a reason to go there.”

After a quarter century, maybe Sorenson will find another reason of his own this season.

Best Bulletin Board-Ready Quote

From’s Mark Schlabach: “Make no mistake. East Carolina is a very, very good football team.”

Close second, from the Sept. 16 Orlando Sentinel: “No team in America had a better first two games than Skip Holtz's Pirates.”

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09/22/2008 04:11:12 AM

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