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View from the 'ville
Monday, July 11, 2005

By Al Myatt

Back in the saddle in time for the good times

©2005 Bonesville.net

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 multiple fronts.

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 program.

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 Nevada-Las Vegas.

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
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