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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, December 9, 2008

By Brian Bailey

Annual gossip fest in full swing

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.


Replay Monday night's Brian Bailey Show with guests Steve Shankweiler, Paul Clifford, Harold Graeter. Eastern North Carolina's longest running sports radio call-in show airs every Monday night at 7 p.m. on Pirate Radio 1250-AM and 930-AM.
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NASCAR calls it the “Silly Season.” It’s the time of year when rumors run rampant about this driver changing teams, this team dropping a driver, this team losing a sponsorship, etc.

The Silly Season has hit Greenville full force. Rumors haven’t had these kinds of legs since former UNC-Chapel Hill coach Matt Doherty bought a house in Greenville’s Star Hill Farms neighborhood just before Ricky Stokes was hired as the East Carolina basketball coach. (Doherty didn’t buy that house and is now the head coach at Southern Methodist.)

The first text I received came last week. “It’s a done deal. Skip (Holtz) has taken the Syracuse job. Presser on Monday.”

That was last Tuesday night. Two phone calls came Wednesday. Holtz shook off questions about the rumor Wednesday night, saying that he didn’t have an agent and that he wasn’t looking for a job.

The Syracuse rumor rumbled on into the weekend. Holtz then turned in one of his finest coaching jobs in ECU’s 27-24 win over Tulsa to take the Conference USA championship, adding another big star to his resume.

Sunday started with another phone call. The NFL Network reported that Holtz was taking the Syracuse job and there would be a press conference on Monday. Last week’s text had made it all the way to New York.

Holtz spent his Sunday in Charlotte as the keynote speaker for the Charlotte Touchdown Club. He told reporters that he would like to speak with Syracuse Athletics Director Daryl Gross while he is in New York this week for his father’s induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. He said he was not going through a formal interview at this point. He went as far as to label reports indicating he would be named as the Syracuse coach on Monday as “inaccurate.”

Holtz added that he was “very happy in Greenville.”

“You never say never in this business because you don't know," said. "But I've said in order for me to leave Greenville it's going to have to be a pretty special situation for me to leave."

Several sources close to Holtz told me on Sunday that they would be surprised if Holtz took the Syracuse job. They wouldn’t go as far as ruling it out completely, but their feelings were that Holtz wouldn’t leave ECU for Syracuse.

Holtz has to listen to the Syracuse pitch. Perhaps the offer may be so overwhelming that he can’t say no. Holtz is a family man, and whatever move he makes, if any, will impact those he loves the most.

The weather would have to be a big concern. Greenville’s winters are downright tropical compared to the winters in Syracuse!

One thing is for certain. There was no press conference on Monday to announce Skip Holtz as the new coach at Syracuse.

I talked to two coaches on the staff on Monday night. Neither had heard anything from Holtz and his ventures in New York.

Stay tuned.

Conference USA Champs

East Carolina forced seven turnovers in upsetting Tulsa in the Conference USA title game on Saturday.

I thought this quote from Coach Holtz from Saturday night’s bowl press conference in Greenville spoke volumes.

“I’m more proud of what this football team has accomplished then I am had they stayed totally healthy and went undefeated,” Holtz said.

Holtz and his staff actually coached two different teams this season. The one that started the year had the experience and confidence of veteran squad. The team that finished the season, the one that stunned Tulsa as a two-touchdown underdog, is a glimpse ahead at the Pirate future.

With the win, the Pirates return to Memphis for the first time in thirteen years. In 1994, Illinois shut out East Carolina, but the Pirates came back to beat Stanford the next year.

There is certainly a lot of fun to be had on Beale Street for New Year's!


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12/09/2008 02:13:13 AM


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