‘Eagle Talk’ brings fans closer to NCCU football
N.C. Central will break training camp on Friday with a 10 a.m. scrimmage on campus in O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium.
Admission is free for anyone desiring a peek at what NCCU coach Henry Frazier III is preparing to put on the field when the games are real starting Aug. 31, with the Eagles dropping in on Duke for the Bull City Gridiron Classic at Wallace Wade Stadium.
NCCU alumni Dennis Ellis, Donnie Cox and Floyd Ferebee don’t miss much when it comes to NCCU sports, including “Eagle Talk,” a live half-hour talk show about NCCU athletics that is carried on NCCUEaglePride.com.
The trio was together for Tuesday’s inaugural edition of the show at Café Renaissance, believing the relocation will attract more Eagles.
“Eagle Talk” used to be at Champps Americana restaurant at The Streets at Southpoint mall. The setting was posh but usually not packed with NCCU sports fans.
“Champps is out there,” Ellis said. “It’s out there a way, especially when you’re trying to meet a time schedule for lunch and all of that, trying to get out there and back.”
Café Renaissance, located at 1903 N.C. Hwy. 55, opened in February and serves all manner of American food, and the new spot for “Eagle Talk” (Tuesdays, 12:30 p.m.) is much closer to NCCU.
“It makes it more convenient for people to get to, especially students,” Ferebee said.
Frazier is marking his 20th season as a head coach and didn’t let on that he ever had studied any sort of tape to get a read on fans based on their tendencies at team functions.
While Eagles supporters weren’t known for filling the previous location, Café Renaissance offers a better measuring stick to gauge the fan base since it’s located in the NCCU community, Frazier said.
“I think this will give us more of an indicator of the fans and the support,” Frazier said. “When we get rolling and start winning and playing meaningful games, I think we’ll overflow it and pack it out.”
Everybody supposedly loves a winner. Frazier’s squad certainly was that a year ago, finishing 6-5 for NCCU’s first winning season since 2007, so the low turnout when “Eagle Talk” was at Champps reflected poorly on fans, Ferebee said.
“The true fan would not allow distance to hinder him from going out there,” Ferebee said.
Kevin Wilson is the assistant athletic director for development and marketing at Fayetteville State. He said that two ingredients have to get mixed together in order to make the “Eagle Talk” audience rise.
“Free and food,” Wilson said. “Once you plug those elements in, you have a better chance of getting them out.”
Wilson was instrumental in landing “Eagle Talk” at Champps when he worked in the development office for NCCU athletics.
“You’ve got to meet them where they are,” Wilson said about NCCU’s fans. “You can plan a radio show for lunchtime, but if money is tight and people have to pay for their lunch, people are not going to show up.”
Wilson, who played football at Duke, said the small crowds during “Eagle Talk” are no indication of the Eagle pride that will come through the gates at O’Kelly-Riddick on Saturdays.
“You definitely cannot make that connection,” Wilson said.
An evening edition of “Eagle Talk” might work better for NCCU fans who eat lunch at their desks, Wilson said.