College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Monday, July 21, 2003
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
War & Peace: Labor Day in the
It was the famous Friday night game, the last at East
Carolina for Steve Logan as Pirates head coach.
The 42-26 loss to Cincinnati on Dec.
6 was also the last at ECU for Steve Shankweiler as offensive line coach.
Shankweiler quickly found new work as offensive line coach at Cincinnati
and, as fate would have it, his first game with the Bearcats will be against
his former program, on Labor Day, Sept. 1. The Conference USA contest will
kickoff at noon and will go nationwide on ESPN.
All of those circumstances are interesting but the most compelling aspect of
the season opener with respect to “Coach Shank” is that his son, Kort
Shankweiler, is a redshirt freshman for the Pirates who moved from
quarterback to tight end in ECU’s first spring practice under new coach John
“I just told Coach Thompson I wanted to do what was good for the team,” said
the younger Shankweiler. “Instead of waiting behind Paul (Troth) and Desmond
(Robinson), I wanted a chance to get on the field. We both thought it would
be good for me and the team.”
The elder Shankweiler left behind one of the top-rated offensive lines in
the country. The unit that he nurtured has been taken over by associate head
coach J.B. Grimes, ECU’s new offensive line coach under Thompson.
ECU’s first game puts Coach Shankweiler in the rather unique position of
trying to beat his old team and his son, who will celebrate his 20th
birthday on Aug. 31, the day before the game.
“We’ve talked about it,” Kort said. “Before the game he’ll be my dad. During
the game, we both want to help our teams win. After the game, he’ll be my
parent again. We’ll see what happens.”
Coach Shankweiler said it hasn’t been determined if he will be on the
sideline or in the pressbox at 35,000-seat Nippert Stadium when the Pirates,
who lead the series with Cincy 12-3, come to town.
“It’s like, ‘Hey, I love you but when the game starts, it’s business,’ ”
said the Bearcats rookie coach, who spent 10 years on the ECU staff —
including working for former head coach Bill Lewis when ECU beat N.C. State
37-34 in the Peach Bowl to complete an 11-1 season in 1991.
Shankweiler left with Lewis for Georgia Tech after the ’91 season and was
offensive coordinator for the Yellow Jackets for three years, but decided to
coach on the high school level in Georgia after Lewis struggled and was
deposed in Atlanta. He returned to Greenville in 1998 as offensive line
coach for Logan.
The guys in the trenches for the Pirates this season will include Brian
Rimpf, Doug White, Charlie Dempsey, Brian Fox, Corey Schmidt, Gary Freeman,
Hunter Wood and Hagen Mason. Coach Shankweiler was involved in the
recruitment and development of all of them.
Rimpf, a fifth-year senior who graduated in May, knows it
will be a highly-unusual situation.
“During the game I’m not going to know who’s over there,” said Rimpf, a
Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy candidate. “Leading up to the game I’ll be
thinking about it and after the game I’ll go up and say, ‘Hey,’ and just
talk I guess.”
Coach Shankweiler and wife Patti began living in Cincinnati just after
Easter. They’ve been enjoying some of what the city had to offer.
Shankweiler has become a big Cincinnati Reds fan and has
seen a lot of the club’s home games. He says Bearcats coach Rick Minter is a
huge baseball fan. Fittingly, considering the circumstances, Kort happened
to be an excellent baseball player at Greenville Rose and for the Pitt
County American Legion team before deciding to focus on football at ECU.
Coach Shankweiler said the biggest adjustment is the friends he left behind.
“We spent 10 years in Greenville and all three of our children graduated
from Rose High,” he said. “There are a lot of friends that you make based on
your children’s situation. What I missed most is just the people and a lot
of friendships. The good part is that we’re making new friends here and
hopefully we’ll be able to sustain both sets of friendships.”
The job itself is pretty similar to his work in Greenville.
“You hear people talking about differences," said the coach, “but offensive
line coaching is offensive line coaching. The idea is to knock people down
when you’re running and protect the quarter back. The fundamentals are the
Cincinnati had significant graduation losses to deal with. The new Bearcats
O-line boss said his team lost its all-time sack leader, the program’s
all-time receptions leader and the leading interceptions leader.
“Replacing them is as big an issue as who we are playing,” Shankweiler said.
“We weren’t settled on an offensive line in the spring.”
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