BYH to those wanting outdoor dining uptown. I'm with you as long as we pass a law keeping mosquitoes and other insects...

SUMMERS: Loss sheds ugly light on ECU


Virginia Tech wide receiver Cam Phillips makes a catch past the coverage of East Carolina defensive back Corey Seargent on Saturday in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.


By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Monday, September 18, 2017

There was a buzz in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium early Saturday evening.

A few thousand people, maybe, were straggled across the concrete-and metal-colored grandstands in the football home of East Carolina – or is it only ECU now, or maybe #ECU?

The stadium's bells and whistles (and promotions) were still in game day mode, the video screen still asking for noise on third downs for the visiting team. Music still pumped and thumped through the speakers during each break in the lingering action.

The few people still in attendance, however, the ones who still could see a scoreboard that said Virginia Tech 64, ECU 17, were as disinterested as the players on the field by then.

The home team that quietly exited after getting smashed for 675 yards and which did not register a point after the 2:34 mark of the first quarter walked through an uncomfortable ghost town on its way to a locker room undoubtedly awash in frustration and confusion.

The real danger now is apathy, both inside that locker room and out.

Not since 1957 had the Pirates sat in their team room amid the fallout of a more substantial home defeat. They are 0-3 for the first time in 13 years, and the snapshot of Pirate football with about 5 minutes to play in the fourth quarter Saturday was ugly.

The buzz in the stadium? It was the lights that must have blinked on around sundown, about the same time ECU had given up 57 unanswered points to the No. 16 Hokies.

One fan shouted “Good job, Pirates!” repeatedly from nearby seats as the team limped off the field – now having surrendered 154 points and nearly 2,000 yards in three games – and it was difficult to determine if it was a show of support or sarcasm. Maybe the fan didn't know which it was either.

Second-year head coach Scottie Montgomery took the most obvious course of action after being bludgeoned by West Virginia two games ago. He dropped the ax on defensive coordinator Kenwick Thompson and put line coach Robert Prunty in charge.

Not surprisingly, a week later the exact same defense was giving up yards in chunks, either when ECU defensive backs routinely gave gulfs of space to Tech receiver Cam Phillips or when they never even saw the football on plays until it was already over their heads and in the hands of a Hokie.

On offense, ECU had their house rocking in the first quarter when Gardner Minshew sent a javelin toss to Trevon Brown, who speared through two defenders and rocketed to the end zone for a 76-yard touchdown and an ill-fated 17-7 lead.

ECU didn't make a peep the rest of the night, bottled quickly and permanently by veteran VT coordinator Bud Foster.

The big moments and big cheers have been few and far between, and they are far from enough to hide the empty seats and the growing disinterest in the product being advertised. If that sudden blasé feeling about ECU football reaches the prized recruits who are also watching and also are reading the continued bad national press for the Pirates this season, the problem and the solution become the long-term variety.

Behind all the high-energy scoreboard advertising and dollar-collecting drives apparent in and around ECU athletics is a developing losing problem, and there is no strategy to fix that problem other than a better on-field strategy.

This buzz is different than the one depicted by the little computer-generated people in the school's scoreboard video showing what Dowdy-Ficklen will look like after its proposed $55 million-plus facelift. Too bad there is no way to fill all the empty seats now with excited CG fans, or maybe pipe in crowd noise the way the team does in practice before road games in louder, fuller stadiums.

This problem can't be hidden no matter how much other buzz can be created about peripheral things or about investing in the future. When football teams lose, universities lose.

For a third straight week, the ECU football team that has made it a business strategy to pull out all the stops in order to sell itself to the big stage of college sports was left scurrying for the shadows when the lights turned on.

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com, 252-329-9595 and follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


May 26, 2018 - 23 minutes ago

East Carolina earned the American Athletic Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA baseball tournament Saturday by winning the AAC tournament in Clearwater, Fla., as the No. 4 seed, and the Pirates are likely to be hosting NCAA regional games next weekend at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

That should…


May 26, 2018

It is not easy to leave a winning program for one mired in a string of four straight losing seasons and that hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 1993.

Joe Dooley did that in April when he left Florida Gulf Coast, a team he led to the NCAAs in 2016 and ’17, to take over at East…


May 25, 2018

East Carolina shook off a nine-game losing streak to Houston in a major way on Friday morning, pounding the top-seeded Cougars out of the American Athletic Conference tournament in a 12-1, seven-inning blistering.

With the win, the Pirates (42-16) likely solidified one of the NCAA’s 16 host…


May 24, 2018

A familiar nemesis dealt East Carolina its first loss at the American Athletic Conference tournament on Thursday, as top-seeded Houston broke a tie with two runs in the seventh inning of a 5-3 win over the Pirates in Clearwater, Fla.

On another jam-packed day due to impending bad weather, the…


May 24, 2018

The East Carolina club baseball team spent its rebuilding year after last season’s World Series win building another potential national champion.

Instead of taking this season to regroup and steadily build another contender, the Pirates and second-year coach Ben Fox are already pushing for a…

May 23, 2018

A gutsy and wild comeback Wednesday afternoon for East Carolina at the American Athletic Conference baseball tournament in Clearwater, Fla., might have assured that the Pirates will be smiling Sunday night when the 16 NCAA regional hosts are announced.

ECU advanced to the AAC semifinals in dramatic…


May 23, 2018

East Carolina women’s basketball coach Heather Macy will be a featured speaker at the True North Sports Camp Elevate on the campus of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs next week.

Macy is one of 14 people selected to speak at the three-day event May 29-31, and she will host a 90-…


May 22, 2018

The American Athletic Conference baseball tournament began Tuesday morning in Clearwater, Fla., with a high-scoring and slow-moving game that lasted nearly four hours and ended as an 8-4 win for No. 4 seed East Carolina over No. 5 UCF, giving the Pirates 40 wins for the season.

It also gave…


May 22, 2018

First-year East Carolina basketball coach Joe Dooley is still evaluating the roster and coaching staff for his first team, but the hiring of new staff is on hold for now.

Dooley hired Raphael Chillious, who was at Connecticut last year, as a lead assistant and retained assistant Ken Potosnak from…


May 21, 2018

Bryant Packard was already set to take an East Carolina-record 32-game hit streak into the American Athletic Conference baseball tournament in Clearwater, Fla., and he added more momentum Monday when he was named AAC player of the year.

He is the first Pirate to ever win the American award. He led…

229 stories in ECU. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 23
        Next Page»   Last Page»