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Holland sets media session staff report

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As speculation mounts about potential candidates for East Carolina's soon-to-be-vacant football coaching position, the school took steps Wednesday to defer questions about the pending hire until next week and redirect attention to the Pirates' looming game with N.C. State.

ECU athletic director Terry Holland issued a statement announcing that he will meet with media members at the Murphy Center next Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. to field queries about the coaching search.

Until then, Holland indicated in the release, he would prefer that attention be focused on the Saturday football game.

"We made a commitment to our football program to be in an unintrusive position during the last two games of the season," Holland stated. "I will certainly honor that."

The season-ending clash in Charlotte, the first meeting between the teams since ECU defeated the Wolfpack 23-6 in Greenville in 1999, will be John Thompson's final game as head coach of the Pirates.

Thompson, 3-19 in his 22-game tenure as coach, agreed to a request by Holland earlier this week to step down at the end of the season, accepting the terms of a financial settlement presented by Holland.

Holland acknowledged in the statement that the hunt for a coach had begun but indicated the efforts so far have been focused on collecting information.

"Right now, we are in the initial stages of a search process," Holland stated. "It is a gathering procedure, trying to get as many names together as we can.

"However, there certainly have not been any (head coaching) candidates who have visited our campus."

Familiar names popping up reported Wednesday that outgoing Florida coach Ron Zook had been contacted about the pending ECU opening and had expressed interest in the position.

Other candidates whose names have arisen in connection with the job include Clemson assistant and former N.C. State coach Mike O'Cain, Pittsburgh coach Walt Harris and Virginia assistant Ron Prince.

O'Cain, who coached the Wolfpack from 1993-99 — a time when the school's facilities were not up to par — has stated that he will not pursue the job but would be interested if approached. O'Cain was responsible for recruiting much of the key talent involved in State's success under his successor, Chuck Amato, including quarterback Philip Rivers, one of last season's top NFL draft picks.

Harris, who has resurrected a storied Pitt program that had fallen on hard times, is said to have strained relations with his superiors and to potentially be open to other job opportunities.

The 34-year-old Prince, on the staff put together at UVa by former NFL coach Al Groh, is regarded by some observers as a rising star in the coaching profession. The Cavaliers have become a national-caliber program since Groh was lured back to his alma mater by Holland in 2000, when Holland was still that school's AD.

UAB coach Watson Brown and and Atlanta Falcons assistant Jeff Jagodzinski, both of whom served stints as assistants at East Carolina during some of the school's best football seasons, have also been speculated upon as candidates for the job. has also been informed that a number of supporters of the ECU program have urged Holland to consider contacting former Pirate coach Steve Logan about reassuming the helm of the program from which he was dismissed by a previous administration after the 2002 season. During 11 years as head coach, Logan led the team to five of the seven bowl berths it has earned since joining Division I-A in 1978, including three consecutive postseason bids immediately prior to his final season at ECU.

02/23/07 11:30 AM

Compiled from staff and ECU Athletics reports. Copyright 2004. All rights rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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