Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather





Put your ad message in front of thousands of Pirate fans. Call 252.349-3280 for information.






From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, August 30, 2011

By Brian Bailey

'Cone of Uncertainty' about to narrow for ECU


Replay Monday night's Brian Bailey Show, featuring guest BRIAN MITCHELL. Eastern North Carolina's longest running sports radio call-in show airs each Monday night at 7 p.m. on Pirate Radio 1250 and 930.
Replay Show
Pirate Radio Home Page


'Cone of Uncertainty' about to narrow for ECU
Details will define ECU's success
Ruff's workouts lead to clothes shopping
Pirates get a jump on game week routine
Burning questions as season approaches


Cliff Perryman
Ben Ryan
Matt Milner
Joe Womack
Michael Dobson
Hugh Parker
Will Simmons
Antonio Allison
Ty Holmes
Marke Powell
Damon Magazu
Michael Barbour
Derek Blacknall
Grant Harner
Justin Jones
Torrance Hunt
Andrew Bodenheimer
Michael Brooks
Lance Lewis
Justin Dixon

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

As Hurricane Irene headed our way last week, the meteorologists kept talking about the “cone of uncertainty.”

That cone was basically the projected path of the storm, give or take several hundred miles on both sides.

I love the phrase. Life itself is basically our own “cone of uncertainty.”

East Carolina certainly heads to Charlotte with its own “cone.” The Pirates open the season as a 20-point underdog to nationally-ranked South Carolina.

The ECU team got through Hurricane Irene missing just a Saturday practice. Coach Ruffin McNeill lost 13 trees at his home, but he and his wife Erlene escaped unharmed.

McNeill opened his first regular season press conference [Select and replay press conference in new window...] with an emotional burst about the Pirate Nation and the hurricane.

“What you’ve seen happen here is what we’ve talked about since I arrived,” said McNeill. “It’s about Pirates helping Pirates. We’ve talked about tradition. I’ve been asked by a few media outlets what East Carolina means to me. It was exemplified by the work done and is still continuing by everybody around. It’s Pirates helping Pirates. It’s pride. It’s tradition. It’s passion. It’s a group facing adversity, looking it square in the eye, hitting it right in the jaw and saying, ‘Bring it on. Want some and get some.’ That’s East Carolina to me. That’s what it’s about.”

For many of us, Hurricane Irene reminds us of 1999 and the “Flood of the Century.”
Coach McNeill wasn’t in Greenville that season, but he sees the similarities — so much so that he decided to show his entire team a film clip from 1999 when the ECU football team was presented with the Disney Spirit Award. (View YouTube film clip in new window.)

“At the end, I told the team that it was not a made-up movie,” said McNeill. “It did not have directors or actors. These were Pirates like you are. Maybe they didn’t sit in this same room, but they donned the purple and gold and played inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.”

Those of us who were fortunate enough to be in Carter-Finley Stadium that night 12 years ago to see the Pirates upset Miami know just how special the evening became. East Carolina's victory over the ‘Canes was more than just a football win. It was a rallying cry for eastern North Carolina. It was also a major step forward in the healing process for the entire region.

“It’s ironic they played South Carolina and got stuck in Columbia for a week before going to Raleigh to play Miami,” said McNeill when asked about the similarities to 1999. “That Hurricanes team had 30 NFL draft choices and 11 first-round picks on the squad. That’s amazing when you think about it.”

McNeill said the players were really focused in on the video from 1999 and in learning more about the history of their program.

Just as Miami presented what seemed to be an impossible assignment in ’99, South Carolina is cast into that role to kick off the 2011 campaign.

Steve Spurrier is in his seventh year at South Carolina. He has his Gamecocks as the pick to win the SEC East Division.

Most of the ink goes to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and running back Marcus Lattimore for the Gamecocks. McNeill has different concerns.

“Their offensive line concerns me,” said McNeill. “It always starts there. They do a great job up front working together as a unit."

ECU will unveil its new 3-4 defensive alignment on Saturday night. Most feel the unit will be much improved this season, but that improvement may take a while.

The Pirates feel like they can score on any team in the country. It sounds like Coach McNeill is expecting a high scoring game as well.

“(Stephen) Garcia understands just what Coach Spurrier wants,” explained Coach McNeill. “It’s just like Dominique (Davis) understands what Lincoln (Riley) and we want. Garcia understands the concepts, when to audible to a run and where and when to deliver the football. Garcia has a great target in Jeffery, as we do in Lance Lewis. Both will be wearing No. 1 in the game.”

The closer Hurricane Irene got to our coast, the smaller that “cone of uncertainty” became.

It’s the same with the football season and the Pirates' own cone of uncertainty. We’ll know so much more a week from now.


E-mail Brian Bailey.

Brian Bailey Archives

08/30/2011 04:32 AM


©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.