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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
By Brian Bailey

Holtz recipe blends in dash of ECU ingredients

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 the audio archive of Tuesday night's Brian Bailey Show, featuring guest Don Edwards: Select clip

The post-it notes were arranged neatly on tables behind Coach Skip Holtz’s desk. There had to be over 100 of them, neatly arranged in columns.

I did snoop to catch some of the names, and many of them I recognized. I knew Coach Holtz was connected, and the many post-it notes confirmed my notion.

“I answer these calls,” said Holtz, “ and then I just move the columns over.”

It’s a busy time for the new East Carolina football coach. Forget Christmas shopping, the Pirate coach and his staff are out shopping for Pirates.

I met with Coach Holtz to do an interview for an upcoming special that we are airing on WNCT-TV later this month. The show is a part of our station’s “Eye on Eastern Carolina” series.

Holtz is busy assembling his staff. He told me that he wanted a combination of coaching talents, with a bit of ECU flavor and a bit of Holtz flavor.

The ECU flavor is most evident with the addition of Steve Shankweiler as offensive line coach, Donnie Thompson as assistant head coach, and Junior Smith as running backs coach.

Shank is embarking on his third term in Greenville. He is a class act and his son, Kort, was a standout at J.H. Rose at quarterback and is in the program at East Carolina.

Donnie Thompson is known for getting the top athletes out of Eastern North Carolina. He has a great relationship with many of the high school coaches in our area, and he will reap great dividends for the ECU program.

Junior Smith is from Fayetteville and is a great example of a player from eastern North Carolina making it big at East Carolina University. Junior was a class act as a student-athlete, and a nifty running back that was certainly fun to watch.

Holtz will most likely fill the remaining spots on his staff with assistants having what he described as a “Holtz” flavor.

Phil Petty, a Holtz protégé as a quarterback at South Carolina, has already been named, and Greg Hudson, who is leaving his defensive coordinator's position at Minnesota, will soon follow suit.

“I think it’s important to have guys that you know and that know you,” said Holtz. “That really pays dividends later on. I need guys to be on the same page, and so I really want guys that I’ve worked with before.”

Of course, everyone wants to know when the Pirates are going to win. Will it take one year, two years..?

Holtz says the plan is to have success right away. Certainly, though, there is plenty of work to get through to have a chance to elevate the program.

“It will be hard for me to evaluate the talent until after spring ball," Holtz said, "when I can get through spring practice and have an opportunity to see where we are with our strengths and where are weaknesses are."

Holtz, though, is adamant that his program is dedicated to winning as soon as possible.

“I don’t believe in the long term plan.” Holtz said. “I believe we have an obligation to the seniors that we have in here that we are going to have the same goals now that we are gong to have four or five years from now.

“We are going to raise the standards, raise the bar where we are going to take this program. We are going to ask an awful lot out of the seniors this year.”

It may really depend on just how much the seniors buy into the Holtz program.

“We met the other day with the seniors and they said they want to be the class that turns this thing around,” Holtz said. "They want to be remembered as the class that started the change at East Carolina."

You can see more of the interview with Coach Holtz on “Eye on Eastern Carolina Pirate Football Return to Glory” on Christmas Day at 3:00.

We’ll also hear from Terry Holland on his plans for the future, and we’ll take a look back at some of the great players in Pirate football history.

In case you have plans for Christmas Day, set that VCR or Tivo. It’s our Christmas present to Pirate fans, a chance to go in-depth with the new skipper of the Pirate football ship.

Send an e-mail message to Brian Bailey.

Click here to dig into Brian Bailey's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 01:29:58 AM

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