Insights from Brett
Friday, November 7, 2014

By Brett Friedlander

Hard lesson learned the hard way

Key targets still ahead, but the big one got away

American Football Schedule


Memphis 16, Temple 13 (ESPNU)
SMU at Tulsa, 12 pm (CBSSN)
UConn vs. Army*, 3:30 pm (CBSSN)
   *Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
Tulane at Houston, 3:30 pm (ESPNU)
LAST WEEK'S AAC SCORES >>> ..... | Friday > Memphis 40, Tulsa 20 (ESPNU) ..... Cincinnati 38, Tulane 14 (ESPN2) ..... | Saturday > Temple 20, ECU 10 (ESPNN) ..... UConn 37, UCF 29 (CBSSN) ..... Houston 27, USF 3 (ESPNN) ..... .....


Pirates regroup from Philly fumbles

Al Myatt

The 24-hour rule that serves as a buffer between games expired Sunday after East Carolina's 20-10 loss at Temple on Saturday. The span increased to 48 hours and then 72 hours before the Pirates finally got back on the practice field Wednesday. ... More from Al Myatt...



15 Questions for Terry Whisnant

Akeem Richmond may be gone but Terry Whisnant is set to continue East Carolina's outside shooting prowess. Whisnant transferred from Florida State after averaging 2.1 points and 7.7 minutes for a Seminoles team that won the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament his freshman year. His numbers at FSU improved to 5.2 points and 17.2 minutes as a sophomore when he made 35.6 percent of his 3-point tries. ... More from W.A. Myatt...

Pictured: ECU junior Terry Whisnant is ready for action after sitting out a year under NCAA transfer rules. The Cherryville native played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Florida State. His skill at shooting from long range is expected to be a key asset for the Pirates as they make their debut in the American Athletic Conference. (ECU Media Relations photo)




Inside Game Day | Coach Ruff Post-game Audio...

AAC SCOREBOARD >>> ..... | Friday > Memphis 40, Tulsa 20 (ESPNU) ..... Cincinnati 38, Tulane 14 (ESPN2) ..... | Saturday > Temple 20, ECU 10 (ESPNN) ..... UConn 37, UCF 29 (CBSSN) ..... Houston 27, USF 3 (ESPNN) ..... .....

Owls become Temple of Doom

Al Myatt

PHILADELPHIA — The statistics told a convoluted tale after 60 minutes of college football at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, on Saturday. When East Carolina outgains an opponent 432 to 135 in total yardage, the assumption would be that the Pirates won handily. ... More from Al Myatt...

CHILLY PHILLY: Fans were sparse on Saturday at the East Carolina-Temple game in dreary Philadelphia. Road games before meager crowds have typically created a difficult environment for the Pirates to perform well, a scenario that was punctuated as the Owls took advantage of penalties and weather-assisted turnovers to deal ECU its first American Athletic Conference loss in the cold, rainy conditions at Lincoln Financial Field. The announced attendance at the 69,176-seat home of the NFL's Eagles was 22,130. [Al Myatt photo]

Audio: Ruff Post-game

ECU coach Ruffin McNeill spoke with the press after the Pirates' upset loss to Temple on Saturday (recorded by Al Myatt; file photo): Select audio clip...


Kevin's Keys to the Game

East Carolina will face off against the 4-3 Temple Owls in Philadelphia today. It will mark the first time the Pirates meet an American Athletic Conference team with a winning record and it will also be their toughest league test to date. ... More from Kevin Monroe...



'Body of work' will matter at the end

There is a reason the FCS football playoff and NCAA basketball tournament committees do not publish weekly polls. College Football Playoff organizers state the early rankings are to “condition the public” prior to the final Dec 7 rankings. ... More from Greg Vacek...


By Brett Friedlander
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View ECU's 2014 football schedule


One game does not a season make, or so the saying goes. And in the strictest sense of the word, East Carolina’s season didn’t actually end as a result of last Saturday’s stunning, self-inflicted 20-10 loss at Temple.

As coach Ruffin McNeill and his players will point out ad nauseum between now and the time they travel to Cincinnati to play the Bearcats next Thursday night, there are still goals to accomplish and a potential American Athletic Conference championship to chase.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the Pirates may never have suffered a more damaging defeat or wasted a greater opportunity than the one they fumbled away in the cold and rain of Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field.

The first tangible sign of that came less than 24 hours after the final whistle when ECU fell out of both major national polls. The second came a day later when quarterback Shane Carden, fresh off a pedestrian 24 of 41, 217-yard performance, failed to make the list of semifinalists for the Maxwell Award – symbolic of the nation’s best college player.

And the fallout has only just begun.

As disheartening as Saturday’s loss might be now, the full effect of the damage it caused won’t fully be realized until late December and early January. That’s when the Pirates, even if they win out through the end of the regular season, will be playing against a .500 ACC team in a second-tier bowl in a half-empty stadium while former Conference USA rival Marshall and its star quarterback Rakeem Cato capture the nation’s attention against an SEC team in the Peach, Cotton or Fiesta.

Think that’s not a big deal?

Ask Central Florida and Blake Bortles what last year’s Fiesta Bowl win against Baylor did for them.

Opportunities such as this, the kind that ECU and its fans have dreamed about forever, are worth far more than the million dollar payouts the so-called “Access Bowls” offer and they don’t come along often. Considering the makeup of the Pirates’ roster, with seniors at virtually every important position, there’s no telling when – if ever – they’ll get another realistic shot at being the nation’s highest-ranked non-Power Five team.

So what went wrong?

You can blame it on the weather, a fractured schedule that may have helped throw ECU off its rhythm, complacency or just plain bad luck. They may all have been contributing factors.

The one thing that is not in dispute is that the Pirates have no one but themselves to blame for a loss that in retrospect, was only a matter of time in coming.

Despite going 3-0 to start their AAC schedule, they haven’t been the same team since their emotional 70-41 thrashing of rival North Carolina all the way back on Sept. 20.

First they let a dreadful Southern Methodist team stick around for three quarters before finally putting the Mustangs away with an uninspired effort. A week later, they fell behind South Florida 17-7 before Carden rallied his team for three unanswered touchdowns in the second half to win going away.

Then after a second bye in four weeks, the Pirates had to score twice in the fourth quarter to again narrowly escape an upset – this time against a UConn team whose only win to that point was a three-point squeaker against Stony Brook.

Saturday, ECU’s luck finally ran out despite outgaining its opponent whopping 428-135 margin.

Afterwards, McNeill and his players said all the right things when asked to put the damaging loss into perspective – spinning it as only a temporary setback in the context of a long season.

But you know what they say about actions speaking louder than words.

From the way the players were hitting each other at practice on Wednesday, the Pirates’ first workout since returning from their Temple of Doom, the enormity of the opportunity they’ve wasted may finally have begun to sink in.

“I don’t feel like we were ourselves for the past couple of weeks,” wide receiver Isaiah Jones said. “We almost got in this complacent setting where everything was just going right. The mindset wasn’t there and that loss really humbled us. That’s what a loss does to you sometimes.

"We’re back. We’re that team that has that chip on their shoulder again. Our backs are kind of up against the wall right now. Everything that we want to accomplish is ahead of us.”

And yet, even if they do go on to run the table, post double-digit victories for the second straight year and raise a championship banner in their AAC debut, the Pirates may still look back at this 2014 season with regret for all the things they could have accomplished and didn’t.

E-mail Brett Friedlander

11/08/2014 01:08 AM