On The Road Again

by Billy Weaver

There's a segment of the Skip Holtz Show called "Extra Points." It's where we ask ECU players a "Question of the week." This week's question was "What do you like or dislike about road games?" I was a little surprised that nearly all the players responded negatively to playing games on the road. The responses ranged everywhere from crowd noise to having golf balls thrown at the players. Check out the coaches show Sunday at noon for the others.

Hitting the road to cover the Pirates away from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is actually what I look forward to the most. First of all, it's a chance to see other stadiums around the country and soak in the atmosphere of college football from a whole different perspective be it positive or negative. This week it's Mountaineer Field in West Virginia. The Mountaineers play in a beautiful sixty-thousand seat facility that's enclosed on both ends. Something I'd love to see at ECU in the near future. As for the Mountaineer fans, they don't get any nastier! Let's just say it's a place you wouldn't want to take your young kids.

Believe it or not the best thing about the road games is the actual travel arrangements. When you travel with the team, you get treated like a king.

All flights are on 747's that leave directly from Pitt-Greenville Airport so there's no driving to Raleigh or taking a "puddle jumper" to Charlotte. The flight is chartered so it's all business and you don't have some aggravating old lady sitting next to you that wants to know your life story.

Then there's the food. When you board the plane a grocery bag of food and a few beverages await you at your seat. In each bag is usually two subs, an apple, banana, chips and a king size candy bar. Football players eat a lot!

Takeoff is usually an adventure since the runway at Pitt-Greenville wasn't exactly built to send off a 747. But somehow we always get off the ground. Depending on the destination, in this case West Virginia, it's usually a relatively short direct flight. No layovers!

Landing at our destination is when it gets real fun. Three buses and a number of police escorts await the plane on the tarmac. Luggage is immediately loaded on the buses and before you know it we're off to the hotel behind an army of blue lights. It makes you feel like a rock star.

The hotel accommodations on the road are usually top-notch. After check in, it's time to eat again. Football players need more food! The players then head to meeting rooms and eventually off to bed. The rest of us usually take in the sights and sounds of the city. Trips to New Orleans, Miami, Houston and Tampa are among the favorites. As for West Virginia, the good news is that we don't actually spend the night in Morgantown. We stay in Washington, Pennsylvania which is only 28 miles from Pittsburgh. Not a bad city at all.

The following morning breakfast is served. Football players gotta eat! Then it's aboard the buses where we are escorted by police to the stadium.

Following the game we eat again. Players REALLY need food then! After interviews and showers it's aboard the buses for a third time with yet another escort straight to the airport. No traffic, no terminals, no fuss.

As we board the plane back to Greenville, another grocery bag awaits us in the seats. By now I already have a bag of uneaten food that will last me the rest of the week. After a short flight back to Greenville it's back home, hopefully celebrating a Pirate victory.

So for me, the road is absolutely wonderful.

I can't wait to travel to SMU, Tulsa and Marshall this season. Three places this group of Pirates and I have never been.

Billy Weaver