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


Notes, Quotes and Slants

Pirate Notebook No. 91
Friday, November 1, 2002

By Denny O'Brien
Staff Writer and Columnist

Pirate football recruiting impacted by new obstacle



Catch Bonesville's exclusive weekly Internet radio program, BONESVILLE HUDDLE, featuring insightful give-and-take between columnists Al Myatt, Brian Bailey and Denny O'Brien. (Posted on Wednesday each game week for streaming on demand.) Al







Signing day 2003 is certain to have a unique flavor at East Carolina. That is the reality with which Steve Logan is dealing these days.

Logan has worked relentlessly over the last 11 seasons, blending a consistent recipe spiced heavily with the type of down-home flavor that's as sacred to Pirate football as vinegar is to the region's barbecue.

Now, the 11th-year Pirates coach must expand his taste buds and blend a new concoction of athletes who, when the list of signees is released, may seem unfamiliar even to those who feverishly track ECU's recruiting efforts.

It's not that Logan has altered his palate, but the menu available to him has been drastically changed.

Had he his druthers, Logan would just as soon pluck high school talent from his own back yard rather than explore regions where more high-profile programs have already established supremacy. That commitment is what helped germinate strong bonds between Logan and area high school coaches, something about which Logan spoke proudly last February.

"It's real gratifying the reception we get from the coaches here in this state, and the local coaches in particular," he said at the time "They now want to see their kids play here.

"They know that they can jump in the car and come up here and watch the kids play. That's a trust relationship that has cultivated over a 13-year period now. We're real careful to keep cultivating that."

Apparently East Carolina wasn't careful enough.

When the school reneged on a pledge to avoid Friday night play and fumbled the public relations aspects of the move, high school executives and many high school coaches threatened to turn their backs on ECU, even though Logan, like them, was reportedly blind-sided by the broken promise.

As it turns out, it wasn't a bluff, as several high schools have removed their welcome mats, while some coaches have returned blank tapes to the ECU football office in lieu of footage featuring potential prospects. Though deemed an innocent bystander by those giving him the cold shoulder, Logan has now come to the realization that he must develop a new recruiting philosophy to replace the one he's spent more than a decade developing.

The sudden, but necessary, shift in gears is likely to have a negative impact on the lives of a number of Down East high school athletes who were on ECU's radar and who may not receive Division I-A offers.

The new equation directly influences the direction of East Carolina's future recruiting strategy, which under Logan has embraced Leo Jenkins' vision of using regional resources to impact the national scene.

"If it's Eastern North Carolina, we find reasons to bring them here rather than reasons to not bring them," Logan said not long ago. "If it's an Eastern North Carolina kid, we're just going to look, and look, and look for ways to fit a guy like that in the program.

"Even if we don't need that particular position, if he's a local kid, we're going to try to work him into the program."

Where next?

Some have suggested that the North Carolina ban is actually a Godsend, forcing Logan to fish deeper ponds packed with bigger catches. The question is, where can East Carolina suddenly establish itself as a recruiting force, considering the bevy of heavy hitters which have laid claim to the premiere high school markets?

Florida is the obvious first choice to cast a recruiting line, but the Sunshine state already has a lengthy pecking order of attractive suitors. After Florida, Florida State, and Miami pack it in, out-of-state big dogs get their day at the beach, followed by up-and-coming South Florida and Central Florida, both of which have rosters lined with in-state talent.

Though Florida is widely considered home to the cream of the high school crop, Texas, which annually produces 300-plus Division-I signees, isn't far behind. Competition in the Lone Star state is even tougher, though, with more local options for athletes, who quite frankly, would just as soon suit up in SMU blue as ECU purple.

There are areas in which Logan has had success, however, just not on a wide-scale basis.

The Tidewater Virginia region, for example, has produced key contributors over the years, but it is unrealistic to expect East Carolina to use it as its primary target base. Logan has proven in the past that he can, on occasion, go head-to-head with Frank Beamer and reel in a keeper, but in reality, those aren't battles he can expect to win with any regularity, especially considering the siren song of recruiters from Virginia Tech and Virginia.

The Hokies and Cavaliers have a legitimate shot at a national title year-in and year-out, while the most Logan can advertise is the chance at a Conference USA title and a trip to a second-tier bowl.

That's the ceiling under which Logan and ECU football currently reside.

Never know what you're gonna get

To remain competitive while recruiting new territories, Logan may have to tweak his approach.

It is well-documented that scholarship offers from the Pirates coach can be short-lived if not immediately accepted and steadfastly honored, a method that has been criticized by few in Logan's jurisdiction. However, it's unlikely Logan will get the same reception from outsiders, who could misconstrue his sincere gesture as an ultimatum.

In all fairness, though, you could hardly blame a high school coach for making such a perception if a previous relationship between the two has yet to be established.

Issues such as academics and character may also need loosening, perhaps even with Logan adopting a take-what-you-can-get attitude. Such methodology would be a deliberate shift in the ideals on which he built the program, one that now consists of a roster of boy scouts who excel in the classroom.

Proximity must also be considered, which down the road could rear its ugly head. It's not uncommon for a young boy to become homesick and succumb to a yearning to return to familiar surroundings.

Chuck Amato can attest to that.

Nonetheless, that may very well be one of many future issues Logan faces as he works diligently to piece together the shattered relationship between East Carolina and its neighboring high schools.

And that could be a long, drawn out process.

Send an e-mail message to Denny O'Brien.

Click here to dig into Denny O'Brien's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 01:46:31 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.