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Make no mistake about it. John Thompson has waited a long
time for the chance to become a head football coach.
Thompson spent 21 years as an assistant coach and 19 as a
defensive coordinator. His defenses have caused problems for offenses for
But now, Thompson takes over an entire program, and he can’t
“We will have an offense that will be much like our
defense,” Thompson told the large crowd at his first press conference. “We
will dictate the tempo of games. Teams won’t know what to expect from play
According to sources on the search committee, that group was
impressed by Thompson’s enthusiasm, his organizational skills, and his plans
for this Pirate program. Members of the search committee told me that they
felt that Thompson had a plan.
Chancellor William Muse once hired Gerry Faust at Akron, and
Terry Bowden at Auburn. Muse says he used his SEC ties to get his man in
“Yes, my days at Auburn helped me with this decision,” Muse
said. “Everyone we talked to had nothing but positive things to say about
John Thompson. We are certainly looking forward to having him as the head
football coach at East Carolina.”
Thompson spelled out three goals for his Pirate football
“We want to win championships, lots of championships,” said Thompson. “We
want to graduate our players, and we want to make a difference in young
people’s lives. My family can’t wait to get here and become part of the
Thompson will get to work right away on forming a staff. In
that regard, I would think the odds are good that Jerry McManus will be
asked to stay on with the Pirates.
The new coach says he’ll talk with each one of the current
assistants to see what the interest might be on both sides.
“I’ll get to work right away on the staff,” Thompson said.
“There are some outstanding coaches that have already contacted me. I hope
to have a staff in place by the first week of January.”
Thompson will be wearing two hats over the next couple of
weeks. He will coach in Florida’s postseason game against Michigan.
“I’m really glad that the two schools could work it out so
that I can coach in the Outback Bowl,” Thompson said. “This way, I can
finish out with that team, and then leave the Gators for Greenville.
"But I am a Pirate!”
I can remember talking with the Pirates coaches during the
90’s when ECU would be preparing for the Southern Miss defense, coordinated
by John Thompson.
Those defenses were incredible, and often made life rough on
the purple and gold.
Personally, I found John Thompson to be very energetic and
likable. He strengths seem to be the exact weaknesses of former Coach Steve
Logan. Thompson seemed at ease in talking with the crowd and in front of the
cameras and microphones. Thompson’s energy was apparent from his very first
If there is a concern, it’s that Thompson has jumped around
a bit during his coaching career. But perhaps Thompson was just looking for
a place to be a head coach, with all of those jumps moving him in that
The coach credits “Team Thompson”, his wife Charleen and his
two children, Cabe (7) and Hays (5) for his success.
He said he wanted to find a place to settle down, to raise
his children in the right environment.
I know first hand that there is no better place for a family
then Greenville, North Carolina.
Welcome Coach Thompson, and we look forward to the 2003
football season and beyond!