Pirate Rants, Blogging,
Lou Holtz and Anna Benson

by Eric Gilmore

1. Skip Holtz’ comments following Monday’s practice were intriguing considering the guest motivational speaker was his famous father.

You can keep on saying something and saying something as a parent, and all of a sudden somebody at school or a guy that plays in the NFL or (ECU quarterback) James Pinkney says something to my son, and it's like, “Dad, did you hear what he said?’ It’s like, yeah, you’ve been hearing that every day for the last 12 years,” said Skip Holtz referring to his oldest son Trey.

Go up the family tree a branch. Can his quote be interpreted that Skip failed to be influenced by his father, who just happens to tout 249 wins, eighth most in college football history? If Lou’s dinner-table speeches fell upon deaf ears, Skip did hang with the likes of Woody Hayes and Gene Corrigan, which probably wasn’t a bad alternative.


2. Skip Holtz preceded his father’s ESPN Gameday promise on Monday (click here) with a speech stressing accountability. The younger Holtz mentioned the importance of attending study hall and classes. Offensive graduate assistant Kevin Turco has been spotted on campus to make sure that athletes are arriving on time at attend class.


3. The first scrimmage was blacked out to the media, but paying fans from various Pirate Club chapters were granted access. How much sense does that make? With fan message boards and niche blogs rampant, the fans have access to publicize the information normally secured for the media. The second scrimmage is scheduled to begin on Friday at 4 pm. It’s also off limits to media personnel so don’t expect video highlights or players’ comments.


4. The rumors of Nike signing with ECU have been in the mill for quite some time. However, the official release won’t happen for at least another month. The contract is still being worked out and from my understanding, the Russell Athletic deal has yet to be completed. Mack McCarthy interviewed Martin Newton, the Nike college basketball rep on Chalk Talk earlier this week (click here to listen).

Skip Holtz was instrumental in bringing Nike along by utilizing a contact within the company. Also, ECU alum Carol Mabe is no longer CEO of Russell Athletic, which made the split easier. If Nike is willing to get on board, it shows the company’s recognition of both ECU and Holtz’ potential.


5. Kudos for Brian North for his “Raising Pirate Basketball” article (click here to read). North, like me, doesn’t agree with the Ricky Stokes’ decision to revoke scholarships without cause. If players wanted to leave the program on their own, that’s fine. If they committed a rules violation or a crime, then it’s widely considered fair game to pull a scholarship.

But not when you recruited the player a year ago, he doesn’t want to leave and you aren’t positive who will receive the scholarship. When was the last time that a coach tried to pull a scholarship? South Carolina high school coaches nearly revolted on Steve Spurrier when he yanked a few. And those were marginal players he didn’t even recruit.

I’m shocked at the rank and file of the media and fans citing the need for upgrade in talent. Where was the talent deficit at the start of the season or even when both Josh King and Quinton Goods inked letters of intent?

The problem for 2005-2006 was lack of size. Sans an injured Mike Castro, Goods was the biggest player on the team and played well when given substantial minutes namely at Wake Forest. Instead, Goods now has to wait for his release papers, find another school and sit out a year.

All of this comes less than a year from the coaching staff begging Goods to part of their new foundation. Now, Goods and the staff are still trying to establish a foundation. What’s funny (or not so funny) is that the seven transfers will penalize ECU further in the Academic Progress Reports.


6. Senior Eric Graham’s offensive tackle expertise dates back to a former friendly rivalry. Graham was a high school teammate of former N.C. State defensive end Mario Williams at Richlands High School in Onslow Co. Both 2002 graduates, Graham and the potential No. 2 NFL Draft pick have been swapping e-mails.

“He said he was trying to make it,” Graham said with a half-smile. Asked further, he said that Williams has to be making it. I’m not sure about Williams’ standards of living, but six-figure salaries sprinkled with team workouts isn’t exactly roughing it.


7. Chris Johnson underwent successful surgery on his neck during the week. His surgery was described as “tightening of the nuts and bolts” in the neck. He will remain sidelined for the rest of spring, but should be healthy for the fall. Aundrae Allison has been practicing, but is being held out of contact drills to nurse his knee.


8. Sports Illustrated released “Writing up a Storm,” inside it’s March 27th edition (link to the entire Q & A).  The fantastic article focuses on ESPN Page 2 columnist and sports journalist pioneer Bill Simmons. The 36-year-old Boston native represents the transition from print to web technology in sports journalism, which scares the bejesus out of newspaper reporters.

Simmons writes sports humor, which is extremely difficult but with a twist. Simmons hides by sitting among the fans instead of the stuffy press box. The Sports Guy, as he’s known by his readers, isn’t afraid to heckle a referee- a general no-no in the strict media rooms. He’s biased and for him it’s okay.

He’s what print reporters despise. He’s part of the anti-media media. Like it or not, Simmons and others like him represent a new era in journalism, one that makes my four-year degree worth $20 in Confederate currency.

Think 1960s hippies revolting from 1950s pleasant-ville. From there, think wild wild west and apply to journalism. Fans want to hear similar voices while voicing their biased opinions. Blogging makes a perfect marriage. The new fad, which is here to stay, has created an ideal medium for fans to publish stream of consciousness opinions with no repercussions.


9. Follow along with a far-fetched metaphor. The beat reporter, a usually nerdy guy (sorry Nate Summers) follows one team. Usually a he, the reporter travels with the team, stays after practice and scratches for nuggets of information considered news worthy. He interacts with players, often taking verbal abuse from athletes upset with a published story. He has to be careful with his word selection to not burn future sources. Equate him the cattle farmer, supplying the nation with meat through hard work and tireless dedication.

The blogger (can be anybody) may or may not link the reporter’s story. Instead, he adds his spin on the subject, which in turn other people read. It’s conjecture based upon unqualified opinions. It’s talk radio’s call-in opinions in textual form for everyone to consume. The blogger is the chef who spices the news/meat up through creativity. Still following?


10. Remember when Sportscenter was a necessity in keeping up with the headlines? It was the first of its kind, when ESPN brought a highlight show of national sports directly into living rooms. ESPN, which was founded in 1979, still is the world’s network sports leader. But Sportscenter’s relevancy is decreasing with each passing day and it’s the web’s fault.

Fans on the west coast want to see highlights about the Lakers while Wisconsin natives want updates on Brett Favre’s retirement status. With the web, fans can seek information rather than watch a half-hour show. Not to mention, fans can receive up-to-second updates on game situations and scores instead of waiting to catch the 10 a.m. rerun.

Once the TV clips leave the infant stages on the web, the migration from print and TV to the World Wide Web will be complete. Say goodbye 6:30 pm news, meet on-demand clips. News gathering and reporters will still be in demand, but the society will .


11. Anna Benson’s publicist should get a gold medal. It’s sad when the stay-at-home wife trumps the popularity of her soon-to-be-divorced husband Kris Benson, who pitches for the Baltimore Orioles.

Eric Gilmore