ARTICLE OF THE DAY

The North Pole Report
by Brian North
9/26/06

ECU's bye week gives me a chance to step back and evaluate the first month of football. Here are some observations from the North:

*The Pirates are headed in the right direction. ECU's record says 1-3, but the young talented players are getting better, and the potential is there for the Pirates to have a great second half of the season. But that is only if they continue to get better. They are not there yet, but Skip Holtz and his staff seem to have found some solid combinations on defense, and if the offensive line comes around, ECU could return to national respectability.

*John Bunting is in trouble. I have defended the Tarheel coach for six years, but after UNC's embarrassing loss at Clemson, I am having trouble saying he should still keep his job. Bunting is one of the nicest men you will ever meet, he shoots straight, and he bleeds Carolina blue. He has had very good recruiting classes and seems to have all the tools at his disposal to produce winning seasons, but the on field product lacks consistency, and the head coach is ultimately responsible and must be held accountable. Bunting has had some big wins, but that has been leveled out with some bad losses.

*Chuck Amato seems to have nine lives. Just when it looks like Chuck the Chest is about to sit on the hot seat, NC State gets a big win. Last year the Pack had an abysmal start to the season, but Andre Brown kick started the offense and they ended up in a bowl game. Is Daniel Evans this year's savior in Raleigh? Evans is off to a great start, and could give NCSU its first real passing threat since Philip Rivers had his number retired.

*Does Duke still have a football team? In a related note, the ACC is down this year. I know they lost 51 players to the NFL draft, but didn't they expand to become a better football conference (and thus make more money)?  Virginia Tech looks like the leagues best team, and just think, they weren't even the ACC's first choice to defect from the Big East. Imagine if Syracuse had been voted in.

*Do replay officials need replay officials? A week after the zebras screwed up the Oklahoma/Oregon game, a Conference USA official has been suspended because he improperly overturned a fumble call in the Houston/Oklahoma State game. He said forward progress was stopped before the fumble occurred, but that is a judgement call that he is not allowed to make from the booth. Meanwhile an Ohio State defender picked off a pass and spiked the ball before crossing the goal line, but yet was still credited with a touchdown. Everyone in the stadium and watching on TV knew it was a fumble, but yet every official in the stadium missed it. I know officiating isn't easy, but these were pretty simple calls, weren't they?

*I know its early, but there is no dominant team in college football. 15 of the top 25 teams are still undefeated, but no one has been overly dominate. Ohio State is ranked number one and have been impressive at times and Auburn has some good wins, but I just haven't been blown away by anyone yet.

*High school talent in Eastern North Carolina is down a bit this year, but Greenville studs Jonathan Williams (Rose) and Tyrell Worthington (South Central) are worth the price of admission. There are also some good young under classmen that will be highly sought after in the next few years, so the drought won't last long.

*The Panthers are lucky to by 1-2, especially with the way they have shuffled their offensive line around after left tackle Travelle Wharton blew out his knee in the opener. But Carolina is getting better every week, and if Steve Smith can stay healthy, this team still has the ability to be special.

*The Saints are a feel good story, and it is great to see former Pirate Terrence Copper contribute to the healing effort in New Orleans. The Washington, NC native is getting lots of special teams time after getting picked up after being cut by the Cowboys at the end of training camp.

Fall is officially here! The temperatures continue to drop, the leaves will start to change, and games continue to gain in importance. Enjoy the bye week, and lets get ready for an October-fest of football!
 
Brian North
bnorth@wcti12.com