Insights and Observations
Read Henry Hinton's
feature story on veteran Hollywood actress and ECU alum
Beth Grant in
Thursday, February 17, 2005
By Henry Hinton
New sheriff in town will do
it his way
|Replay the audio
archive of Wednesday's Talk of The Town with Henry Hinton
and guests Skip Holtz and Mike Steele:
Skip Holtz is enjoying
his honeymoon. The first year Pirate football coach has had time to let his
new job and new surroundings sink in and so far he likes what he sees.
Following John Thompson’s
1-11 and 2-9 seasons, Holtz realizes East Carolina football fans are hoping
for something to get excited about.
“It’s a nine-month
honeymoon,” Holtz said in an exclusive interview on
Talk of the
Town Wednesday afternoon. The drive-time program airs daily
on Talk1070 and Cable 7 in Greenville.
Holtz has been charged
with picking up the pieces of a program that has been rocked with
controversy, a fan base that became divided and a fading tradition.
One of his first jobs has
been to rebuild relationships with high school coaches inside the state —
coaches who have been left scratching their heads the last two years.
First came the 2002
Friday night fiasco, when the
state’s high school association said ECU didn't bother to notify it when it
decided to renege on a promise not to play any more games on Fridays, the
night generally reserved for high school contests.
That was followed after
that season by Thompson’s strange strategy, upon taking over the program, to
recruit Florida first, leaving many high school coaches wondering why an
eastern North Carolina university was no longer interested in local players.
Holtz says there have
definitely been fences to mend but after just completing his first
recruiting period he says ECU has reached out to high schools in the state
and received positive response.
He admits there have been
hard feelings toward the Pirate program.
“There are, without a
doubt,” he said. “I made the comment when I got the job here we were going
to recruit North Carolina. We want to get around to every high school in the
state. We have seven coaches working North Carolina, which means each guy
has about forty schools.”
Under Skip Holtz, East
Carolina will veer back
towards its in-state
recruiting roots. That
recruiting process will
be carried out by one
of the region's more
and years on
sidelines as full-time
Def. Line/Asst. HC
Off. Line/Off. Coord.
T. Ends, Spec. Teams
Greg Hudson, DC
Dir. of Operations
Total: 167 years
Skip Holtz: 18 years
Grand Total: 185 years
“We’re going to be in and
out of those schools bridging relationships. A lot of coaches are saying,
‘We haven’t seen anybody from East Carolina in four years.' ”
Holtz believes that
turning East Carolina’s fortunes around requires bringing in the right kids.
“When we went out, we
were looking for academics, we were looking for character and we were
looking for players we could build a program with,” Holtz said. “ We want
players who are going to be in the program for five years so we need guys we
can build a solid foundation with.”
Holtz makes no bones
about the fact that he has a stated philosophy opposite of Thompson’s when
it comes to recruiting. He wants coaches and players in North Carolina to
know that they are first on his priority list.
“For us this is where we
have to start,” Holtz says of North Carolina. “There are people to help us
achieve our academic and athletic goals right here in the state. Once we go
through the state and we feel we are finding the people who can help us
achieve our goals, then we’ll leave the state. That’s when we’ll head to
Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. But we’re not going to make
this a Florida school.”
On a personal note, Holtz
and his wife have just put a house under contract in Greenville and plan to
close on it in a few weeks. He jokingly said “she” bought the house due to
his schedule and focus on his new challenge at ECU.
He says things are
calming down now that the
recruiting period has ended and he
completed the hiring of his staff.
Holtz admits, however,
that he still is in the process of learning everyone’s name.
“Guys are still walking
into my office and I have to say, 'Now what is your name again —what year
are you — what position do you play?' ”
In spite of the slower
pace of the last few days, Holtz, formerly an avid golfer, has yet to pick
up his clubs and try any of the courses in Pitt County.
That will change on April
1, when Holtz will play in the Greenville Police Department’s Tournament to
benefit the Special Olympics at Bradford Creek Golf Course.
Holtz has agreed to be
auctioned off to one of the participating teams on a live broadcast of Talk
of the Town the last week of March.
Interested golfers should
contact either Greenville Police or Talk 1070 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
to sign up a team of four golfers for $250. Each team will have the chance
to phone in a bid to have Holtz play with them.
As for football, the
question on everyone’s mind is 'How long will it take for ECU to become
Holtz is too smart to
make a prediction but believes he and his staff are building a system that
has a chance to turn the program around.
“We’re not going to
change it because we have recruited guys that are two inches taller or two
steps faster,” he says. “The only way to change it is to change the
"I’m anxious to put on
the pads and get started. I know we have a long way to go, but the way these
guys are approaching it is very encouraging.”
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02/23/2007 10:16:05 AM