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
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
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.
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.