Dec 212012
 

ECU's Vintavious Cooper (21) runs the ball in for a touchdown against Houston Saturday afternoon at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. (Scott Davis/The Daily Reflctor)

ECU’s Vintavious Cooper (21) runs the ball in for a touchdown against Houston Saturday afternoon at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. (Scott Davis/The Daily Reflctor)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Like so many other traditions associated with college football pushed aside in the rush to maximize profits, bowl games — once a definitive reward for an exceptional season — no longer reflect a remarkable achievement for a team. This season will see some 35 games involving 70 universities, including several programs seeking to avoid ending the year with a losing record.

For East Carolina University, which plays the University of Louisiana Lafayette in Saturday’s New Orleans Bowl, the low profile of the game fails to reflect the season players and coaches delivered on the field. This was a year of transition, one that saw the Pirates compete for a Conference USA division title, and all involved should be proud of what the team achieved over the past four months.

One year after limping to a 5-7 regular season that saw the Pirates left out of bowl play, East Carolina can be proud to watch the team compete in the 12th New Orleans Bowl beginning at noon on Saturday. After completing an 8-4 regular season, including a 7-1 record in conference, the Pirates look to knock off the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana-Layfette, which finished second in the Sun Belt Conference.

This was an uncommon year for East Carolina. High-profile out-of-conference match-ups against South Carolina and North Carolina gave fans a thrill, though the Pirates fell short in both games. A bizarre game against the University of Texas El Paso in Greenville saw Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium evacuated due to severe weather, and only an October loss to the University of Central Florida kept the team from playing in the conference title game.

The ups and downs on the field were matched by those away from the gridiron. Many fans will remember this season for the Pirates earning an invite to the Big East Conference, itself not entirely stable for the long term, and the architect of that move, Athletics Director Terry Holland, announcing his intention to retire when his replacement is named. Those are enormous changes that could alter the future of Pirate football.

For now, however, players, coaches and support staff should take pride in their achievements and a season of strong performances. Even though a saturated bowl season diminishes the importance of being selected for a game, the purple and gold faithful knows what this year’s squad has done and will be cheering on Saturday in celebration and support.

via The Daily Reflector.

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