Insights and Observations
Read Henry Hinton's
feature story on veteran Hollywood actress and ECU alum
Beth Grant in
Friday, November 19, 2004
By Henry Hinton
Holland move exorcizes ECU's
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
Talk of The Town with Henry Hinton:
Another page is turning in the history of East Carolina
football. Terry Holland has arrived, John Thompson is leaving, and Pirate
fans are hoping this is the right move. The truth is that Holland had no
Just a little less than two years ago, I was charged
with writing a column following the dismissal of Steve Logan. Now, John
Thompson is also departing, albeit under different circumstances.
In retrospect, it is an ironic variation of the same
dark cloud over the program that surfaced during Logan’s tenure that got
I wrote in that 2002 column that Logan had been a great
tactician and had great love for his players and the community but that it
was his lack of public relations savvy that ultimately gave Mike Hamrick
permission to drop the axe.
In Thompson, the university has had the ultimate
marketing dream. Thompson has been willing to go anywhere, anytime to talk
up his program. The people who work with him in the sports information
department at the university consider him the ultimate cooperator. His
seemingly infectious enthusiasm has been evident since the day he stepped on
In fact, members of the search committee charged with
hiring the new coach in 2002 all said they were “blown away” by Thompson’s
presentation during the interview process.
Unfortunately, none of that has translated into success
on the field.
The fabric that was ripped away from the program with
Logan’s ouster consisted of a coaching philosophy and relationships that
were 13 years in the making.
That was the miscalculation by Hamrick and former
chancellor Bill Muse.
Tearing that fabric away with no solid plan to
embellish the strengths of a generally successful football program while
improving on the weak points has proven disastrous.
Thompson’s enthusiasm and change in recruiting
philosophies have not overcome what has been lost.
Since the news broke of Thompson’s termination on
Wednesday morning, there is an obvious divide in people’s opinions. Imagine
Many listeners to our radio call-in shows have
displayed shock that Thompson and his staff would not be allowed to get a
third season to try and turn things around. Others have said it was the
right move by ECU.
Terry Holland could not wait any longer.
I, for one, do not think that Holland’s dismissal of
Thompson was a foregone conclusion when the new AD arrived. The decision was
made strictly on performance and the prospects (or lack thereof) of next
season’s ticket sales.
It is the ultimate “cut our losses” strategy by
Holland. In my view, he simply had no choice.
Now, many will try to affix blame. Holland’s statement
on his decision says that Thompson inherited a ‘house divided.’ There is no
question that it true. How that translated into lack of success on the field
is unclear, but the ECU fan base continues to be divided to this day on what
has taken place over a period of three years.
Let’s face the facts: Poor leadership will yield poor
results… EVERY TIME. The petty jealousies that arose after the 1999 football
season gave birth to an unproductive spirit inside the program and within
the Pirate community that has snowballed to this day.
Subsequent to that memorable 'Hurricane Floyd season,'
a lack of communication among the major players — followed by finger
pointing on issues that should have been handled professionally between
professionals — degenerated into a sustained siege marked by infighting and
turf battles that would ultimately lead to the departure of the key parties
Enter a new chancellor and AD who have none of that
history and baggage… just a charge to fix it. That is exactly what they have
set about to do.
Is Thompson a victim? Yes. But at the end of the day,
only one thing will reunite what J.T. has dubbed the “Pirate Nation.” That
is winning football games. The prospect of that happening anytime soon under
Thompson did not look promising.
Holland’s quick assessment of the ECU situation is
right on target. The Pirate program must develop new relationships — and
fast. The future of Conference USA is very much in doubt.
Making yet another run at the Big East is imminent.
Hiring a big-name coach to go along with our big-name AD could be central to
getting the attention of that conference in light of the program's recent
Agree or disagree with Holland on Thompson’s dismissal,
it was the only move that made sense for the future of the program and the
healing of the wounded "Pirate Nation."
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02/23/2007 10:14:16 AM