Enough of the Coaching Soap Opera
by Allen Thomas

We as a fan base are an amazing bunch.  It has been a wild ride for a program with a proud history (to the depths of college football and back to bowl eligibility in a 2 year span).  Can we allow ourselves to enjoy this new success?  Heck no.  We are East Carolina.  Unless we are worried and fretting about something we don’t feel like Pirates.

With the recent success in football comes the obligatory free ride on the coaching search carousel.  Each year in late November coach firings and hirings dominate college football talk as we feed our football hunger waiting for bowl season to kick in. 

It’s come to this: if you make a bowl you immediately become a target to be hired away.  If you miss a bowl you immediately become a target to be fired (let's face it- essentially everyone should make a bowl in this watered down system).  So where does that leave East Carolina?  We as a fan base always must have something to be in pain over.  If we lose it's terrible.  If we win it's terrible.  Why?  Because we now lose sleep worrying if we keep or lose our coach!  The horror.  News flash for you folks, Skip Holtz isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, much less another UNC System coaching job (NCSU).

While getting to a game above .500 is a marked improvement over the ECU predecessor, there was essentially nowhere to go but up for this ECU football program.  Skip Holtz and his staff have provided the stabilizing force with essentially the previous coach’s talent and some new young blood to bring this program back to respectability. 

In terms of losing Skip, let’s remove the purple tinted sunglasses for a second and take a deep breath. Is Skip Holtz the new golden boy of college football and should we be losing sleep over the possibility of him being courted away?  I’ll interject thoughts from an anonymous Board of Trustee member on a search committee for an “anonymous” university (70 miles to our west) and give his assessment.  He says, “ECU hasn’t really made any waves that would indicate sustained success in college football…yet.  You just closed out your season against a 3-9 team to squeeze into bowl eligibility. There are guys who lose their job for that threshold of performance all across America in college football.” 

Let’s face it.  In college football today most coaches keep the moving vans on speed dial.  I've always thought we could count on Skip for 4 years as long as things were on track and progressing, anything beyond that would be bonus time.  That is Pirate football: we re-establish him, he re-establishes this program, on track for potential Big-East inclusion.  If he's recognized for it and gets a perennial top-tier job, good for him.  We have a great program in place, a great fan base and a lot to sell to the next guy- as long as we have savvy leadership making the hire.

So Pirate Nation, enjoy our return to success.  Don’t worry about the coaching status.  You’ll drive yourself crazy.   It's never as bad as it seems and we are never as good as our most vocal accolades.  Most importantly we now have USF to focus our attention instead of this coaching soap opera.  As we get closer to the bowl game, we set dead aim on USF.  The Pirates are due to settle an old score from 2 years back (reference the phantom touchdown in D-F Stadium).

Time for some payback shots on USF.  Let's focus on the task at hand, and not Skip’s home address.  Win the bowl game, the rest will take care of itself.  If our problem is “winning too much” that my friends is a great problem to have.

Allen Thomas