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Don't miss Al Myatt's profile of ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in the 2004 Bonesville Magazine.

View from the East
Friday, December 3, 2004

By Al Myatt

Holtz the chosen one to resurrect program

Bonesville Magazine

• PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact

• Recruit Profiles
• Rookie Books
• Tracking the Classes
• Florida Pipeline
• NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again


• 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


East Carolina is giving Louis Leo "Skip" Holtz, Jr., a chance to emerge from his dad's shadow and lead the football Pirates out of the depths of despair.

The man once thought to be in line to take over the program at South Carolina when Lou Holtz retired will instead assume the leadership at East Carolina. Skip Holtz has accepted a difficult challenge — the Pirates having just three wins in their last 25 games.

Holtz will be introduced at a 3 p.m. news conference on campus today.

Holtz made a favorable impression when he visited Greenville earlier this week. He toured facilities, met athletic department personnel and visited with a group of players. Holtz, who had been working at South Carolina as quarterbacks coach at a base salary of $155,000 annually, indicated he would accept the job when it was officially offered on Thursday.

Sources have indicated that ECU athletic director Terry Holland had as much as $800,000 in an annual package to offer his signature hire.

Holtz's primary competition in Holland's deliberations was former Clemson coach Danny Ford, whose candidacy was apparently resisted by interests within the ECU board of trustees. Although Ford, 56, won a national title with the Tigers in 1981, he was subsequently associated with NCAA sanctions placed on Clemson.

Outgoing ECU coach John Thompson had called for unity among those associated with the Pirate program in his final news conference on Nov. 27. Ironically perhaps, administrators and some ECU power brokers were apparently — at least for awhile — on different pages in their appraisals of whether Ford or Holtz should be the No. 1 target. The fan base has expressed sentiment for a wide range of potential successors to Thompson.

"I talked with Terry," Ford confirmed Thursday afternoon. "He and I are good friends but I think they'll have something coming out shortly."

Holland was in the process of getting contract terms for Holtz approved by chancellor Steve Ballard on Thursday afternoon. Holland told Ford he was going in a different direction on Wednesday. Ford was in the preliminary stages of assembling a staff earlier this week.

In selecting Holtz, Holland fulfilled a checklist he presented at an earlier media briefing. Holtz has prerequisite head coaching experience — on the Division I-AA level at Connecticut. He also is thought to be capable of meeting Holland's criterion of assembling an impressive group of assistants.

Holtz, 40, may bring Steve Shankweiler (offensive line coach), Dave Roberts (running backs) and Phil Petty (graduate assistant) from the staff at South Carolina. Jerry McManus, who has been working to bridge the gap in the coaching transition is known to be interested in remaining on the Pirates staff.

And Holtz will be able to go fullspeed immediately into much-needed recruiting, a factor which Holland gave significant weight. That would not have been the case had the ECU AD waited longer to talk to someone associated with a bowl program or an NFL team.

The Pirates can thank the brawl between Clemson and South Carolina, which resulted in both teams taking themselves out of consideration for bowl bids, for making Holtz available before ECU's 2004 season ended with a 52-14 loss to N.C. State in Charlotte. Holland conducted a preliminary interview with Holtz in Rock Hill, SC, on Friday prior to the matchup with the Wolfpack.

Coincidently, the finalists for the ECU position had their own Clemson and South Carolina ties.

Holland interviewed William & Mary coach Jimmye Laycock in Williamsburg, VA, on Sunday. The Pirates also had mild but unreciprocated interest in deposed coaches Tyrone Willingham of Notre Dame and Ron Zook of Florida.

Holtz has been an assistant on his dad's staff at South Carolina since 1999. He was offensive coordinator for the Gamecocks until it was announced by his father on Dec. 17, 2003, that the elder Holtz would be calling USC's plays. The younger Holtz, whose offenses had been characterized by one back spread sets, was assistant head coach.

Holtz played in his father's program at Notre Dame. Like his ECU predecessor, Thompson, Holtz was a quarterback on the high school level in Arkansas.

Holtz has been as assistant at Florida State (1987-88), Colorado State (1989), Notre Dame (1990-93) and South Carolina since 1999. He was head coach at UConn from 1994-98, guiding the Huskies to 10 wins and the second round of the NCAA playoffs in his final year.

Skip and wife Jennifer have three children: Louis Leo (Trey) III (9), Chad Fitzgerald (6) and Hailey Elizabeth (4).

Family considerations make Shankweiler happy about Holland's choice.

Shankweiler, who knows ECU as an assistant under Bill Lewis and Steve Logan and as a parent of current Pirates player Kort Shankweiler, has worked with the incoming ECU coach on the Gamecocks staff. Shankweiler said Holtz and the Pirates will be a good fit.

"He's a heckuva guy," Shankweiler said. "You'd love to have him as your next door neighbor. I think he's what they need. He's a guy who can mix and match with big money people, a great recruit or hunt and fish with the best of them. He's a guy who can cross bridges and relate to who and what is best for the program.

"Oftentimes a guy has strengths as to who they can relate to, but all areas can relate to him. He'll bust his butt to relate to everybody. I've got a kid in the program and I'm really excited. I think he'll do a wonderful job."


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02/23/2007 12:46:59 AM

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