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Pirate Notebook No. 418
Saturday, February 6, 2010

Denny O'Brien

Mea culpa for poor choice of words

By Denny O'Brien
All Rights Reserved.

A recent comment I made on the 94.3-FM morning show, “Talk of the Town,” offended many listeners. After reviewing the statement I made Thursday morning to show host Henry Hinton, I clearly understand why.

In the opening back-and-forth banter with Hinton, I quoted a statement from former East Carolina coach Steve Logan, who once jokingly referred to die-hard fans as “Jock Sniffers.” I quoted him in the context of National Signing Day because I found it humorous, but it is obvious that most don’t share that perspective.

To be clear, when I made the statement, I was not sharing my personal opinion about any segment of the ECU fan base. Not at all. Especially not the fans who invested an entire day to celebrate and show support to the staff members who were responsible for closing the deal with this year’s recruiting haul.

But the fact is I said it — regardless of the intent — and I apologize to everyone who was offended by the remark. The statement offered no value to that radio segment and I wish I could get a mulligan on that specific appearance.

Truthfully, it is fans like those who attended Signing Day festivities that separate East Carolina from its counterparts around the state. It’s what gives ECU a foundation built on a football-first mentality and creates an SEC-like environment in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

And you don’t need purple-shaded lenses to draw that conclusion.

Though I don’t buy into the hoopla of National Signing Day, it has nothing to do with the fans and everything to do with the media buzz that surrounds it. Though the response by fans is what is great about East Carolina athletics, the spin externally doesn’t paint the program in the most positive light.

That’s because the recruiting game is greatly skewed by a mythical star system that has little bearing on how well someone will perform at the next level.

Just look at Chris Johnson and Dwayne Harris, neither of whom was highly rated by recruiting services but both of whom are among the most exciting to ever play at ECU. Then there is “All-World” quarterback Mitch Mustain, the multi-star journeyman who has had no relative impact at the college level.

Guess you can color me the ultimate cynic when it comes to Signing Day and the expectations of incoming 18 year-olds. But that doesn’t mean everyone else can’t enjoy what most consider an exciting day in college athletics.

As for “Jock Sniffers,” rest assured that I would never reference anyone within the ECU fan base as one without also including me. By Logan’s definition, I’d have to consider myself the biggest one of all.

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02/06/2010 03:44 AM

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