I didn’t really know Coach Emory…more…I knew of him. When my old man sat me down one weekend in 1983 and said, “watch this team play, son, they don’t back down from anyone,” I did and was hooked. My old man had played on a very similar team at Villanova in the late ’50s – the kind of team that was known for taking on anyone, anywhere, and sometimes shocking them. I remember watching that ECU team play and then following the program. A few years later, I was a student at ECU.
Ed Emory was gone by then – Art Baker was the head man by the time I got there – but Emory’s passion was well known and understood by my fellow sports-nut classmates at ECU.
But, it was many years later when I got the chance to speak to Ed directly. I was a writer and I interviewed him on a couple of occasions, usually to get a few comments on an ECU-related angle. I interviewed him often enough that when I came calling for him to do an extensive interview on his own life and times, he was gracious enough to grant it and moreso, trusting enough to put no limits on the interview. The result, I feel, was a purging for the Coach of some very pent up emotions. The results of those interviews can be found within the embedded links in today’s offering on the coach at Bonesville. Click Here for that package.
No man is without fault, and Ed would have been the first to point out his own faults, but his passion and love for ECU are unquestioned and rivaled by few. You were either with ECU or against her…no gray area. You really didn’t want to be caught in eyeshot of Coach Emory with Carolina or State clothing on and you definitely would not want to be near him in that garb on hallowed Pirate ground…he would probably make a grab at ripping it right off your body. He poured himself into ECU as a player and a coach and really was an avid supporter after the split from the Pirates program in 1984. In fact, he loved nothing better than to see one of his high school players find their way to ECU and wasn’t bashful about prodding an undecided kid toward the Pirates.
If he didn’t create the ECU “chip” he sure as hell added a good number of layers to it, personally. And for that, we all owe him a debt or at least some gratitude because without that chip, ECU would have long ago been relegated to the dregs of football. He was, the football coach equivalent to our beloved former Chancellor/President Leo Jenkins…that much passion, that much love, and that much gumption.
Like the passing of Dr. Jenkins and Coach Stas, and Coach Vansant, and select group of others, Ed’s passing leaves another void in the Pirate family…but like those pivotal players in ECU’s past, there is comfort in knowing that he joins those great Pirates in a place where there has to be a nice swath of Purple and Gold and a football field to his liking.
Godspeed Ed…your Pirate legacy is a rich and cherished one.