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View from the 'ville
Thursday, December 17, 2009

By Al Myatt

Contractors gear up at Dowdy-Ficklen

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.


Batten: Recruits selling recruits on ECU
Myatt: AD's hope: Break even in C-USA
Myatt: Contractors gear up at Dowdy-Ficklen
Bailey: It's back to work for Pirate football
O'Brien: ECU better positioned for jump
BVL Audio: Skip Holtz Sunday media session
Myatt: Coaches have histories with bowl foes
Monroe: This urban legend more than a myth
Bailey: Pirates and fate make formidable team
O'Brien: ECU has a hot commodity
BVL: C-USA Bowl Lineup & Scoreboard
BVL: BCS Standings
BVL: Harris, Associated Press & Coaches Polls

Hard-hats appear ready to get to work at the east side of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on an expansion project which will enclose the field at that end and add about 7.000 seats.

"They're just getting started," East Carolina athletic director Holland said Wednesday night. "They've got the construction fence up. They're taking stuff down. They're not putting anything up yet. They're a long way from that.

"They've got to get the scoreboard down before anything will happen going in the other direction."

Holland said a new scoreboard will be put back up on the east end after construction is completed.

"At least it's started," Holland said, "and they don't have any choice — they have to have it ready for the first game."

Holland indicated the first game might be something of a showcase event.

"You never know what ESPN may do," he said. "Hopefully, they'll help us find a good opening game regardless of who it might be."

There apparently is the possibility of a Thursday night game on ESPN to open the 2010 season, according to Jimmy Bass, senior associate athletic director for external operations.

Holtz at home in Greenville

Maybe we should have listened closer when football coach Skip Holtz said his primary thoughts were about how to make the program at East Carolina better after the Pirates had clinched their second straight Conference USA championship with a 38-32 win over Houston on Dec. 5.

Coaching vacancies at Notre Dame, Kansas, Louisville and Cincinnati have been filled and Holtz has been busy making home visits on the recruiting trail for the Pirates.

Holland wouldn't comment regarding who might have asked to interview Holtz.

"We don't comment on that type of thing," he said with a chuckle. "Obviously, he's staying here. He's been very loyal to us and we're very fortunate to have him. Certainly the Pirate Nation has earned his loyalty. We've got a great thing going. We just need to keep it going."

Back to Memphis

The Pirates will be heading to the Liberty Bowl for the second straight season, this time to play Arkansas on Jan. 2. ECU played Kentucky in Memphis last season, falling 25-19 as the Wildcats rallied from a 16-3 halftime deficit.

ECU became the first team to win back-to-back C-USA football titles since division play was established in 2005. The Pirates are headed for a bowl game for the fourth straight season, a first for the program.

"Before you can establish tradition, you've got to do things more than once," Holland said. "Certainly, winning a second championship is important but now finding a way to win that third one — either next year or in very close proximity — is crucial as well.

"We're going to lose 28 seniors so we've got our work cut out for us but we've got a lot of good, young players who also want to keep it going."

The Razorbacks are expected to have a lot of fan support at the Liberty Bowl, given the proximity of Memphis to the state of Arkansas.

"The Liberty Bowl is not worried about selling tickets this year," Holland said. "Arkansas is so close by and has such a large fan base."

How does Holland anticipate the Pirate Nation will support ECU in person?

"About like last year," he said. "It"s a long trip for our fans. It's very tempting to stay and watch it on television but we've also got a great central core of fans who will be there. The ones that are there will be very loud."

Bass said ECU sold over 8,000 tickets to the Liberty Bowl last season.

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12/17/2009 04:33 AM


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