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.
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.