Insights and Observations
Read Henry Hinton's
feature story on veteran Hollywood actress and ECU alum
Beth Grant in
Thursday, December 2, 2004
By Henry Hinton
New elements pump up search
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:
When Terry Holland addressed the media on Tuesday, his
first formal meeting with the press since the John Thompson firing, he gave
an extensive list of credentials he felt would be required for his new
Based on reports surfacing from several different
sources on Wednesday, Holland may have left out the one thing he feels is
most important… sex appeal.
When I heard former Clemson and Arkansas coach Danny
Ford’s name thrown around as a potential candidate for the vacancy at East
Carolina, I admit it… I laughed. In fact, I even dished out some good
natured ribbing to WITN-TV’s Billy Weaver, who was the only member of the
media courageous enough to actually report it.
Turns out Ford has been very much in the mix.
I will attempt to delineate between those things I know
to be true and those learned from other sources.
Here is the one thing we know to be true. Ford has told
close friends he was offered the job. In fact, that was reported by several
South Carolina print media publishers on Wednesday morning. After that, the
details get murky and change, depending on who you talk to.
Several different sources confirmed on Tuesday that ECU
had, indeed, wooed Ford recently. In fact, the story is pretty much
consistent when talking to various sources that the retired coach thought
about it for a bit and turned it down.
One of our sources told us Holland is being pushed by
large contributors that are insisting the next coach have a huge national
name and that ECU subsequently had upped its original offer to Ford to
$800,000 and gave him a deadline of mid-day Wednesday to answer.
Ford reportedly had talked extensively with friends and
family about the offer. In fact, the scuttlebutt in the coaching industry
was that he had begun to talk to former co-workers about the possibility of
joining him in Greenville as part of his staff.
At mid-afternoon on Wednesday, it appears something
changed dramatically when Ford could not be reached. We are even told that
he hung up on a couple of media types who had his phone number in the
Some in the coaching ranks are speculating that Ford
either rejected the second offer or ECU officials made him aware they were
Speaking of moving on, here is another thing that is a
fact: Former Connecticut head coach and South Carolina offensive coordinator
Skip Holtz was in Greenville on Tuesday to meet with Holland, associate AD
Nick Floyd and a group of players selected by Holland. Holtz also talked
with a few other individuals from inside and outside the department hand
picked by Holland.
Holtz very much would like the job and has started
working on a potential staff that appears to be very impressive. Steve
Spurrier has retained only three members of Lou Holtz’s staff at USC,
leaving his son a healthy group from which to recruit, including former
longtime ECU assistant Steve Shankweiler and former Cincinnati head coach
Rick Minter. Regarding Minter, it is believed his first choice would be to
have another shot at a head job.
Knowledgeable observers are of the opinion that Holtz
would also have access to other strong potential assistant coaches in both
the college and NFL ranks. His potential ability to put together a top
flight staff has apparently impressed those who have met with him.
Holtz is owed $480,000 as a severance package at South
Carolina. While he has been considered successful in Columbia, it is
understandable that Spurrier did not want the former head coach’s son on his
The contrast between Holtz and Ford is dramatic. As a
close friend of Holtz said on Wednesday, "Skip can put on a Brooks Brothers
suit and be as professional as you want and then hop in a pickup on Saturday
with his jeans and boots on and go duck hunting with you.”
Holtz also fits the bill for Holland’s desire that the
new ECU coach have head coaching experience. He spent five years at UConn
building a program that eventually joined the Big East. He had a 10-win
season in 1998 as the Huskies’ program continued to build toward becoming a
Division I-A program.
Holtz is well-liked and highly respected by other
coaches who have worked with him at USC, Florida State and Colorado State.
His official bio from the South Carolina website states that, "Prior to
coming to USC, the overall record of teams he had been associated with as an
assistant coach was 67-15-2."
The knock on Holtz is that he was demoted by his own
father last year from offensive coordinator to quarterbacks coach. While on
the surface that may appear to be a negative, we understand from those in
the program that this is misleading.
“You’d have to understand Lou to understand that move,”
said a close associate of Skip Holtz. “Lou wanted to appear to have more
control of the offense last year and so he made a statement to the team that
we was assuming the offensive coordinator role. In reality, it was still
Skip who called the plays and did the day to day duties of the coordinator
If accurate, that was a bold move by Daddy Lou and one
that could have unintended consequences on his own son’s future by creating
the appearance of a downgrading in responsibility. Time will tell if that is
While other names continue to be heard in conjunction
with the ECU job, Ford and Skip Holtz seem to have been the focus for the
last 24-48 hours. The Ron Zook watch has expanded to points west, including
Illinois, where Zook reportedly interviewed on Tuesday. Jimmye Laycock of
William and Mary still seems to have an outside shot.
No serious talk has centered around Tyrone Willingham,
the now deposed Notre Dame coach, who has eastern North Carolina connections
and family in the Jacksonville area.
A name that was thrown around quite a bit two years ago
has also resurfaced. Kirk Doll, a former ECU player from the seventies who
was reportedly a finalist when Thompson was hired in 2002, is being touted
again by former Pirate teammates.
Doll, now a defensive coach for the Denver Broncos, is
reportedly considered a candidate again due to his ECU ties and support
among a segment of the alumni base. He has a strong resume that includes
long runs at LSU and Notre Dame. At age 53, however, Doll has no head
coaching experience and has been a career assistant, which doe not seem to
fit Holland’s criteria.
Holland reportedly wants to complete the search in the
next week and could even have a deal with the new coach by the end of this
week if either the Ford or Holtz deals pan out.
Sometimes truth truly is stranger than fiction.
A report late Wednesday night indicated Holland and
Floyd are crunching numbers for a potential offer to Holtz if the Ford deal
has indeed gone south.
This story continues to develop. We’ll be following it
for you on Talk 1070 and here on Bonesville.net.
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02/23/2007 10:14:22 AM