Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather





Put your ad message in front of 1,000's and 1,000's of Pirate fans. Call 252.637.2944 for flexible options & rates.





View from the 'ville
Friday, July 31, 2009

By Al Myatt

Holtz, Wilson talk it up — in the library

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

Generally, libraries are known for strict policies reinforcing silence. That allows patrons to concentrate on their reading and studying. Thursday afternoon was an exception at East Carolina.

Coach Skip Holtz and the Pirates' premier defensive lineman, C.J. Wilson, were on the air from room 1418 of ECU's J.Y. Joyner Library in a new, cost-cutting format for Conference USA's football media day.

In past years, all of the coaches and a couple of players from each of the league's programs have convened in Memphis or another C-USA city and made themselves available for several hours of interviews.

Holtz and Wilson answered questions posed to them by a moderator as well as reporters who were on camera from Marshall and Central Florida. When their 15 minutes were up, the teleconference shifted to Houston. The reporter at Marshall was shown eating his lunch on the video feed. The new approach probably saved thousands in air fares and hotel accommodations.

"It was the first time I've seen that," Wilson said. "It was interesting."

Not all of the technical kinks were resolved as Holtz and the league's preseason defensive player of the year managed to maintain their train of thought and continuity in their comments despite significant static in the audio system at the ECU library that sounded like angry crickets.

"I understand the need for it," Holtz said. "I wish we could do it the way we've always done it and take two players to a site and have ourselves exposed to the media and also give the media an opportunity to be exposed to every one of our opponents. ...

"I wish we could have done it that way but I also understand the need for budget cuts and what we're all trying to do to tighten our belt a little bit. ... It is probably the best situation in giving everyone the opportunity to turn and conserve a little bit of money so it can go where it's supposed to, which is to the student-athletes."

Wilson, who risked being late for bowling class, and Holtz, whose focus now shifts from a little vacation time to football for most of his waking hours, graciously moved down the hall to answer a few questions from ECU media one week before the players return for the start of preseason camp.

"I kissed my wife goodbye this morning and told her I'd see her in a few months," Holtz said.

New role for ECU

The Pirates have been designated as preseason favorites in C-USA's East Division in voting by the media. It's the highest projection for an ECU team in the Holtz era. In previous years, the preseason predictions have been done by the coaches.

"It's a very different role," Holtz said. "It's flattering. It's king of exciting to talk about it now. Unfortunately, we have to line up and put the ball on the tee and back it up. ... We played most of the season last year with a target on our chest with the way we started (wins over No. 17 Virginia Tech and No. 8 West Virginia). ... We played a lot of the season last year with those same types of expectations on us.

"So going into this season I think we're probably more prepared for that statement than we've ever been since I've been here when I look at the number of juniors and seniors and the experience that we have coming back on this football team. It's going to be a challenge. It's going to be hard."

Holtz noted that no program has won back to back C-USA championships since the league went to a title game in 2005, Holtz's first season at ECU. ECU has nine starters back on offense and eight returning on defense.

"There are some obstacles we're going to have to overcome to be able to have the type of success that we want. Obviously we again play a very difficult non-conference schedule starting with App State on Sept. 5."

Both Holtz and Wilson expressed plenty of respect for the first set of Mountaineers the Pirates will face over the Labor Day weekend. ECU will also line up at West Virginia the following week, travel to Chapel Hill for game three of 2009 and host Virginia Tech in a Thursday night ESPN telecast on Nov. 5.

Wilson garners respect

The C-USA head coaches and media tabbed Wilson as the league preseason defensive player of the year. The rising senior from Belhaven had 70 tackles during the Pirates' C-USA championship season in 2008. He had 18.5 tackles for losses and 10.5 sacks.

He's dealing with his preseason recognition as a source of motivation.

"Receiving this accolade lets me know the target is even bigger on my back," Wilson said. "It's good though. I like it — being in the predicament I am — it makes me work harder. The coaching staff has been doing a great job with me — Coach (Mike) Golden (strength and conditioning coach) in the weight room this summer. I give thanks to him helping me to get stronger and faster.

"It's good to get that accolade but I know I've got to live up to them. It's going to be hard work."

Wilson is listed at 6-foot-4 and is weighing 288 pounds.

"It's well-earned, deserved," Holtz said of Wilson's preseason honor. "I was joking with him the other day. I can remember on his recruiting visit when he was 215 pounds sitting in the hallway. We were sitting there talking with his parents and his brothers. You look at him now, he's like a freak — the way he can jump, as fast as he is, as big as he is, his strength.

"He's a tremendous player but even better, he's a phenomenal young man. He's extremely humble. He goes back to go to church with his parents. He sings and plays instruments in the choir at his church. He's a great young man, a fantastic young man.

"So many times in college football, people want to write the story of somebody who may make a foolish decision and yet you have somebody like this who is living his life the way he is. What he's doing academically right now with over a 3.0 GPA, I'm just really proud of him.

"He's done a phenomenal job. He's a great young man and I'm blessed to have had the opportunity to coach him."

Visions of sacks

Holtz kidded Wilson that he was admiring his own picture in the players' section of the new media guide.

"You've probably been thinking about your sack dance," said the Pirates coach. "I want to see it about 18 times this year — just don't get a celebration penalty."

"I won't, Coach," Wilson said. "Two steps. That's it."

More news on media day

The Pirates will have their football media day on Saturday, August 8, and Holtz said he will make an announcement on the status of some particular players at that time. He indicated that summer school performances will be a factor in evaluating whether some players will be returning to the program.

Running backs Norman Whitley and Jonathan Williams are both profiled in the 2009 media guide with notes that their inclusion going forward in the program is not a certainty.

An announcement on a proposed expansion of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium may also be imminent. Holtz said he thinks the 7,000 seat addition at the south end will be done but added that his viewpoint is not official.

"I'm the last one to know," said the Pirates coach. "There's an old adage that says, 'Don't ask the monkey, go right to the organ grinder.' I'm just the monkey dancing on the end of the string out here."

Morgan's portrait

A large painting of former U.S. senator and East Carolina alumnus Robert B. Morgan hangs in room 1418 of the Joyner Library where ECU's portion of the C-USA teleconference was conducted. Morgan also served the state as attorney general and as director of the SBI before going into private law practice in Lillington.

As a state legislator in the 1960's, Morgan led East Carolina's battle for university status and was instrumental in getting a medical school in Greenville.

Morgan was given a plaque by the Johnston/Harnett Pirate Club at its May meeting. Chapter president Perry Hudson read an impressive list of Morgan's accomplishments and big Eddie Crabtree, the father of former Pirate special teamers Eddie and Nicky Crabtree, added a personal tribute.

The elder Crabtree, who played at Western Carolina, encountered severe health problems while in Greenville in the spring of 2008.

"My body shut down," he said. "My kidneys were failing. If I hadn't been close to the hospital and gotten the medical attention when I did, I wouldn't be here."

Crabtree regained consciousness after eight days and was inspired by his first visitor, Coach Holtz.

"Robert Morgan saved my life by getting that medical community to Greenville," Crabtree said.

E-mail Al Myatt

Al Myatt's archives.

07/31/2009 02:49:26 AM


©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.