College Sports in the Carolinas
Watch for Al Myatt's
profile of new ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in this summer's
from the East
Friday, July 16, 2004
By Al Myatt
Pirate Hall of Famer plugging
the dike at Auburn
Former East Carolina baseball player and coach Hal Baird hasn't followed the
search for an athletics director at East Carolina in recent months. He has
had plenty on his plate at Auburn. The Tigers have managed to even exceed
the Pirates in their volume of leadership voids and that has been keeping
Baird's title at Auburn is athletic assistant to the president of the
university. The interim president at Auburn is Ed Richardson and he has been
pulling the trigger on coaching dismissals like Chuck Connors going up the
street in "The Rifleman."
After a botched cloak and dagger attempt by the previous president, William
Walker, to supplant Tigers football coach Tommy Tuberville with Louisville
coach Bobby Petrino, Richardson has axed men's basketball coach Cliff Ellis
and baseball coach Steve Renfroe.
Baird had some personal feelings about the dismissal of Renfroe, his former
assistant when Baird was baseball coach for the Tigers.
The women's basketball coach retired.
"Three coaching searches," Baird said. "People tell me they've never heard
of anything like that."
The Tigers also have been bracing for the results of an investigation by the
NCAA into the men's basketball program.
Auburn's athletics director, David Housel, has been reassigned to other
duties and Baird has in effect been acting as AD in regard to internal
affairs although he's not campaigning for the position on a fulltime basis.
"I'm 55 years old," Baird said. "I'm probably a lot closer to retirement
than I am to starting a new career. ... I've made it clear really that I'm
not that interested in the permanent position here."
The buzz a couple of years ago when former Auburn president Bill Muse was
chancellor at ECU and Pirates AD Mike Hamrick had created a public relations
nightmare by agreeing for ECU to play a Friday night football game in
conflict with the state high school playoffs was that Baird might return to
ECU as Hamrick's replacement.
Baird has a number of qualities that new chancellor Steve Ballard has said
he is seeking in an AD. But no one has even contacted Baird, an ECU Hall of
Famer, to even determine if he is interested.
"I coached for 25 years and I've been doing this for about four," Baird
said. "I'm not in the business for applying for jobs at this stage of the
game. I'm sure there are eager, younger and more engaged athletic
administrators who would crawl on their hands and knees to Greenville. You
never know what happens if somebody calls — but I don't know if that will
Told that Ballard was looking for someone with experience, a passion for ECU
athletics, leadership qualities and connections that might benefit ECU in
future conference affiliation, Baird said, "That all sounds reasonable to
me, an apt job description. Whether all those qualities exist in one
individual, that's another story."
Baird himself would seem to fit Ballard's profile pretty well. When he isn't
involved in coaching searches or trying to minimize NCAA sanctions, Baird
said he still keeps up with the Pirates.
"I've been gone from East Carolina for 20 years but I never fail to follow
anything they do," Baird said. "That's the first thing I do — whether it's
football, basketball or baseball — is see how ECU did."
Baird said he wrote a letter of reference and made phone calls on behalf of
Gamecock Club director Jeff Barber, an ECU alumnus who was an original
finalist for the ECU AD job. But then he lost track of the process at ECU as
Auburn's state of affairs consumed his time and energy.
The exit of Renfroe, the former baseball coach, was painted as a power play
by the interim president that went over Baird's head.
"It wasn't simply a situation with a head coach," Baird said. "He was an
assistant for me for 16 years. Obviously there was a very close attachment
but it's been blown totally out of proportion. ... Because of the fluid
state the athletics department is in, the president has been in control of
personnel. ... The baseball coach situation was a personal thing."
The Tigers hired former Auburn and Florida assistant Tom Slater as baseball
coach and former North Carolina player Jeff Lebo as men's basketball coach.
"It's in the early stages with Coach Lebo but I've been impressed with his
work ethic and his organization and structure," Baird said.
Lebo's dad, Dave, who coached Lebo in high school, is helping his son out at
ECU should probably check out a father figure and favorite son rolled into
one — Baird — in its expanded AD search. He played at ECU in the early 1970s
and was 145-66-1 as Pirates baseball coach for five seasons from 1980 to
1984. He was 634-328 in 16 seasons at Auburn, good for fifth all-time on the
SEC career wins list. Everyone above him on that list coached more seasons.
Baird has defied the Peter principle, never rising to a level above his
capabilities. Although he hasn't pursued the post at ECU, he's certainly
worthy of consideration.
On to some quick hits:
On the baseball front
The news has been good for Pirates baseball coach Randy Mazey after his 2004
club won a school record 51 games and advanced to the Super Regional at
South Carolina. On Tuesday his
contract was extended two years through the 2008
season and his annual salary was boosted to $100,000.
"It's definitely a statement to the future of the program that everybody
feels good about the direction we're headed," Mazey said.
In addition to the new contract terms signed off on by the board of
trustees, Mazey said no one in ECU's incoming class has signed a pro
contract and construction on the new stadium has moved several days ahead of
Robinson moves in
Although there has been no official announcement, former
Williamston coach Harold Robinson has apparently moved into
an office in the Ward Sports Medicine Building and is in the process of
assisting football recruiting. Respected across the state for his
accomplishments and innovations in 26 years as head coach of the Tigers,
Robinson should greatly enhance in-state connections in his new role in high
"I'm calling all my coaching buddies," Robinson said. "We've got to start
getting these great players into Greenville and get this thing turned
around. It's a challenge that I'm really looking forward to and I really
appreciate Coach (John) Thompson giving me this opportunity."
Ike Emodi, who was projected to start at strong side linebacker, will
apparently enter a supplemental NFL draft next week after encountering
academic difficulties at ECU, according to a report in USA Today.
Emodi had 19 solo stops and 19 assists in 2003 as a junior defensive end. He
also led the Pirates in sacks with four. Josh Chilsom is listed as second
team on the post spring depth chart at Emodi's projected position. Chilsom
was in on 55 total stops last season as a linebacker.
BCS gets another makeover
In the movie "Life" with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence, there was a
character nicknamed "Can't Get Right." Although the guy proved to be a
heckuva baseball player, his mental elevator stopped a level or two below
the top floor.
That nickname aptly describes the Bowl Championship Series. Although its has
amended its selection process several times, it just can't seem to get
Another formula for ranking teams
for the BCS was released Thursday, putting more weight on the major polls.
The phenomenon of the two major polls producing a split national champion
was initially a basis for the BCS' self-proclaimed justification for having
a title game.
Years later, the selection system has advanced just beyond square one.
Under the new formula, which begins this season, the AP writers' poll, the
coaches' poll and a combination of computer rankings will each count for
one-third of a team's overall BCS ranking, the Associated Press reported.
Strength of schedule, team record and quality wins, three components used
under the old system, have all been eliminated. Had the new system been in
place last season, it would have matched LSU and Southern Cal in the title
game rather than LSU and Oklahoma.
The AP also stated that in 2001 Miami would have played Oregon instead of
Nebraska, which made it over the Ducks despite a late-season 62-36 loss to
Colorado that knocked the Cornhuskers out of the Big 12 title picture.
The best way to determine a national champion would be on the field — with a
playoff system of conference champions.
Just forget the BCS standings. Their continuous revision only proves they
"Can't Get Right."
Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.
Click here to dig into Al Myatt's Bonesville
02/23/2007 12:46:02 AM