Coaching Fraternity
Comes Full Circle

by Eric Gilmore

Until Sept. 3, Skip Holtz can claim bragging rights over Duke head coach Ted Roof. In a different place and a different time, Holtz’s University of Connecticut teams knocked down the University of Massachusetts twice in the mid-1990s. Roof, defensive coordinator of the Minutemen in 1995 and 1996, can claim a 39-38 victory over Holtz in 1996.

A few grey hairs and a decade later, Roof finds himself as the Duke head coach in Holtz’s ECU debut.

“We have a great challenge this week,” said Holtz. “Coach Roof has done a great job to build that program. They are a much improved football team from where they’ve been. Every year, they just keep getting better and better.”

Roof’s 4-12 overall record might not dictate that. But ask ECU fans about Roof’s coaching abilities. Roof has never coached against ECU in Greenville, but did manage to ruin ECU’s 2002 season in Durham. Roof was Duke’s defensive coordinator in a rain drenched 23-16 Duke upset victory.

Heck, Roof almost donned the purple and gold. When John Thompson was hired late in 2002, he promised then-chancellor William Muse that he would bring Roof in as defensive coordinator. Fearing Carl Frank’s near departure, the deal was almost a slam dunk.

However, something went awry during the hiring process. Thompson instead announced then-Florida linebackers coach Jerry Odom ECU’s defensive coordinator. Roof was later named interim head coach in 2003 when Franks was fired with four games remaining.

Despite the close call, Holtz and his new staff have tried to protect the element of surprise going into the first game. The media was excluded from all practices and scrimmages to ensure full secrecy. But with no concrete film, does ECU really have the advantage?

Rick Smith, the secondary coach for ECU, knows Roof well. After all, Smith was his coach. Smith who has served as the defensive coordinator at seven different Division I-A institutions, was the secondary coach at Georgia Tech from 1982 to 1985. Roof, an 1987 Georgia Tech alum, was a standout linebacker for the Yellow Jackets.

Smith also coached current Duke assistant head coach and defensive back coach Glenn Spencer when he suited up while at Georgia Tech.

Steve Shankweiler revealed on the Skip Holtz Television Show that he tried to recruit Roof when he was a standout prospect entering college. Shankweiler’s last stint as offensive coordinator ironically was at Georgia Tech from 1992 to 1994.

The connections don’t stop. Shankweiler served on the coaching staff with current Duke offensive line coach Dan Yanowsky, who spent 2001 and 2002 at ECU.

Another player suspended:

Similar to Jamar Flournoy, freshman offensive lineman Mike Williams will not play for the Pirates this season. Skip Holtz announced during his Monday press conference that the situation will be held internally.

“We’re trying to build a program,” Holtz said. “Allowing student athletes to do things that don’t represent this university and not take any action is going to defeat what we’re tying to do in the long run. That’s why I’ve taken two pretty strong stances on the two situations that we’ve had.

Eric Gilmore