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

ECU News, Notes and Commentary

The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, September 28, 2005

By Bethany Bradsher

"Skinny-legged country boys" still high on Dye

Many of his former players are pulling out all stops to be present when East Carolina coaching legend Pat Dye (1974-79) returns to campus the weekend of Oct. 7-8 to be inducted into the ECU Athletics Hall of Fame. Dye, who became one of the nation's most prominent coaches during his tenure at Auburn (1981-92), was selected in May for enshrinement in the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, IN.

Photo: ECU SID


Former quarterback Leander Green (left) and linebacker Danny Kepley (right) are among the Pat Dye-era players shuffling their schedules with the intent of being on hand with Dye Oct. 7-8 for ECU's Letterwinners/Hall of Fame Weekend. (Photos: Submitted.)


Every fall, East Carolina fans get the chance to reach backward, dust off an event or an era worth celebrating, and throw a party for those who made it possible.

Two years ago the Letterwinners/Hall of Fame Weekend centered on 50 years of the successful ECU swimming program. Last year featured a gathering of the players and coaches from the only time the Pirates have played in three consecutive bowls — 1963, 1964 and 1965.

Next Friday and Saturday (Oct. 7-8), the guests of honor at the gala will be the Pirates from the Pat Dye era, streaming into town to help celebrate Dye’s induction into the ECU Hall of Fame.

“We’ll have a crowd there,” said Jimbo Walker (’74-’75), a former offensive guard and team captain under Dye who now lives in Goldsboro. “They all love Coach Dye, and he loves East Carolina.”

At the helm at East Carolina from 1974-’79, Dye posted a 48-18-1 record, a Southern Conference championship in 1977 and an Independence Bowl victory in 1978. He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on October 7 along with Gail Sykes-Clayton (golf), Larry “Pumpsie” Crayton (baseball) and Latonya Hargrove (basketball).

Leander Green, the quarterback on that Independence Bowl squad, has been working the phones trying to recruit former teammates back to Greenville for the festivities. He knows some letterwinners that will be coming from out of state, like James Freer (’77-’80) from Alabama and Jeff Hagans (’77-’79) and Thomas McLaurin (’77-’79) from Atlanta.

Green makes it to a couple of home games a year, he said, but the Oct. 8 game against Rice, where he and his teammates will be honored at midfield, will be special because it will remind old-timers and new fans alike of the winning tradition that was sowed during Dye’s tenure.

“Coach Dye was a great coach,” said Green, who now lives in Rocky Mount. “He was a good leader. He wanted to, not just grow football players but grow men.”

Since he graduated from ECU as an All-American safety nearly three decades ago, Jim Bolding (’73-’76) has been lobbying athletic officials for avenues that would bring past letterwinners together. In the past, when Bolding came to Pirates games he had no way of knowing if former teammates were in the stadium. When Matt Maloney came to the Pirate Club and initiated events like the Letterwinners’ Weekend, the tide began to turn.

“I just thought that the Pirate Club was losing a great opportunity to tie the letterwinners back to the University,” said Bolding, who is heading up the new Letterwinners’ Chapter of the Pirate Club. “It helps to stay connected and understand where the program came from.”

“We’re just trying to reconnect our letterwinners and let them be with their teammates,” said Maloney, the associate director of the Pirate Club. “We just honor them for the weekend, and everybody has a really good time.”

In the ‘70s, Dye directed a team of underdogs — he called them his "skinny-legged country boys" — who had been told repeatedly they were too small and too slow to compete in the major conferences. He used those past discouragements as motivation, Bolding said, and molded overachievers in the process.

In addition to celebrating Dye’s induction, next month marks a key anniversary — the Pirates’ status quo-shattering victory over North Carolina on Oct. 25, 1975.

“I’m happy to see Coach Dye go in,” Bolding said. “He really brought the big-time mentality. He showed us what could be.

“I like the fact that Skip Holtz is recruiting North Carolina kids, because that’s what Dye did. He gave the East a lot of pride.”

Bolding and Walker have divided the list of names from their days in the mid ‘70s and are, like Green, making as many contacts as possible with former teammates who could join the letterwinners’ golf tournament, attend the Friday banquet and stand at midfield to be honored with Dye during the Rice game.

If it works out, former Pirate linebacker Danny Kepley (’72-’74) could have the distinction of traveling the furthest for the occasion. The linebackers coach for the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League, Kepley has a game in Toronto on the Monday after the big weekend, but he told Bolding he is hoping his schedule allows him to make it to Greenville by week’s end.

Former quarterback Mike Weaver (’74-’76) has also had to change plans to make sure he catches every event of the letterwinners’ weekend. Even though he lives in Greenville, Weaver decided to cut short a New York business trip so that he can return home on Friday, Bolding said.

“We’re organizing this to get as many people back as possible,” Bolding said. “We really need to expose the tradition that’s there.”

Send an e-mail message to Bethany Bradsher.

Click here to dig into Bethany Bradsher's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 01:11:43 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.