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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Wednesday, December 1, 2004
By Brian Bailey

Holland grasps magnitude of 'historic' hire

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


Replay Tuesday's Brian Bailey Show, featuring guest Greg Thomas: Select clip

Holland Press Conference

Listen to the replay of Terry Holland's Tuesday Press Conference, in which he discussed East Carolina's search for a football coach (recorded by Brian Bailey): Select clip...

Terry Holland was growing tired of taking calls about his search for a new football coach, so the new East Carolina AD called all of the media together for a little “Q” and “A” to quell the clamor.

What Holland got was a room full of media, staff, Pirate Club members and at least a couple of players.

I made the comment that we usually don’t have that type of crowd unless we are hiring a coach or getting rid of one. Obviously, the setting for this news conference morphed into something Holland didn't have in mind when he called it.

And it certainly wasn’t what many among the hodgepodge of attendees had come to see!

Still, it was an interesting meeting with a man that many of us are just getting to know.

Holland spent the bulk of the early part of the news conference catching everyone up to speed. He went back to the decision to make a change in the first place.

“It was matter of answering questions both from potential new staff members and also to recruits and their parents,” Holland said. “And not just for one more year. That is not good enough for someone who is sending his or her son here to play football.

"I was actually going to be required to, at some point, essentially extend, if not in public, the coach's contract. At that time, Nick (Floyd) and I decided that we needed to make a decision that we felt was in everyone's best long-term interest and that another year would not help our staff, nor would it help East Carolina University."

It was black Tuesday for coaches soon after Holland’s news conference. First, Butch Davis resigned with the Browns. He may be headed to Florida to take over the Gators' program. Then, Notre Dame fired Ty Willingham. Willingham has strong ties to Eastern North Carolina, but with openings at Washington and Stanford, the East Carolina job  may not be enough to lure Willingham home.

I met Coach Willingham at the Liberty Bowl in 1995, when East Carolina beat Stanford in that defensive struggle. You could tell just by listening to him that he was special, and that he would be in line for one of the top jobs in that nation.

Now, Willingham is on the rebound. East Carolina already came up with one amazing hire in getting Terry Holland to come to Greenville. Holland and Willingham together would spell one word: C-L-A-S-S.

Holland refused to get into names at his Tuesday briefing. But you have to believe that Holland was dialing 4-1-1 in South Bend early Tuesday evening, because he knows he’ll be calling 9-1-1 if he doesn’t come up with what many are calling the biggest hire in the history of the program.

"I think we are at a crossroads,” Holland said. “I don't think there is any question that this is an important time in our football history. There is no question how important football is to the university and to the athletic department. It is an important hire, a critically important hire.

"But more important than that, it is critically important that we all get behind the coach, whoever that coach is."

Who will that coach be? Former Florida coach Ron Zook was thought to be the frontrunner, and then the name of Skip Holtz popped up.

Now, there’s Ty Willingham and his connections to Eastern North Carolina.

I still like Bud Foster, the outstanding assistant at Virginia Tech.

Holland did make one thing clear. If he has to wait to get the right guy, then he’ll wait.

I think a coach needs to be here quickly for recruiting, but Holland says that sometimes the wait is worth it.

I wonder if most Pirate fans can wait this one out. The next week should be interesting in Greenville!

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02/23/2007 01:29:57 AM

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