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Rumor mill accelerates to blitz mode Staff Report

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...

Conflicting signals are coming from various directions as rumors and counter-rumors add fuel to the speculation about which contender, if any, is in the driver's seat to become East Carolina's next football coach.

The originators of the purported scenarios, at least the ones cited by, are credible figures with unusual degrees of access to one or more of the main actors involved in the ever-evolving drama.

One thing's for certain: All of them can't be right.

According to multiple sources, former South Carolina assistant coach and UConn head coach Skip Holtz had a positive visit in Greenville this week. One source indicated Holtz's visit included an informal meeting with at least some ECU players, a meeting which has been unable to confirm.

Meanwhile, a Wednesday report in The Post and Courier of Charleston, SC, that former Clemson and Arkansas head coach Danny Ford has been offered the East Carolina coaching job may have credence — if a contention by a one-time Ford employee turns out to be substantiated.

To bring the confusion full circle, other usually informed sources insist that Ford has not been offered the job. These sources contend that Holtz may indeed be the frontrunner for the position.

Baloney, say others who are a part of or tuned into the inner workings in the Ward Building, the facility that houses the staff of ECU's athletics department.

Neither Ford nor Holtz, nor any other candidate, has been extended an offer, insists a prominent ECU booster who has been close to the search process.

Competing claims and speculation continue to churn out from various interests with close ties to ECU or to one contender for the position or another.

A former Ford assistant at Clemson says that ECU athletics director Terry Holland has offered the job to Ford, a source has told, adding that Ford is interested and is taking a couple of days to ponder the opportunity.

A separate source indicates that Ford has decided to accept the offer. Still another source says that, yes, Ford was offered the job, considered it and turned it down. reported on Monday that Ford had apparently contacted former ECU coach Ed Emory, now head coach at Richmond County High, to relay his interest in the Pirates job.

Ford, 56, spent 11 years as the head coach at Clemson, a period that included the 1981 national title and five Atlantic Coast Conference crowns.

The latest reports along with claims by sources connected to both the Holtz and Ford camps cast a new dimension on speculation surrounding East Carolina's search for a successor to recently fired football coach John Thompson.

Outgoing Florida Gators coach Ron Zook — reported by the Chicago Sun-Times to have met Tuesday with Illinois athletic director Ron Guenther about that school's coaching position — and William & Mary coach Jimmye Laycock also were believed to be in the running.

Yet another source said that ECU has initiated a dialogue with former Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham, an Eastern North Carolina native. Willingham was fired by the Irish on Tuesday.

02/23/07 11:30 AM

Compiled from staff reports. Al Myatt, Denny O'Brien, Henry Hinton, Brian Bailey and Danny Whitford contributed to this story. A story from The (Charleston, SC) Post and Courier was used as a reference in writing portions of this article. ©2004 and other publishers. All rights rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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