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Read Henry Hinton's feature story on veteran Hollywood actress and ECU alum Beth Grant in Bonesville Magazine.

Henry's Highlights
Thursday, December 2, 2004

By Henry Hinton

New elements pump up search drama

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 Wednesday's Talk of The Town with Henry Hinton: Select clip

When Terry Holland addressed the media on Tuesday, his first formal meeting with the press since the John Thompson firing, he gave an extensive list of credentials he felt would be required for his new football coach.

Based on reports surfacing from several different sources on Wednesday, Holland may have left out the one thing he feels is most important… sex appeal.

When I heard former Clemson and Arkansas coach Danny Ford’s name thrown around as a potential candidate for the vacancy at East Carolina, I admit it… I laughed. In fact, I even dished out some good natured ribbing to WITN-TV’s Billy Weaver, who was the only member of the media courageous enough to actually report it.

Turns out Ford has been very much in the mix.

I will attempt to delineate between those things I know to be true and those learned from other sources.

Here is the one thing we know to be true. Ford has told close friends he was offered the job. In fact, that was reported by several South Carolina print media publishers on Wednesday morning. After that, the details get murky and change, depending on who you talk to.

Several different sources confirmed on Tuesday that ECU had, indeed, wooed Ford recently. In fact, the story is pretty much consistent when talking to various sources that the retired coach thought about it for a bit and turned it down.

One of our sources told us Holland is being pushed by large contributors that are insisting the next coach have a huge national name and that ECU subsequently had upped its original offer to Ford to $800,000 and gave him a deadline of mid-day Wednesday to answer.

Ford reportedly had talked extensively with friends and family about the offer. In fact, the scuttlebutt in the coaching industry was that he had begun to talk to former co-workers about the possibility of joining him in Greenville as part of his staff.

At mid-afternoon on Wednesday, it appears something changed dramatically when Ford could not be reached. We are even told that he hung up on a couple of media types who had his phone number in the afternoon hours.

Some in the coaching ranks are speculating that Ford either rejected the second offer or ECU officials made him aware they were moving on.

Speaking of moving on, here is another thing that is a fact: Former Connecticut head coach and South Carolina offensive coordinator Skip Holtz was in Greenville on Tuesday to meet with Holland, associate AD Nick Floyd and a group of players selected by Holland. Holtz also talked with a few other individuals from inside and outside the department hand picked by Holland.

Holtz very much would like the job and has started working on a potential staff that appears to be very impressive. Steve Spurrier has retained only three members of Lou Holtz’s staff at USC, leaving his son a healthy group from which to recruit, including former longtime ECU assistant Steve Shankweiler and former Cincinnati head coach Rick Minter. Regarding Minter, it is believed his first choice would be to have another shot at a head job.

Knowledgeable observers are of the opinion that Holtz would also have access to other strong potential assistant coaches in both the college and NFL ranks. His potential ability to put together a top flight staff has apparently impressed those who have met with him.

Holtz is owed $480,000 as a severance package at South Carolina. While he has been considered successful in Columbia, it is understandable that Spurrier did not want the former head coach’s son on his staff.

The contrast between Holtz and Ford is dramatic. As a close friend of Holtz said on Wednesday, "Skip can put on a Brooks Brothers suit and be as professional as you want and then hop in a pickup on Saturday with his jeans and boots on and go duck hunting with you.”

Holtz also fits the bill for Holland’s desire that the new ECU coach have head coaching experience. He spent five years at UConn building a program that eventually joined the Big East. He had a 10-win season in 1998 as the Huskies’ program continued to build toward becoming a Division I-A program.

Holtz is well-liked and highly respected by other coaches who have worked with him at USC, Florida State and Colorado State. His official bio from the South Carolina website states that, "Prior to coming to USC, the overall record of teams he had been associated with as an assistant coach was 67-15-2."

The knock on Holtz is that he was demoted by his own father last year from offensive coordinator to quarterbacks coach. While on the surface that may appear to be a negative, we understand from those in the program that this is misleading.

“You’d have to understand Lou to understand that move,” said a close associate of Skip Holtz. “Lou wanted to appear to have more control of the offense last year and so he made a statement to the team that we was assuming the offensive coordinator role. In reality, it was still Skip who called the plays and did the day to day duties of the coordinator role.”

If accurate, that was a bold move by Daddy Lou and one that could have unintended consequences on his own son’s future by creating the appearance of a downgrading in responsibility. Time will tell if that is a factor.

While other names continue to be heard in conjunction with the ECU job, Ford and Skip Holtz seem to have been the focus for the last 24-48 hours. The Ron Zook watch has expanded to points west, including Illinois, where Zook reportedly interviewed on Tuesday. Jimmye Laycock of William and Mary still seems to have an outside shot.

No serious talk has centered around Tyrone Willingham, the now deposed Notre Dame coach, who has eastern North Carolina connections and family in the Jacksonville area.

A name that was thrown around quite a bit two years ago has also resurfaced. Kirk Doll, a former ECU player from the seventies who was reportedly a finalist when Thompson was hired in 2002, is being touted again by former Pirate teammates.

Doll, now a defensive coach for the Denver Broncos, is reportedly considered a candidate again due to his ECU ties and support among a segment of the alumni base. He has a strong resume that includes long runs at LSU and Notre Dame. At age 53, however, Doll has no head coaching experience and has been a career assistant, which doe not seem to fit Holland’s criteria.

Holland reportedly wants to complete the search in the next week and could even have a deal with the new coach by the end of this week if either the Ford or Holtz deals pan out.

Sometimes truth truly is stranger than fiction.

A report late Wednesday night indicated Holland and Floyd are crunching numbers for a potential offer to Holtz if the Ford deal has indeed gone south.

This story continues to develop. We’ll be following it for you on Talk 1070 and here on


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02/23/2007 10:14:22 AM

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