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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
Friday, December 10, 2004

By Al Myatt

New football boss getting down to basics

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


Skip Holtz is settling in as head football coach at East Carolina — meeting with players, putting a staff together and recruiting.

"It's been extremely exciting and extremely busy," he said of his first week on the job. "I'm putting names with the faces and getting to know the players, meeting with them individually."

Holtz said he also has been picking the players' brains for evaluations of the program.

Holtz, the son of recently retired South Carolina coach and one-time Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, continued to bring former Gamecocks aboard the Pirate ship as he named ex-USC quarterback Phil Petty to an assistant coaching position. Cliff Snow, formerly director of football operations at South Carolina, will take over the same duties at ECU.

Holtz had previously announced that Steve Shankweiler would begin his third term as ECU's offensive line coach, a task he performed last season at USC. Donnie Thompson is assistant head coach and will work with the defensive line.

Still to be named are the coordinators.

"I'll turn the defense over to the defensive coordinator," Holtz said. "And I will be very involved with the offense."

But it's too early to talk about specifics of ECU schemes.

"We need to sit down and evaluate personnel and talent," Holtz said. "Then we've got to put that personnel in systems best suited for their abilities. But we'll definitely be multiple on offense and defense."

An unusual series of events has given Holtz the challenge of building a program that has gone 3-20 the last two seasons. ECU's new coach appeared at one time to be in position to follow his father as Gamecocks coach, but a year ago he was demoted from offensive coordinator to quarterbacks coach in Columbia.

Although some have speculated that demotion brings Holtz to Greenville with something to prove, Holtz insists that isn't the case.

"I don't feel like I have anything to prove," he said. "I just think Coach (Lou) Holtz wanted to be more involved with the offense. It wasn't a demotion. We had gone up in practically every aspect of offense statistically ... but Coach Holtz wanted to do things the way he did at Notre Dame. The public perceived it as a demotion and the media ran with it. ... The best thing I could do was support it."

A year later and there's no question the younger Holtz has a big promotion. When John Thompson's departure was announced on Nov. 17, Holtz asked Shankweiler about the ECU job because of Shank's familiarity with the program.

"I'd always seen East Carolina from afar — they always played with a chip on their shoulder and overachieved," Holtz said.

Holtz trusted Shankweiler's perspective on the Pirates. Shank had coached at ECU and his son, Kort, is in the program.

"I came in and asked him what he thought," Holtz said. "He was very excited and said he believed strongly that I would be right for it."

Because of a fight with Clemson, the Gamecocks didn't go to a bowl and Holtz became available about the time new ECU athletic director Terry Holland was ready to do some serious shopping.

"As I sat down with Terry Holland and Nick Floyd (senior associate AD), I saw their character, integrity and honesty," Holtz said. "I thought they would be two great guys to have the opportunity to work for. When I visited campus, met some of the players and had dinner with Dr. (Steve) Ballard (ECU chancellor), the more excited I got.

"I was like, 'What have I got to do to get here?' Playing in a bowl game would have made things harder. ... But I've heard people say 'The Lord looks out for those in need.' I must have been at the top of his list. I feel blessed to be here and I'm very excited about it."


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02/23/2007 12:47:01 AM

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