TAKE ON PIRATE SPORTS
December 14, 2010
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BRAIN BAILEY SHOW
Monday night's Brian Bailey Show with
guests BRIAN MITCHELL, DONNIE
KIRKPATRICK, CLAY McGUIRE and
Carolina's longest running sports radio
call-in show airs each Monday night at 7
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It’s been a year to
remember for Ruffin McNeill, but the East Carolina head football coach
hopes he'll have one more thing to remember for this 2010 season.
That’s a win over Maryland
in the upcoming Military Bowl in Washington, DC.
“The season was a special
one,” said McNeill at Monday’s bowl press conference at East Carolina.”
“It was our first as a transitional staff. We brought in new
philosophies offensively, defensively and on special teams. We also
brought in personal philosophies and pillars for the program.
"Without the team concept
and one-for-all mentality that we had in our office, none of it would
have been possible.”
McNeill was in a very
reflective mood on Monday.
Last week I wrote that McNeill
was really looking forward to spending the Christmas holiday with his
entire football family. He was in a particular holiday frame of mind on
“I can’t wait,” McNeill
said. “It will really mean a lot to have my family and my football
family all together. It will really be special.”
McNeill’s not the only one
looking forward to the bowl trip.
“We’re going to D.C. to
win the game,” said ECU offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. “That’s the
only thing we are thinking about.”
One thing is certain. The
entire coaching staff under Ruffin McNeill is sold on the idea that this
is a “football family.”
“We choose to run the
program as a family and we will run it as a family,” said McNeill. “I
think that’s the way that works best with us. The kids have adapted to
that. The love there is present. Not just among the kids, but from top
to bottom in the office. Our administrators have done a great job giving
us what we need in order to be successful.”
This 6-6 season has
featured the highs of a win over North Carolina State in overtime, and
the lows of giving up points by the bucket load to Navy and Rice.
ECU defensive coordinator
Brian Mitchell has faced the most heat this season. Mitchell says he
knows this Pirate team can play better on defense, and he hopes the fans
will see that in the upcoming bowl game.
“It’s been frustrating at
times,” said Mitchell. “We’d never make an excuse, but there have been
some key injuries. We’ve struggled with depth. Hopefully we can get
healthier before the bowl game and that will show against Maryland.”
As far as the matchup with
the Terps goes, I still maintain that state of mind will go a long way
in determining a winner in this game.
“Attitude is the whole
key,” said McNeill. “From the first second, our players were excited. We
knew we had obtained bowl eligibility, but to be chosen for a bowl game
is something our kids were excited about. If you could have seen them
when we told them we had been chosen for the Military Bowl, they were so
"The fact the game is in
D.C., only four hours from here, and a drivable trip was exciting. You
could see the smiles on their faces, especially the seniors, but the
young guys, too.”
Maryland goes into the
game as a 7-point favorite. McNeill likes to think his East Carolina
program is an honorary Atlantic Coast Conference member, getting set to
play its fourth opponent from the ACC this season.
The Pirates lost badly to
Virginia Tech and North Carolina. Yet, a closer look reveals that East
Carolina had the lead and was dominating both the Hokies and the Heels
in the first halves of those games.
The Pirates do have that
overtime win over N.C. State. A win in the Military Bowl would bring the
Pirates to .500 against the ACC this season.
The difference between
finishing 6-7 or 7-6 is unbelievable. That’s now the goal for this
Pirate football team. A winning season is the carrot that dangles.
“Now we have finished the
regular season,” he said. "We finished at 6-6. We wanted to finish
stronger. One of the things we talked about as a team was ending strong.
I know as a staff and team we wanted to, but had some mishaps. When you
look at the entire body of work, I was very pleased with how we fought.
"We’ll be fine, trust me
The Pirate Nation will be
outnumbered in RFK Stadium. The team, though, seems to have something to
prove, which should provide dividends when this one is done.
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