College Sports in the Carolinas
Don't miss Al Myatt's
profile of ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in the 2004
from the East
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
By Al Myatt
New coach, new league on
Holland's to-do list
Listen to the archived audio of last week's
Bonesville Power Hour on WNCT-AM Talk 1070,
during which John Thompson's dismissal as East
Carolina's football coach was the prime
Press Conference Audio
WHERE TO BUY...
PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact
INSIDE PIRATE FOOTBALL
Tracking the Classes
NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again
HIGH HOPES FOR HOOPS
New Leader Takes Charge
SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door
KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams
BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate
Sources indicate that East Carolina athletic director Terry Holland has
formed an inner circle consisting of senior associate AD Nick Floyd and
former Pirate players George Koonce and Carlester Crumpler to interact with
him in the search for John Thompson's successor as football coach.
Ideally, Holland would like to hire a current Division I-A head coach but he
realizes the pool of candidates there will be limited.
"Our first option will be to seek a coach with a successful record at the
Division I level," Holland said in a statement released in conjunction with
Thompson's resignation announcement.
"It is apparent that this is a small pool of people and 99% of them are
under long term contracts at their current institution," stated Holland.
"Therefore, the pool of candidates will include coordinators at highly
successful Division I A programs and highly successful head coaches from
other Divisional levels."
Former Georgia coach Jim Donnan, who played quarterback at N.C. State and
now works as an ESPN analyst, is atop the wish list of many Pirate fans.
There is also a segment who would like to see Steve Logan return to the
program he directed to five of the seven bowl berths it has received since
joining Division I-A and a school record 59 wins.
Another name that has emerged is that of former N.C. State coach Mike O'Cain,
now an assistant at Clemson, who is familiar with ECU as an assistant during
Art Baker's regime.
Current I-A coaches Paul Johnson of Navy and embattled Pitt coach Walt
Harris may be approached regarding their interest.
When it comes to coordinators, Neil Callaway, Georgia's offensive
coordinator, has already sent out feelers on the ECU job, according to
South Carolina running backs coach Dave Roberts, who also has served as the
Gamecocks recruiting coordinator, has also expressed interest.
Holland has personal knowledge of Virginia offensive coordinator Ron Prince
and some observers feel he has an inside track. Prince would become ECU's
first minority head coach in a major sport, although some feel that Oakland
Raiders assistant Jimmy Ray or Tennessee assistant Woody McCorvey, who
interviewed at ECU in 2002, would be better suited for such a groundbreaking
Southern Cal offensive coordinator Norm Chow apparently prefers the West
Coast and William & Mary's Jimmye Laycock would not likely move because his
wife's job will keep her in Williamsburg.
Holland can put together a lucrative package by previous ECU standards in
the $750,000 to $800,000 range. Hiring a good staff is vital and will
require additional investment.
The urgency of righting the ship has compelled the Pirates to cobble
together a hefty financial inducement for the right candidate at a time when
sources indicate a $1.3 million projected shortfall is expected in the
current athletic budget.
In real world terms, ECU can't afford not to make a significant outlay to
find someone to restore the program, especially when the Big East Conference
may dangle a football only membership to the Pirates as early as February.
Full membership in a "BCS" conference is one of Holland's stated goals but
he said all options will have to be explored. Holland questioned how other
sports would fare when he broached the subject of a partial Big East
membership at a meeting of Pirate power brokers in Fayetteville earlier this
Coaching still on J.T.'s agenda
John Thompson plans to keep coaching, although where and in what capacity
remain to be determined.
Thompson will reportedly get his full base salary of $150,000 annually for
the remainder of his contract at East Carolina or $100,000 a year for that
span if he finds other employment.
Thompson will have actively coached two seasons of a 5-year deal when the
dust settles at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
ECU is already responsible for compensating former coach Steve Logan
$200,000 annually through the end of 2005 under the terms of Logan's
dismissal. ECU must pay Logan the difference between his earnings annually
and $200,000 for the duration of his contract.
Logan has worked some as an analyst on Army football telecasts and as
quarterbacks coach for the NFL Europe champion Berlin Thunder in 2004, but
neither position has significantly reduced the financial commitment of the
Although Thompson, the most-recently deposed Pirate football coach, is
devoting his efforts to preparing his team to face N.C. State in Charlotte,
he does plan to continue working after his termination takes effect
following the clash with the Wolfpack.
"I'm going to work somewhere," Thompson said after practice on Monday. "I'm
not going to sit around and do nothing. I'll stay in coaching, more than
likely. That's all I know."
Thompson had thought he would raise sons Cabe and Hays in Greenville. His
family will get top priority as Thompson contemplates his next move
"I'm going to be in tune with whatever's best for Charleen and the boys
instead of staying in the rat race," Thompson said. "They've been great. I
thought we would be here a long time. I don't want to move them again and
Thompson hasn't begun looking for other employment yet but he has stints as
defensive coordinator at Florida, Arkansas and Southern Miss on his resume.
"I have no idea," Thompson said about where he might wind up, although
Florida and apparently South Carolina will have staffs to hire. "I haven't
talked to anybody. I have a job to do this week. I have not talked to
anybody and will not talk anybody this week."
It's been one week today since new athletic director Terry Holland informed
Thompson of his decision on Thompson's status. Holland made the move after
evaluating an ECU program which is 3-19 in the Thompson era.
Senior associate AD Nick Floyd was also in Holland's office last Tuesday
afternoon when Thompson was informed of the results of a meeting between
Chancellor Steve Ballard and Holland on Monday.
Thompson coached practice that Tuesday afternoon and Pirates offensive
coordinator Noah Brindise said he thought it was unusual that Thompson spent
some time during ECU's workout talking on his cell phone.
Brindise soon found out why.
"I told the staff Tuesday night," Thompson said. "I felt that was important
to go ahead and do that because we felt it was going to get out. I wanted to
give them an opportunity to tell their wives and children before they read
it in the papers or saw it on TV.
"It did get out."
Talk Radio 1070 am in Greenville, home of the Bonesville Power Hour,
actually broke the story on Wednesday morning.
Holland wanted to hold a news conference on Thursday but Thompson wanted to
go ahead and make it official on Wednesday afternoon. Thompson announced his
resignation on Wednesday, although Holland was not on hand because he
attended ECU's basketball win over Pepperdine in Raleigh.
The Pirates have been trying to focus on a rival matchup despite upheaval in
the program and the disappointment of a 38-35 loss to Memphis in Thompson's
last home game as head coach at ECU.
"We just want to go out and make some plays and play a complete game,"
Thompson said of his grand finale in the Queen City. "We had so many
opportunities against Memphis and just didn't make the plays to win the
"N.C. State has got the best defense in the country and we have to do some
things to keep them off-balance. T.A. McLendon runs very, very hard. I've
always liked what they do on offense. They give you a lot of mismatches. Our
problem is that we have to adjust.
"We just want to play a complete game just once and make plays when the game
depends on it."
Thompson said he plans to follow the Pirates even after he's no longer
"Absolutely," he said. "I'll always have an obligation to these players.
It's so important that we finish the job here and leave the job here in the
Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.
Click here to dig into Al Myatt's Bonesville
02/23/2007 12:46:52 AM