Insights and Observations
Read Henry Hinton's
feature story on veteran Hollywood actress and ECU alum
Beth Grant in
Thursday, November 11, 2004
By Henry Hinton
Hill getting steeper for
WHERE TO BUY...
• PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact
• INSIDE PIRATE FOOTBALL
• Recruit Profiles
• Rookie Books
• Tracking the Classes
• Florida Pipeline
• NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again
• HIGH HOPES FOR HOOPS
• STEVE BALLARD:
New Leader Takes Charge
• SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door
• KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams
• BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate
When Terry Holland took the job as East Carolina’s
athletics director, he must have had no illusions that it would be a
cakewalk. Yet, one wonders if he realized how difficult it might become.
Talk of The Town with Henry Hinton:
A strong argument could be made that the situation has
worsened since Holland agreed to steer the Pirate ship. The continued lack
of success on the gridiron has translated into falling attendance (read
Add that to the need to try and plot a course for the
future (read search for new conference) and scheduling problems (read try to
get N.C. State and UNC-Chapel Hill back to Greenville) and you see the
mountain Holland is trying to climb.
At his initial press conference, Holland said that East
Carolina had “just gotten a little distracted” and that his objective was to
get things back on track.
Distracted might have been too kind.
After the dismissal of the winningest football coach in
the school’s history, the escape to Las Vegas of the controversy-prone AD
that pulled the trigger, and the forced resignation of a chancellor, the
truth is the program was in need of strong leadership.
New chancellor Steve Ballard and Holland have arrived
at a time when ECU clearly needs a renewed focus and able guidance. Those
who have loved and financed the program to its current level are hoping
those two have not arrived too late.
The timing of problems at ECU could not have been
worse. In the midst of all the rockiness, a door cracked open with The Big
East conference that the Pirates would have certainly been able to walk
through just a few years ago.
Not only did the missed opportunity dash current hopes
of ECU moving into a BCS conference, it also did significant damage to the
remaining league that calls itself Conference USA.
For example, just two short years ago, Marshall made a
direct inquiry regarding C-USA membership and was told no. At that time,
Marshall was seen as a program with too much academic baggage.
After the departure of Louisville, South Florida and
Cincinnati, the Thundering Herd has been welcomed with open arms. It still
seems odd that the same conference that is admitting Marshall is also adding
a Rice program that commands high academic regard. Necessity creates strange
bedfellows, I suppose.
With the league going through its growing or expanding
pains, Holland must make the non-conference schedule as attractive as
possible. That is why he is crusading to have programs from N.C., Virginia
and South Carolina fit the Pirates into their schedules.
At the end of the day, it is also a financial concern.
It may be hard to believe, considering the current state of affairs, but the
Pirates played I-AA William and Mary before a crowd of over 40,000 just
three years ago.
Holland is looking for programs to bring that kind of
excitement back to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. He points out that two programs in
an obvious down cycle sold out in Greenville last October when the Tar Heels
came to town.
So, here’s to you Coach Holland. The “distractions”
have gotten a little bigger, it seems. Thank you for being willing to try to
get the ship back on course.
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02/23/2007 10:14:15 AM