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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Saturday, December 21, 2002
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

Thompson impressive in first news conference

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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 years.

But now, Thompson takes over an entire program, and he can’t wait.

“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 to 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 John Thompson.

“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 program.

“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 Pirate family.”

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 words.

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 direction.

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!

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02/23/2007 01:22:00 AM

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