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Experience-laden regime adds more seasoning

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From staff and ECU reports

Greg McMahon
(Photo: ECU SID)


Experience is adding up
for the staff of new East
Carolina head coach
Skip Holtz. Assistant
coaches and years on
the sideline as full-time
college coaches:

Donne Thompson
   Def. Line/Asst. HC
   30 years
Steve Shankweiler
   Offensive Line
   22 years
Donnie Kirkpatrick
   Wide Receivers
   21 years
Greg McMahon
   T. Ends, Spec. Teams
   20 years
'Rock' Roggeman
   18 years
Greg Hudson, DC
   Def. Coordinator
   15 years
Clifford Snow
   Dir. of Operations
   10 years
Junior Smith
   Running Backs
   7 years
Phil Petty
   Offensive Assistant
   0 years

Total: 143 years
+ Skip Holtz: 18 years
Grand Total: 161 years

The contrast in the collective career portfolios of the staff members of Skip Holtz versus the sum of the experience of the aides of his predecessor, John Thompson, becomes more striking with each new hire.

Thursday's announcement by Holtz that longtime Illinois assistant Greg McMahon would be East Carolina's new tight ends and special teams coach reinforced the transition from a regime slanted towards youth and generally light on credentials to one steeped in battle and brimming with qualifications.

McMahon adds 20 years of full-time college coaching experience to the 123 years collectively shared by the eight aides previously hired by Holtz.

Holtz, whose own coaching experience spans 18 years, succeeded Thompson as ECU's head football coach on December 3 after the latter compiled a 3-20 record in two years on the job. Thompson had agreed on Nov. 16 to step down at the end of the season.

McMahon spent the last 13 years on the Illinois staff working primarily with the tight ends and wide receivers. In 1997, he took on the additional responsibility of overseeing the Illini's special teams.

Working under head coaches Lou Tepper (1992-96) and Ron Turner (1997-04), McMahon helped lead Illinois to four bowl game appearances and a pair of season-ending national rankings, including a No. 12 finish in 2001. That 2001 team captured the Big Ten Conference championship and compiled a 10-2 record.

During his tenure at Illinois, McMahon had a pair of opportunities to see East Carolina up close and personal. The Illini met the Pirates in the 1994 Liberty Bowl, prevailing 30-0, and battled to a 7-0 victory over ECU the following season in Champaign, IL.

"Greg's career has demonstrated a strong sense of loyalty, commitment and unmatched expertise in a very critical and important area of our program," said Holtz in a statement. "He's had a lot of success with special teams play, tight end production and recruiting in the Big Ten Conference, which certainly stands on its own merit."

McMahon's special teams accomplishments at Illinois included his tutelage of the team's current punter, Steve Weatherford, who earned All-Big Ten honors the last two seasons and finished fourth nationally with a 45.4 average in 2004.

McMahon also coached Illinois' career punting leader Steve Fitts, single-season and single-game kick scoring leader Neil Rackers, all-time punt return yardage leader Eugene Wilson and placekicker Peter Christofilakos, who established a new UI standard in consecutive extra points made with 69.

During his oversight of the Illini's special teams, McMahon also instilled a kick defense strategy which resulted in 16 blocked kicks over the past four seasons. During that same span, Illini special teamers have accounted for nine touchdowns.

As a tight ends coach, McMahon's unit accounted for an average of 20 catches, 200 yards and three TDs per season. He cultivated Josh Whitman into an All-Big Ten performer and a pro prospect. Whitman, on the current roster of the Seattle Seahawks, joins former Illini tight ends Matt Cushing (Pittsburgh) and Ken Dilger (Tampa Bay) in the National Football League.

In addition to his on-the-field duties, McMahon headed Illinois' discipline and conduct control while also serving as the program's academic support staff liaison, which resulted in a pair of first-team GTE-CoSIDA Academic All-America selections for Whitman. Whitman also delivered the scholar-athlete speech at the College Football Foundation's Hall of Fame Dinner.

McMahon, 45, came to Illinois in 1992 from Nevada-Las Vegas, where he spent two years coaching offensive tackles and tight ends. He also served stints at Valdosta State (1989), Southern Illinois (1988), North Alabama (1985-87) and Minnesota (1983-84 graduate assistant.)

He played in two NCAA Division II National Championship Games (1978 and 1980) as a defensive back at Eastern Illinois, where he earned his bachelor's degree in psychology in 1983.

McMahon and wife Linda are the parents of two sons (Drew and Sam) and one daughter (Lisa).

McMahon joins a cadre of assistants characterized for the most part by long coaching careers, the majority of whom had previous connections to ECU or to Holtz's own periods of college football experience as a player or coach. He is the first staff appointment since Donnie Kirkpatrick was named as the Pirates' wide receivers coach on Dec. 20.

Holtz's earlier hires included three staffers with ties to the Pirates — assistant head coach and defensive line coach Donnie Thompson, offensive line coach Steve Shankweiler and running backs coach Junior Smith.

Thompson and Shankweiler list stints as assistants at ECU on their resumes, while Smith, a former star player for the Pirates, logged his coaching experiences elsewhere.

Including Shankweiler, who was South Carolina's offensive line coach last season, five of ECU's assistants have crossed paths with Holtz at Notre Dame, South Carolina and/or Connecticut.

"Rock" Roggeman, a player and graduate assistant at Notre Dame in the mid-'eighties, was named last Friday as linebackers coach, while Holtz announced last Thursday that Greg Hudson, previously Minnesota's defensive coordinator, will assume that same position on the Pirates' staff. Hudson played at Notre Dame in 1986-87.

Phil Petty, a former quarterback and graduate assistant at South Carolina, has joined the Pirates as an offensive coach, and Clifford Snow, who served with Holtz at South Carolina and UConn, has been named director of football operations.

02/23/07 11:31 AM

©2005 All rights rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. contributed to this report. An ECU Athletics press release was used in compiling this report.


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