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Don't miss Al Myatt's profile of ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in the 2004 Bonesville Magazine.

View from the East
Monday, December 6, 2004

By Al Myatt

Ford mystery yields some ECU history

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


Danny Ford confirmed Sunday night that he did get an offer to coach at East Carolina... in a different era and under different circumstances.

After the ECU coaching search that last week produced Skip Holtz as the program's new head man, the only opportunity to join the Pirates confirmed by the former Clemson coach was the one extended by former ECU coach Pat Dye in the early 1970s.

"East Carolina was really the second job I was ever offered," Ford said. "I was just out of college. That was the last time I saw East Carolina, but I stayed at Alabama. Pat Dye got me into coaching and when he came to East Carolina, he offered me a chance to work with him."

Ford opted for the tutelage of Paul "Bear' Bryant in Tuscaloosa.

As to how serious his candidacy was to take over the ECU program in 2004, Ford isn't saying.

"Terry Holland and I are good friends," Ford said. "I had a good relationship with him and Lefty (Driesell, former Maryland basketball coach) and all the basketball guys. I didn't hang around with the football guys that much. I hung around with the basketball guys. We'd go fishing together."

To what degree Holland was in the process of orchestrating Ford's return to coaching isn't clear.

"To go back into it wouldn't serve any purpose," Ford said. "I don't see any good that could come out of it for Skip or East Carolina or me."

Asked if he had talked with Holland about the job, Ford said, "I didn't contact him. Let's just leave it at that."

Not quite willing to leave it at that, I asked Ford if his chances at the ECU job were circumvented by members of the board of trustees.

"I don't think there's any truth to that," Ford said. "I don't know that. Any interest I would have had — I would have made sure everything was done beforehand."

Ford, 56, has a national championship at Clemson in 1981 to his credit, but also some baggage in terms of a subsequent NCAA investigation of the Tigers. He left a subsequent job at Arkansas after a bit of a struggle.

Ford raises cattle about eight miles from his old stomping grounds at Death Valley and has grandchildren.

But does he want to get back into coaching?

"There's a lot I'd like to do," he said. "But I'm pretty well settled."

We'll just leave it at that.

Hale firm on commitment

Trippe Hale, a 5-foot-10, 192-pound safety at St. Paul's High in Mobile, Ala., said he is firm on his commitment to play football at East Carolina. Hale had 90 tackles and four interceptions as the Saints went 5-6 with a first round playoff loss.

"I'm real excited to play for Coach Holtz," Hale said Sunday night.

Hale's dad, Steve, also was a safety when he played football at ECU from 1975-77. The elder Hale is now executive director of the Senior Bowl, which is played annually in Mobile.

Hale was recruited by former ECU offensive line coach Robert McFarland. Hale said he will be academically eligible.

Another ECU legacy delivers

Dave Thomas III rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown in quarterbacking his Riverdale team to a 35-7 win over Franklin for the state 5-A championship in Tennessee on Saturday night.

The performance finished a 15-0 season for the Warriors. Thomas committed to ECU during the summer. His grandfather, Dave, and dad, Dave, Jr., played for the Pirates, as well as his uncle, Greg Thomas, who will try to guide Greenville Rose to a second consecutive state 4-A title this Saturday.

Pirate assistant Jerry McManus has been retained from the former Pirate staff to maintain ECU's commitments, which also include linebacker Josh Smith from Garner and speedy back Craig James of Jacksonville (Fla.) Lee.

Defensive linemen Marcus Hands and Brandon Setzer as well as linebacker Quinton Cotton and defensive back J.J. Millbrook are already on campus and are working to become academically eligible for the 2005 season.

"Shank" returning

You may see former ECU offensive line coach Steve Shankweiler in Greenville today. Although it's not yet official, Coach "Shank", who has worked with Skip Holtz at South Carolina, is expected to be returning to the Pirates staff in his former position as offensive line coach.

Shankweiler's son, Kort, has two seasons remaining in the ECU program.

Alston, the used car salesman

Richard Alston is playing for Cleveland this season after being cut by the Browns in 2003. Alston sold used cars in Zebulon after failing to stick with the club last season.

"I would use football as an icebreaker," the former ECU quarterback and receiver told "Before you knew it we would be chatting like old friends and I would sell them a car."

Brown said he averaged about 15 sales a week before hooking up with the Berlin Thunder for which former ECU coach Steve Logan was quarterbacks coach. Alston, who played at Warren County High, figured prominently as Berlin won the NFL Europe championship in June.

One highlight of his rookie NFL season was a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Baltimore on Nov. 7.


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02/23/2007 12:47:00 AM

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