Insights and Observations
Monday, December 26, 2005
By Henry Hinton
AD's grand vision for ECU
football still evolving
Improved schedules, prospect
of bigger crowds at Dowdy-Ficklen spur
Holland to picture special new student section with jumping atmosphere
LIVE THIS A.M.
in on the radio or catch the live audio feed of
today's Talk of the Town with
the archives of past shows, including the Dec. 9
Talk of the Town with
guest Terry Holland:
As 2005 comes to a close,
there is clearly more excitement about East Carolina football than in recent
Terry Holland and Skip
Holtz have breathed new life into the program and this past season’s 5-6
season gives hope that the building blocks are in place for the Pirates to
return to national prominence.
Recently, Coach Holland
joined a group of Pirate fans to toast Greenville’s trendy new coffee shop,
Port City Java. Sitting around the fire, Holland gave us a little insight
into what’s ahead for next season.
With the basketball team
getting off to a bit of a rocky start, people seemed to still want to chat
with the AD about football. Finishing the gridiron season with two strong
wins has put a little extra bounce in the steps around Greenville.
Holland. “It affects everything that we do… recruiting, season tickets for
next season. We have upgraded our schedule considerably and it’s time for
Pirates to step up and show that we can fill up Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Our
coaching staff is out there hard at work on the road producing results.”
The next two seasons will
be a true test to see if ECU can jump its season ticket base to an all time
high. Holland has signed his old school Virginia to come to town next season
along with West Virginia. The following year, both N.C. State and UNC-Chapel
Hill will come to Dowdy-Ficklen.
Another coup was swapping
games with Virginia Tech and Southern Miss to allow room for the Pirates to
play in Raleigh next season.
“N.C. State wanted that
game at their place next year at Thanksgiving,” said Holland. “We’re going
to try to avoid those holiday weekends as much as we can, but if a chance to
play N.C. State or North Carolina comes available on a holiday, we’re going
to be available. We won’t have any choice.”
Responding to critics
that the Pirates' routine in recent years is to play both on Labor Day
weekend and Thanksgiving weekend, Holland is unapologetic — particularly
when those dates can produce an upgraded schedule. This coming season is a
“We’re at Navy Labor Day
weekend,” said Holland. “We were very fortunate that Navy desperately needed
a home game next year on Labor Day weekend. We were available and said, yes,
if you come to Greenville twice and we’ll go up to Navy one more time. It
was worth doing it because they are a very attractive team for everybody in
the country. We are very pleased with that.
“Everybody always says
why don’t we schedule Navy and Army? They are the two schools that can
afford to be an independent today because they have great traditions, but
they are schools that you have a chance to beat. They also may beat your
brains out but you still want a crack at them.”
Holland’s stated mission
almost from day one on the job has been to get more games with regional and
in-state teams. Wheeling and dealing with athletic directors is paying off.
The next two seasons should provide record attendance for the program.
It is all part of
Holland’s master plan to create more interest in what is happening with ECU
football to stir the interest of potential suitors when the next conference
realignment dominos fall.
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium has
seen a 50,000 plus crowd but once — in 1999, when the Wolfpack made its
initial appearance in Greenville. With a stadium capacity of just 43,000,
Holland is already looking at where to find room for extra fans in the
house. His comments hint that the east end zone (scoreboard end) could soon
draw his attention.
“We’re talking about that
for next season,” he said. “Certainly we know that the next season, when
both N.C. State and Carolina come here, we’ll need extra seating. I’d like
to create in that end zone at some time in the future a wonderful atmosphere
with all our students. One of the things you’ve seen in stadiums is that
they create a great place for the ‘fat cats’ but no one seems to create that
kind of thing for the students.
“Maybe if we looked at it
close enough, the idea of bringing down all our students and putting them in
that end zone with them going absolutely crazy — with that going all the way
around the corner would be great. We could create some very fine amenities
there, and the other thing I was thinking is that with that we could create
a six- or seven-thousand seat amphitheatre, which would allow that to be
used much more than the five or six football games each year.”
No question about it, a
new era has arrived at ECU. The pressure on Holtz to win will increase with
these new added dimensions. If the program can get back to being a perennial
winner, Holland’s plans will certainly start to get the attention of the
national media once again.
Ever the salesman trying
to incite the fan base, the Pirate AD issued this challenge which sounds
more like a warning.
“I think everyone is
excited about it,” said Holland. “The thing is that if you want tickets in
’07 you need to be here next year. It’s really a two-year thing that’s going
on here, and once you see what’s going on here, well, those are going to be
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