The East Carolina community is anxiously waiting to learn
the identity of its new football coach. Tennessee running backs coach Woody
McCorvey, met with the committee on Wednesday in Greenville.
The committee — which included ECU chancellor William Muse,
athletics director Mike Hamrick, senior associate athletics director Nick
Floyd, Pirate Club executive president Bob Maynard, board of trustees
athletics committee chairman Dan Kinlaw, board of trustees and athletics
committee member Mike Kelly, and former ECU and NFL player George Koonce —
interviewed a total of six candidates.
The list of candidates was assembled by Hamrick, in
consultation with Muse, with the chancellor indicating he will make the
Chancellor Muse has taken an active role in the search
process and he will not rubber stamp the recommendation of the committee or
the athletics director.
Muse is credited for hiring Gerry Faust as football coach
while president at Akron and for bringing in Terry Bowden while president at
Muse has spent time personally with the candidates during
the selection process in addition to sitting in for the search committee
Also interviewed, in addition to McCorvey, have been LSU
assistant head coach Kirk Doll, a former ECU player; Paul Rhoads, defensive
coordinator at Pittsburgh; John Thompson, defensive coordinator at Florida;
Doc Holliday, assistant head coach at N.C. State; and Charlie Strong,
defensive coordinator at South Carolina.
It’s a well-known list by now among ECU supporters, the
question being who will emerge from it to guide the Pirates football
program. Sources indicated that there was no word of a final decision late
The presence of three defensive coordinators on the
interview list might indicate an attempt to address a Pirates unit that was
No. 106 among 117 Division I-A teams in total defense with 445.7 yards
allowed per game during a 4-8 season in 2002.
Pitt (Rhoads) was No. 11 (293.4 yards), Florida (Thompson)
was No. 22 (317.4 yards) and South Carolina (Strong) was No. 46 (351.4
yards). LSU, where Doll works with linebackers, was No. 5 (278.8 yards).
Doll, 51, has had administrative duties in eight years as
assistant head coach at Notre Dame and in 2002 at LSU. He is also regarded
as a solid recruiter. At present he has been spending time on the recruiting
trail as well as preparing the Tigers for a Jan. 1 Cotton Bowl date with
Holliday, 45, was born in Hurricane, WV, and played
linebacker for three years in the mid-1970s for the Mountaineers. He served
as an assistant at his alma mater and recruited successfully in the state of
Florida before N.C. State coach Chuck Amato brought him to Raleigh prior to
the 2000 season. Holliday’s recruiting ability might be a big boost to an
ECU program in which the talent level appears to have dropped in recent
“The kids have figured out the difference between a BCS
school and those that aren’t included,” said former Pirates coach Steve
Logan during the 2002 season. Logan seemed resigned to developing players
rather than competing for more talented high school prospects as his tenure
at ECU drew to a close.
The committee finished the first round of interviews on
Wednesday with a segment supporting Thompson, who has been a defensive
coordinator at Memphis and Southern Miss in Conference USA. He held the same
position at Arkansas before going to Florida.
Another portion of the committee liked Doll. But the
important thing is who Muse likes and, as Wednesday approached Thursday, he
hadn’t given any public indication of a preference.
Although some felt Muse was leaning toward Doll, it is known
that wealthy ECU backer Pete Murphy favors Holliday because of his proven
recruiting ability. That’s the same Murphy, from Wallace, NC, whose $2
million donation bought the naming rights for the recently-opened strength
and conditioning facility, the Murphy Center.
Some who were trying to get a read on the selection process
cautioned against underestimating the influence of the big dollar.
Lacking a clear directive from the search committee, Muse
may reopen the search process or call the top candidates back for another
round of interviews. The urgency of a decision for the sake of recruiting is
minimal. After Saturday, there is a three week dead time when coaches may
not contact a prospect except by phone. After that, coaches may make one
contact per week with a recruit in the period leading up to signing day on
Muse may have discreetly made his choice already and the
process of talking contract with that selection may be the next step. The
circle of those who know the situation is small. Meanwhile, the ECU
community must continue to wait.