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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, June 15, 2010

By Brian Bailey

Ultimate team player gone but not forgotten

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

Coach Rock Roggeman dies after quiet struggle with cancer.

Yesterday afternoon word came that East Carolina assistant football coach Rock Roggeman had lost his battle with cancer.

Those of us that were lucky enough to know Rock realize what a true football man he was. Life was important, but life was football to Coach Rock.

Roggeman was hard on his players, but his players loved him for it.

In Memphis last season, Rock surprised his defensive lineman by making the trip and showing up at practice. To a man each one of those players gave Rock a hug and the mutual admiration was very evident.

Roggeman was very private about his battle with cancer. It was a battle that had its ups and downs. Roggeman stayed strong through both good and bad reports on his health.

During his battle he wanted no attention whatsoever. He asked the players and coaches to keep the focus on the team. That focus led to a second consecutive Conference USA championship.

As the team celebrated the win over Houston in the league title game, I grabbed Pirate defensive coordinator Greg Hudson for a quick comment.

Hudson had tears streaming down his face. “This was for Rock,” Hudson said as sobbed. “This was for Rock.”

Roggeman made an impact on many in his short time in Greenville. Again, he was a football guy through and through.

Coach, we’ll miss you because you were truly one of a kind!

What’s next in realignment?

Like most in the Pirate Nation, I have watched every conference move, every rumor, and every theory with great interest.

ECU Director of Athletics Terry Holland knew that his job was to put East Carolina in the best position possible when the dominos started to fall. I truly believe that with Holland and Chancellor Steven Ballard, the leadership is in place to find ECU a BCS home.

Those dominos started falling to the west. So far, the east has yet to see a change. But those changes could still be coming.

The problem with all of this is that there is absolutely no known best case scenario for East Carolina to get an invitation to BCS automatic qualifier conference.

That’s not to say there aren’t theories out there. One man’s SEC expansion is another man’s Big 12 implosion.

If the SEC raids the ACC and the ACC then raids the Big East, then what’s left? But then a report came out saying the SEC wouldn’t go after schools in the ACC.

Either way, will there be a slot open in an AQ conference for East Carolina? Will there be a Big East left that’s worthy of an automatic qualifier status?

Talk about a fluid situation. This thing simply changes by the hour.

On Friday, Texas and several other schools from the Big 12 were basically signed, sealed and delivered to the Pac-10. But by Monday afternoon, word was circulating that the Big 12 had a plan to keep Texas with the lure of a huge television deal.

Monday night that deal was done. The Big 12 would stay on, currently with ten schools. Texas apparently played the role of lead dog, and the others followed.

Only in college athletics can the Big 12 include ten teams, while the Big 10 has twelve and the Pac 10 really is eleven.

East Carolina has faced long odds before and flourished. That’s the challenge as we sit here today. Coach Holland has preached the consistent sermon that the Pirate Nation has to do all it can do to be ready.

Holland was right about the Big 12. Maybe he knows something that none of us know.

The coach has the poker face to play in this conference carousel for sure.


E-mail Brian Bailey.

Brian Bailey Archives

08/06/2010 01:56 AM


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