Still a Season to Remember
by Josh Spence

A wise man once told me, "let us not forget from whence we came."  It may not be perfect English, but as we conclude the football season, the holidays, and begin the transition from 2006 to 2007, the premise couldn't be more appropriate. 

The East Carolina football season didn't have that storybook ending Pirate fans were hoping for, but let's remember how far this team has come.  Skip Holtz has coached 24 games at ECU.  He has won half of them.  Many of the players on the field that helped the Pirates win those games are the same players that won three out of 23 games in two years under John Thompson.

Although they could not pull out the win, the Pirate's appearance in the bowl game against South Florida was their first since 2001.  Say what you want about a watered down bowl system, but it's a system ECU wasn't a part of for five years.  It's good to be back in that company. 

Missed Opportunities:

The 2006 season for ECU can be considered one of missed opportunities.  It's hard for me to say that, considering the success the team had and improvements that were made, but in the ever-competitive world of college football you have to take advantage of every given opportunity, because you never know when you will get another chance.

The most obvious misses for the Pirates came against UAB and Rice.  One can only imagine what lied ahead for the Pirates if they had won those two games that were decided by a combined total of six points.  Against UAB, the Pirates had a comeback victory sealed with Philip Henry's long catch and run before he fumbled at the goal line with just seconds remaining.  In the Rice game, the Pirates were as close as batting down a fourth down pass late in the fourth quarter to preserving a win, and an East division championship.  That would have sent ECU to the C-USA championship game, and who knows what bowl game from there. 

The Pirates also missed a chance to further boost recruiting and team recognition efforts with a win in the bowl game.  Before the game we heard a lot about the USF/Big East ties and how much the Pirates could help their own cause with a win.  They couldn't do that, but playing in a bowl game, and finishing with a winning record sure helps.

As far as the bowl game, I think its Aundrae Allison that may have missed the biggest opportunity.  In front of a national audience in his final collegiate game, Allison had a chance to display his talents in front of scouts across the country.  Instead he had several key drops, and ended up with three catches for 24 yards.  It was definitely not his best performance, but I'm not saying it will kill his chances either.  Allison still has a good chance of being drafted higher than any Pirate in a long time. 

Positive Note:

Let us however leave on a positive note and remember some of the great moments from 2006.  Who will ever forget Kasey Ross' interception that he returned for a TD to seal the win over Memphis, or his pick-six that closed the book on UCF?  How about the atmosphere when fourth ranked West Virginia rolled into Dowdy-Ficklen, and Aundrae Allison's 47-yard TD grab?  Or Allison's 53-yard TD catch right before halftime against NC State?  What about Steven Rogers' first career TD catch on a pass from Aundrae Allison against Marshall, and how could you forget the feel good story of the year, Bobby Good's comeback performance with 116 yards receiving and his only TD of the season in the bowl game against USF?

Looking back, 2006 provided some memorable moments.  If nothing else we all watched first hand as the proverbial Pirate ship was turned back in the right direction.  Thanks to the Pirates and coaching staff for a memorable year, and good luck in 2007. 

Josh Spence