Pirates Lack
Memphis Media Respect 
by Eric Gilmore

'Bout time it's August. The magical month in eastern North Carolina has finally arrived. The turn of the calendar means football. High schools have already started practicing. ECU will start formulating their two-deep depth charts when fall practice starts later this week. The NFL is in training camp and start those never-ending preseason games.

August also marks the beginning of the media blitz. Every analyst will have a say and an opinion. Each sportswriter will try to get the best angle for that heartwarming story of the long snapper. Reporters will race back to their respective stations after overhearing the latest scoop of information.

It's the same in Memphis this week. Beale St. is busying hosting the Conference USA media kickoff. Members of the media voted on the players to watch, players of the year and team rankings.

The Pirates finished tied for fifth in the Eastern division with a measly 19 points. ECU tied with UCF, who was the only Division-I team that didn't win a game last season. Marshall, with a first-year coach in Mark Synder, finished ahead of the Pirates.

UTEP and USM were picked to win their respective divisions. USM was followed by UAB and Memphis. Houston was picked second in the Western division with Tulane third. Newcomers Tulsa, Rice and SMU rounded out the Western division.

The ACC, SEC, Mountain West and most other major conferences have already held their media sessions. Several coaches became disgusted with their rankings. Ted Roof, the head coach of Duke and ECU's first opponent, was so mad at the results that he tore up the rankings.

Instead of naming preseason all-conference teams, which is standard, C-USA only named players to watch. Richard Koonce and Chris Johnson were the only ECU representatives on the list. Kudos to those two players who were left off virtually all of the all-conference teams in the preseason publications.

If grouping ECU with UCF wasn't bad enough, they completely forget Chris Moore. Moore has been a defensive anchor for three seasons. His 99 tackles in 2005 led the Pirates.

Punter Ryan Dougherty was another omission. Dougherty was one of the nation's best in net yardage two seasons ago. He suffered a sophomore slump only averaging 41.8 yards.

Women's clinic

The women's clinic hosted by the ECU coaching staff appeared to be a huge success. Women were taught everything from the red zone to actual defense formations. The women also went through one of the experiences that is used to hook recruits. The women heard their names over the PA while running onto the field through the tunnel.

Steve Shankweiler, offensive coordinator, was blasted away by the intelligent questions. For any questions that were unable to be answered, the women were diverted to the phone number of the ECU football office. The women were told to ask for Phil Petty, one of the youngest ECU staffers. Ironically, he also happens to be single.

Eric Gilmore