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Notes, Quotes and Slants

Pirate Notebook No. 248
Tuesday, July 19, 2005

By Denny O'Brien

Anti-Logan obsession a puzzling phenomenon


A strange thing happened last Tuesday during my afternoon commute. Very strange.

After a quick scan of the local AM stations, I was greeted by a familiar voice from seasons past. It was former East Carolina coach Steve Logan, who for the first time since the 2002 season was fielding questions from the host of a popular Triangle sports call-in show.

The same Steve Logan who for years was a cultural icon Down East for aggressively hoisting the region's super-sized burden. The same Steve Logan who oddly has become a source of contention within a fan base that once was woven so tightly that the sharpest dagger could not pierce it.

It was him, with that unique blend of Southern drawl and Oklahoma twang. And as usual, it was him refuting the fairness of the Bowl Championship Series and pinpointing how it has destroyed the fabric of college football and led to the decline of many programs such as the one for which he once was responsible.

To a certain degree, his responses made it seem as if his right knee still belonged to that familiar patch of Bagwell Field turf down the sideline from his team. As such, I prepared for the passionate outcry from the anti-Logan contingent expressing indignation at his gall in deciding to return to the public eye.

On cue, the e-mails and anonymous message board posts poured faster than a pitcher of sweet tea on a sweltering southern day.

Some expressed anger for the man they once embraced. Some pledged indifference to his mere existence. Others proclaimed their interest in the candid, entertaining responses for which he was famous throughout his ECU tenure.

Surprisingly there were no accusations that his public reemergence was strategically plotted to undermine East Carolina in some farfetched fashion.

It's that mindset — and the small minority that subscribes to it — that has baffled me since the day Logan was dismissed from ECU. Baffling because that line of thinking typifies the kind of outlandish conspiracy theories some have constructed as self-justification for their support of his firing.

There's the one about how Logan stopped recruiting top talent as a means for undermining then-athletics director Mike Hamrick. Or how he conspired with Charlie Adams and North Carolina high school coaches to get the embattled AD fired.

Then there's my personal favorite — his insistence on draining East Carolina of its last dime out of spite for how he was treated in connection with his dismissal.

While Logan wasn't without fault, he certainly isn't guilty of the many charges he has unfairly faced from vocal detractors within the faction he once labeled the 'lunatic fringe.' Every decision he made — whether the outcome was good or bad — was motivated by what he felt was ultimately best for East Carolina.

Naturally, there will be those who contend that the sole purpose for these thoughts is to resurrect Logan's image and return the focus of the ECU constituency back to the decisions that were made during and following the 2002 season.

If that were the case, such motives would be construed by yours truly as irresponsible and divisive given the new leaf East Carolina has turned under the leadership triumvirate of Steve Ballard, Terry Holland, and Skip Holtz.

But it couldn't be further from the truth.

After seven-plus months under Holtz's leadership, my gut feeling is that the football program again appears to be on solid footing. Holtz seems to have a firm handle of the recipe that is required given the Pirates' unique situation, and has the clout, enthusiasm, and fan appeal the program desperately needs.

Though it is too early to tell, the early signs point towards him having a successful run during a critical period in ECU football history. If that indeed is the case, Holtz very well could etch his name among the other coaching greats who preceded him.

And rest assured that Logan stands firmly within that category. A résumé that includes the most wins and bowl appearances in school history cements that much.

Even more important is the fact that he ran a program free of blemishes, graduated players at a nationally visible rate, and helped plant a ministry within the athletics program that changed the lives of many student athletes.

None of that can be debated. Neither can Logan's place in Pirate football lore or his love for East Carolina and his embrace for the uphill battle it has and always will face.

Whether or not Logan was fired prematurely is a fair argument. But how even the smallest minority can question what Logan meant to ECU — or what he would insist the school and region still means to him — remains a mystery to me.

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02/23/2007 02:00:12 AM

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