ON PIRATE SPORTS
From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
By Brian Bailey
Let's go bowling!
for the focus to shift from coaching speculation to making a loud statement
to the PapaJohns.com Bowl and the Big East about East Carolina.
By Brian Bailey
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will match up with the University of South Florida
in the first-ever Papajohns.com Bowl on Dec. 23.
For years, Birmingham hosted
the All-American Bowl. Now, those folks are back in the bowl business with
Papa John’s Pizza as a sponsor.
The entire administration at
ECU is thrilled to be playing against a BCS school in a bowl game.
"We are certainly looking
forward to having the opportunity and challenge of playing an opponent the
caliber of USF," ECU head coach Skip Holtz said. "We have great respect for
their program, especially the way they compete at a high level in a BCS
conference like the Big East.
"This match up will also
present us with another chance to see how far we have progressed as a
program in two years."
Obviously, someone likes the
way the program has progressed. Holtz spent part of last week in some type
of discussions with the University of Cincinnati about the school's football
So, instead of the community
buzzing about a bowl trip in a couple of weeks, the mood turned somber as
the threat of losing the popular second-year coach loomed.
I don’t know for a fact that
Holtz was ever serious about making a move to Ohio. I do know, though, that
this won’t be the last time a BCS school comes calling.
It’s simply all about money. I
sometimes wonder about those who would rip a coach for listening to an
Take a second to think about
how you would react if you got a call about another job. If someone offered
you two or three times your current salary, what would you do?
BCS schools simply have more
money. This wasn’t the same Cincinnati program that took an annual “Pirate
whipping” several years ago. This team is riding its BCS membership and
taking advantage of the windfall with better facilities and more money in
the salary pool.
Somehow, the powers that be at
East Carolina have to figure out a way to keep Skip Holtz and this current
coaching staff. It has been a marvelous two-year turnaround. But, as Holtz
has said, the work is far from done.
“My commitment is to East
Carolina University, our program and, at this point, our upcoming bowl
stated in response to a Cincinnati
newspaper story that mentioned him as a leading candidate for the Bearcats
job. “I have not sought, nor am I seeking any other coaching position at
this time. I’m happy with the progress we’ve made here but we still have a
lot of work to do. If anything, their interest is a compliment to our
program, players and coaching staff. I think Cincinnati has a bright future
with the leadership that is in place and I wish them the best.”
The day after Holtz issued
that statement, the stress level in Greenville subsided
when Cincinnati announced it would hire
Central Michigan coach Brian Kelly.
ECU Athletic Director Terry
Holland has his work cut out for him in trying to hold on to Holtz. But even
Holland knows that East Carolina can’t compete with some of the money that
BCS schools can throw at a potential coach.
Holland upped the ante with
his scheduling deals, and Holtz delivered a winner this season. Next year’s
slate is also void of cupcakes, and the Pirates will face huge challenges on
The more Holtz wins, the
harder it will be to keep him.
Back to the bowl, where East
Carolina will go into the game 0-3 all-time against the Bulls of USF. The
last time these two hooked up, USF stole one, scoring a touchdown on a pass
that OBVIOUSLY hit the ground. ECU missed an extra point in overtime in the
The Bulls played in their
first-ever bowl last year, falling to North Carolina State 14-0 in the
Meineke Car Care Bowl. The Bulls are a very young program. They started
football in 1997, and then moved to Division I in 2001.
Pirate fans need to rally in
buying tickets, to show the Big East that East Carolina could be a valuable
addition to the league. Bowls want teams that travel, and the Pirates have a
golden opportunity later this month.
Many are trying to decide if
they want to make the long trip so close to Christmas.
Just last week I saw a man with two purple casts on his legs at the doctor’s
office. The man smiled at me and told me he was showing his spirit, getting
two purple casts for his two broken legs.
He winked and said he still
might make the bowl game.
That’s the spirit of the
Pirate Nation in a nutshell.
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04/21/2008 07:08:24 PM