Nuggets of Gold
Friday, January 15, 2010
By Adam Gold
Adam Gold is
the host of the Morning Show (6-9 a.m.) on
620 the Buzz.
Five-year hiring plan has its
All rights reserved.
Five years. Five very
good years. Skip Holtz came to Greenville charged with turning East
Carolina back into a winning football program.
Starting in the early
'90s, Bill Lewis and Steve Logan had been the shepherds of a very successful
run for the Pirates. When Loganís
time was up, the winning was as well.
John Thompsonís 3-20
record made for a brief stay at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and set the stage
change when Terry Holland assumed the office of Athletic Director.
turned to Holtz,
who had been a top offensive assistant to his father, Lou, during the Hall
of Fame coachís tenure at South Carolina.
Other than the last name,
not too many were familiar with Skip. Some may have thought he was a silver
spoon case, but others remembered that it was Skip who started the
turnaround at the University of Connecticut. He was the head coach for five
seasons in Storrs, winning 34 and losing 23 and bringing the Huskies to the
1-AA playoffs for the first time in school history.
Seven years later, Holtz
was charged with much the same job: turning around a program that was
struggling. He did it again, leading the Pirates to a 38-27 record over five
seasons, including 28-12 in Conference USA.
Under Skip's watch, East
Carolina captured two league titles, went to four bowl games and finished a
respectable 6-12 against BCS league opponents.
leaves for the University of South Florida,
in the Big East Conference, where winning a conference championship means a
berth in a BCS game, a tangible reward that doesn't accompany a C-USA title.
The move makes sense.
Itís not for a lot more money, but it is a place that could make it easier
for Skip to get that next job.
Frankly, Iím surprised
that his name wasnít prominently connected to the opening at the University
Now itís time for Terry
Holland to make the next hire and, in a way, itís far more important than
the one he made five years ago. The next hire will serve to identify just
where East Carolina stands as a football program.
ECU is a great place, a
place you can win, a place that can prepare coaches for the best jobs in the
country. Itís not a crime against the Pirate Nation to say that theirs is a
stepping-stone coaching opportunity.
South Florida is on the
same list of stepping-stone stops, as is the University of Miami. Those
schools are just further up the path.
What Holland canít do is
be afraid that the next hire will do exactly what Holtz did. The way I look
at it, if Holland loses a coach every three or four years, thatís a great
sign. If other programs keep hiring away your head coaches that must mean
theyíve been doing something right.
Bill Lewis won so Georgia
Tech called. Steve Logan won, so many major programs called
ó Logan just didnít feel like
Now Holland has to bring
in the next guy who will be everyone elseís target.
What you don't want to do
is turn your program into the equivalent of a big high school. Boston
College just did that when its athletics director, Gene DeFilippo, angered
that then head coach Jeff Jagodzinski would dare seek a better job, fired
him and announced that he wanted someone who wanted to be at BC for a long
time. Thatís delusional.
If thatís your
aspiration, to just be the ECU head coach, thereís a fair chance youíll
never build a great program.
The best example of this
really comes from basketball. In a 10-year stretch, the University of Tulsa
had four different head coaches. From 1991-2001, Tubby Smith, Steve
Robinson, Bill Self and Buzz Peterson were in charge.
During that stretch, the
Golden Hurricane played in six NCAA Tournaments with a record of 9-6. Twice
they reached the Sweet Sixteen; another time they made it to within a game
of the Final Four.
Each of those coaches
moved on to higher-profile jobs. Smith went to Georgia and then Kentucky,
where he won a title in 1998. Self, stopped at Illinois before landing at
Kansas where he won a championship two years ago.
While Robinson and
Peterson didnít find the smashing success of Smith and Self, they were hired
away because of what they were doing while at Tulsa.
To worry about schools
poaching your coach is to be afraid to fail. Remember, itís always a good
sign if other schools want to hire your coaches. That means youíre hiring
the right people.
Skip Holtz was the
right guy for ECU. Letís hope the next ďSkipĒ climbs up the ladder
thanks to a handful of great years in Greenville.
E-MAIL ADAM GOLD
ADAM GOLD ARCHIVES
01/15/2010 06:44:31 AM