College Sports in the Carolinas
from the 'ville
July 11, 2005
By Al Myatt
Back in the saddle in time
for the good times
BONESVILLE — As you can see by the dateline,
I'm back in town.
Bonesville editor Danny Whitford and I have
tweaked the column title and reapportioned my responsibilities a bit. In
addition to the standard fare, my assignment will include helping Bonesville
expand its recruiting coverage.
I'm looking forward to writing weekly and
being actively involved on the East Carolina sports scene again, especially
at a time when optimism about the program is undergoing a resurgence on
There have been some notable developments in
the last several months — the hiring of Ricky Stokes as basketball coach,
the Pirates' first spring football practice under Skip Holtz, the
announcement of future non-conference matchups in football and ECU's seventh
straight trip to the NCAA Tournament in baseball.
In his first year as athletic director, Terry
Holland has taken an active role in defining the future of Pirate athletics.
His people are in place in the leadership roles of the major revenue sports.
It's a new era for the Pirates in substantially-restructured Conference USA.
Despite competitive struggles in some areas,
there is an optimism that changes have been made for the better. The recent
past doesn't seem so burdensome when the focus is on the future, and
Holland's first year has been about positioning the pieces that are intended
to produce improved results.
New era, new kind of optimism
There was optimism when John Thompson came
aboard as football coach two years ago, much of it generated by Thompson's
own enthusiasm. The situation with Holtz is different as he has put together
a staff that is generally more experienced than the one Thompson assembled.
Holtz also has winning college head coaching
experience to draw upon from his days at Connecticut. Throw in his family
connections with a coaching legend like his dad, Lou, and a winning
personality, and there is legitimate hope for a turnaround.
Fans shouldn't expect miracles overnight
because Holtz will be working with much of the same talent pool that has
gone 3-20 over the last two seasons.
Factor in the unique situation at quarterback
and immediate expectations should be further tempered. James Pinkney, the
2004 starter, is in his second semester of summer school and there is
optimism for him to return from academic ineligibility. One problem is that
Pinkney was not on hand for spring ball which gives him significant ground
to make up in terms of learning a new system if he is able to rejoin the
An interesting note regarding Pinkney: Even if
he regains his eligibility, he won't be in the 2005 ECU football media
guide. Because of June deadlines, ECU media relations director Tom McClellan
said the publication went to print without Pinkney's bio because he was not
an active player at that time. McClellan has a bio update prepared for the
ecupirates.com website if Pinkney
recovers academically in summer school.
Football scheduling footnotes
In announcing future non-conference football
opponents N.C. State, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Virginia Tech
and Navy, Terry Holland not only added some intriguing foes to upcoming
slates but also revealed agreements for several other games that had been in
the works but languishing under the radar for quite some time.
Of the 25 games announced, Holland crafted new
deals with UNC-Chapel Hill in 2006 and 2007, the Cavaliers in 2006 and 2008,
and the series with the Midshipmen. Most of the other games were previously
contracted or had been agreed to in principle.
The NCAA's plans to go to 12 games in 2006
sent many programs scurrying for opponents. ECU's recent struggles probably
made it easier to get some attractive opponents. The Tar Heels in particular
have historically resisted efforts to play ECU, but after prevailing in a
battle of winless teams in Greenville in 2003, the prospect of playing the
Pirates may not seem as daunting.
Of course, the respect ACC programs have for
the venerable Holland is also in ECU's favor these days.
Logan builds resume
Former ECU football coach Steve Logan has
coached the last two offensive MVPs in NFL Europe, Rohan Davey and Dave
Ragone, as quarterbacks coach of the Berlin Thunder. Logan has helped the
Thunder reach the World Bowl, the European equivalent of the Super Bowl,
each of the last two years.
Logan's contract at $200,000 annually with ECU
comes to an end on Jan. 1, 2006, and he would like to land a head coaching
assignment or another prominent position in NFL Europe. The schedule for NFL Europe runs from late
February to June, including preseason camp. The overseas league operates
with less media scrutiny and — should he decide to pursue it — would leave
Logan available to develop his budding broadcasting career during the
traditional American football season in the fall.
Go west young man
J.J. McLamb, a Dunn native who has served as
ECU's assistant athletics director for operations, has accepted a new
position as associate athletic director for facilities and operations at
Welcome to the real "Jungle"
The men who have tried in recent decades to
lead East Carolina basketball out of the wilderness might argue that the
most inhospitable jungle on campus is the basketball arena — inhospitable
for the Pirates' coaches, that is. Of ECU's last 10 hoops coaches, only one
has managed a winning record with the Pirates — Joe Dooley — and he was
dismissed by former AD Mike Hamrick in 1999 after going 57-52 over four
seasons. Only two of the 10 have lasted longer than five seasons.
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02/23/2007 12:33:15 AM