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View from the East
Thursday, January 16, 2003

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Offensive hire reneges; Recruiting gains steam

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Noah Brindise got an offer he couldn’t refuse on Wednesday, just one day after he had agreed with new East Carolina head football coach John Thompson to become offensive coordinator of the Pirates.

Brindise will remain quarterbacks coach of the Washington Redskins after a salary increase bumped him to over $400,000 annually.

Thompson will continue looking for an offensive coordinator, which has been viewed as the key hire on the staff because of Thompson’s extensive background as a defensive coordinator. He liked the diversity of the “Fun ’N’ Gun” offense that Brindise had learned as a Gators quarterback and coached as a Florida graduate assistant.

The Redskins apparently decided Wednesday that the work Brindise did with rookie quarterback Patrick Ramsey during the 2002 season was worth a substantial raise to keep him.

Thompson basically said those things happen in the business of college football and he’ll activate plan B to find a quality coach to direct ECU’s attack.

Getting the feel of Dowdy-Ficklen

ECU’s first big recruiting weekend allowed ECU’s football commitments to get a feel of taking the field for a home game. The recruits got jerseys with their names on them and ran out on the field on Saturday night through the new tunnel from the Murphy Center while the stadium audio provided some emotional accompaniment.

The jerseys stayed at ECU but the players will get them when they become Pirates players.

“They get them back in August,” Thompson said.

Thompson wanted the recruits to get a feel for the ECU experience and and get to know the members of his staff who were on hand.

“More than anything else we were just trying to show them what we are like,” Thompson said. “There are so many great things here to sell.”

ECU has received recent football commitments from linebacker Wendell Chavis of Hertford County and receiver Juwon Crowell of Winston-Salem Carver. Chavis is the fifth ECU commitment from North Carolina's victorious Shrine Bowl team. He had 153 tackles this season. Crowell played for the state 3-A champions, catching 48 passes for 976 yards with 12 touchdowns. Crowell’s older brothers, Germane and Angelo, starred at Virginia.

Spring ball

Many Pirates fans will have heightened interest in spring practice. Thompson’s plans to reinstate the spring game will provide a preview of the direction of the program under his leadership.

“Approximately, it will be the last two weeks in March and the first two weeks in April,” Thompson said. “We will have a coaching clinic during that time. We’ll finish up with a big blowout spring game.”

New look?

There has been speculation about whether ECU will have a new look as it heads into a new coaching era on the gridiron.

“Possibly,” Thompson said. “Possibly. Haven’t made any final decisions on that. We’ve got some things we might want to look at. We’ve got some people that are coming and maybe there will be a tweak here and there. I don’t want to change just to change and I don’t want to change just because we’re new.”

Purple pants?

“Might do it — if we think it looks good with all our staff and involve some of the players,” Thompson said. “I want our players to have ownership. It’s not going to be just something where I say, ‘You know what? I want to put this on the helmet or this on the pants or be in this color.’ There will be a lot of people involved in that.

“You want to look good. You want the players to feel good. I’m not going to change just to change. Sometimes to be a little different — if we think it’s an improvement — we might do it. There’s a lot of opinions about that.”

Moving on

Tony Oden, who has coached in the ECU secondary the last two seasons, will be moving on to Boise State for similar responsibilities with the Broncos. Former Pirates offensive line coach Steve Shankweiler is reportedly weighing offers from Cincinnati and Middle Tennessee State.

Return of the Cardinals

It was a year to the day, Jan. 16, 2002, that ECU got its first ever Conference USA men’s basketball victory, 87-77, over Louisville. The Cardinals return to Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum ranked No. 15 by the Associated Press with a 10-1 record and nine straight wins since an 86-84 loss at Purdue.

Coach Rick Pitino’s club has added post man Marvin Stone, a transfer from Kentucky, and point guard Reece Gaines is averaging 18.0 points.

Pirates coach Bill Herrion is concerned about the matchup problems that the 6-foot-6 Gaines may present.

A sellout crowd will be on hand as ECU goes for its sixth straight C-USA win at home. It will be Herrion’s 100th game as ECU coach. A win would make the Pirates 11-3, the best record after 14 games for ECU since the 1957-58 team was 11-3.

Last year, the win over the Cardinals showed the Pirates they could compete in C-USA. Tonight, on ESPN 2, ECU will step into the national spotlight against one of college basketball’s traditionally-elite programs.

How many would have thought three years ago that this would be happening — sellout crowd, ESPN 2, Rick Pitino, Louisville, Conference USA.

As Morgan Ahlers says on the public address system, “Heeeerrrre come the Pirates!”

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02/23/2007 12:40:20 AM
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