Originally created 09/22/99

Stranded Pirates still in Columbia



COLUMBIA, S.C. -- East Carolina coach Steve Logan and his team dreamed they would go bowling this season, just not this soon.

The Pirates (3-0), still stuck in South Carolina's capital because of Hurricane Floyd's flood waters, had a peppy 2´-hour practice Tuesday as they kept preparing for Saturday's showdown with No. 9 Miami.

At night, Logan took the team bowling.

"A bridge tournament, bowling, croquet, I don't know, we'll think up something," he said. "It's a constant deal trying to think up something to keep everybody from going stir crazy."

The team's tentative plans keep them here until Friday.

Then they leave for Raleigh's Carter-Finley Stadium where the home game was switched by school officials Monday over worries in part that basic needs like clean water and power would not be available by the weekend.

The Pirates used South Carolina's indoor practice facility for a second straight day because of morning rain. Logan says that has put them behind in preparations, especially for punters and kickers. The short field also limits individual drills.

"What it does is take away your fundamental skills because you don't get a chance to polish them," Logan said.

But at least the Pirates looked sharper. Athletic equipment manager Dan Glinski got some practice shirts from the NFL's Carolina Panthers.

East Carolina athletic director Mike Hamrick said the school got verbal assurances from the NCAA that it could accept such donations during its hardships.

"They told us we could do what we had to do," he said Tuesday.

The campus is still unfit for students, let alone a football team practicing for one of its biggest games this decade, Hamrick said.

"We still don't have any water," he said. "My staff is using Port-O-Potties."

Hamrick said he talked with South Carolina senior associate athletic director John Moore during Saturday night's game -- East Carolina defeated the Gamecocks 21-3 -- about his team's plight.

"We didn't know what it was going to be like up there" in Greenville, N.C., Hamrick said.

Then Hamrick saw the stop-sign high waters and the flooded campus apartments, since condemned, where up to two dozen players lived and called Moore.

"He told us anything we needed, they would help with," Hamrick said.

Much of the $250,000 East Carolina got for playing here will be eaten up by extra expenses for the stranded team, Hamrick said.

"You've got to do what's best for your students and bringing them back here was not best," he said. "You can't put a dollar amount on that."

Or the exposure lost for an important home game shown on ESPN2. The Pirates are 17-8 the past five seasons at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

"We're going to lose a good recruiting weekend, there's a lot of stuff involved," Logan said. "But I'm glad we're playing the game."

Tailback Jamie Wilson said the time away has bonded players, maybe a little too much.

"A bunch of guys can't stay together too long," he said. "But I think it has brought us closer together. We've come to know each other a lot better."

Quarterback David Garrard says players have gotten past worries about what's left for them at campus and are practicing hard for Miami.

Hamrick says that will likely carry the players through Saturday's game.

"After they play Miami and return home," he said, "that's when reality will set in for them."