Although Emory can turn the air an electric blue on the sideline—"You don't go in his direction if you mess up," says one of his players—he's a tireless recruiter who, along with his wife, Nancy, easily charms no-nonsense mothers from North Carolina's rural areas into letting their boys become Pirates.
Emory works so hard because he hasn't forgotten the feeling of failure his speech defect gave him and the amount of effort it took to overcome it. "That's the biggest thing about Ed Emory," he says, fixing his visitor with eyes bloodshot from lack of sleep. "I'm afraid to be a failure. It motivates me more than anything else."
It will take every bit of Emory's drive to get East Carolina into the limelight. Located in Greenville, N.C., a town of 38,000 in the eastern part of the state, it has been the poor cousin in a university system dominated by the bigger institutions in Raleigh and Chapel Hill.
Greenville has had an image problem since 1791, when, during a presidential visit, George Washington described the tavern he had dined in there as "a trifling place." And the question "Where the hell is East Carolina?" has been asked by everyone from newly hired faculty members, who, in search of their place of employment, have mistakenly turned up in Greenville, S.C., to thousands of Missouri fans, who last year at a game in Columbia wore buttons emblazoned with that inquiry. East Carolina left the Southern Conference in 1977 to become an independent and has never had a capacity crowd of 35,000 for a home game at Ficklen Stadium. The Pirates are the only team of North Carolina's five Division 1A teams that's not in the ACC. East Carolina fans would like nothing better than to see their heroes beat the University of North Carolina, and the public is starting to clamor for a rematch between the teams. The Pirates and Tar Heels have played eight times—North Carolina leads the series 6-1-1—but to East Carolina's chagrin, no future meetings are scheduled. The Pirates' 22-16 win on Sept. 10 over N.C. State in Raleigh drew 57,700, the largest football crowd in the state's history.
Being the odd team out in a state that is crazy about college sports tends to breed insecurity, but according to Pirate Strength Coach Mike Gentry, that's healthy. "Our whole team is driven," he says. "Our players have never run with the big boys before, so they overcompensate in the weight room. They're going to make sure they make it."
The most remarkable of these well-muscled specimens is Long. He can dunk and do a running no-hands forward flip. He has a 58-inch chest, a 38-inch waist, 32-inch thighs and a 20-inch neck. Teammates occasionally call him Mr. T, but his open expression and religiousness run counter to the TV character's malevolent appearance.
Long's lack of height worries some pro scouts, but it's likely his strength and sound technique will make him a high draft choice. If a pro career doesn't pan out, Long would love to compete in weightlifting at the 1988 Olympics.
Football hasn't been his major activity for all that long. His father died when he was 15, and young Long worked as a janitor until his senior year at Eau Claire High School in Columbia, S.C. rather than participate in sports. He played part time that season as a 160-pound nose-guard. He remembers he could bench-press 135 pounds when he graduated.
He blossomed physically in the Army, where he started pumping iron three hours a day while he was a paratrooper at Fort Bragg. In his three years in the service he did 60 parachute jumps, defying Galileo, he asserts, by "always being the 14th out of the plane and the first one to hit the ground." He requested, but was denied, permission by Emory to jump into Ficklen Stadium for the Pirates' home opener this year.
Long, 24, says that he began lifting weights in high school. "When I don't lift," he says, "I feel weak mentally. I get irritable. Coming out of the weight room is like coming out of church." Says Gentry, "Terry lifts like someone has just kicked sand in his face."