NEWS, NOTES &
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
By Bethany Bradsher
One year later, 'Team Holtz'
Systems and methods in place
for smoother second season
Last year, as Skip Holtz and his staff were
setting the parameters for each part of their Pirate program, they got used
to long hours in meeting rooms. As a young head coach, Holtz hired coaches
with plenty of experience and perspective, and he was anxious to hear all of
the opinions around the table.
“The first year’s hard anywhere, but you bring
10 people in together and you bring them all in at the same time, it takes
forever to do anything,” he said. “Because you’ve got 10 different people
saying, ‘I did it this way,’ or, ‘I did it this way.’”
Those hours spent talking through offensive and
defensive strategy and details as small as how they wanted their center to
snap the ball have paid dividends in a number of ways.
For one thing, the staff has grown so close that
the coaches not only operate smoothly as a unit, they actually enjoy
spending time together.
Another payoff has to do with those meetings.
They talked, listened and analyzed in 2005 so that in 2006 they could go
into a meeting, agree to continue the same course they agreed upon last year
and then move on to something else.
For an example of how things have progressed,
Holtz looked to the big event of this week — the various football camps for
youth from ages 8-18.
“In starting camp last year, the meetings to
organize it were longer than the camp itself,” Holtz said. “But that’s all
done now. The camp meeting this year was 30 minutes. Now, we’ve got more
time to spend doing the things we need to be doing, spending time with our
When Holtz came in as head coach, he took great
care to assemble a staff of men with a diversity of background and
experience, coaches who could build a winning program with their collective
On paper, it looked like a superlative group.
But the real measure of Holtz’s hiring work can only be taken now, as they
look into the jaws of their second season with East Carolina.
“It’s even better than I thought it was going to
be, because of the way they all gel together and the type of people they
are,” he said. “They’re all good coaches, they all have impressive resumes,
but what makes them special is the way they work together.”
A good college coaching staff should be a
microcosm of the football team itself, Holtz said — offensive and defensive
guys interacting for one purpose, without tension or territorialism. Holtz
has seen staffs where there was disunity between the coaches on both sides
of the ball, and that chasm trickled down to the players.
“It’s a family,” he said. “It’s the way we’re
trying to get our players to be.”
Holtz has also been encouraged by the fact that
as they have repeated each step of the football calendar, the staff hasn’t
come upon anything that required wholesale changes. Through those long
idea-sharing sessions, Team Holtz seems to have developed solid procedures
that have needed only minor tweaking in the replay.
“I don’t know if there’s any one area right now
where I feel we need to make an overhaul,” he said. “In football, every team
has a life expectancy of one year, and football is a game of hiding your
weaknesses and highlighting your strengths.”
Recruiting is in flux more than any other aspect
of the program, Holtz said, but only because the recruiting process becomes
more involved as coaches get more years under their belts.
Instead of just reacting to gaps in the roster
like they had to do when they first arrived, the ECU coaches who specialize
in recruiting are getting the chance to build relationships with younger
“We’re really just catching up to where we have
a fighting chance of recruiting a guy for two full years,” he said.
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02/23/2007 01:13:08 AM