Holland's Response

by Eric Gilmore

Let me preface my article by stating that I firmly believe Terry Holland is the best athletic director ECU has ever had. In one year, he has changed the overall attitude on campus and that of the athletic department.


With that being said, Holland did respond via e-mail to my controversial article entitled “Holland needs to cater to student’s concerns.”  As usual, Holland is open to constructive debate. Fresh off an argumentative childhood, so am I.


I wrote the article, which unfortunately many of you did not get to see in its truest form, trying to protect the student’s rights. I accused Holland of forgetting about the students in light of the Circle of Excellence. My point was to not create division among the Pirate Nation, but instead attempt to protect students’ rights.


I may have gone about it in the wrong way. I chose a public forum to ignite a backlash rather than talking privately with Holland. I included the Student Pirate Club Executive Board, which did not share my same sentiments. And for that, I apologize.


But at the same time, I don’t like the gang mentality that the athletic department sometimes enforces with what is filtered to the media. The beauty of Pirate Radio’s daily articles is the fresh opinions from the local sports experts.


Aside from a couple of editorials in the newspaper, many of these same media experts are forced to withhold their opinions in delivering the daily news. If they do voice their real opinions in a public venue (much like I did), they are slaughtered on internet message boards. But at the same time, they have to weigh their opinion, which might ruffle some feathers, versus having a continued working relationship with athletic personnel.


I sometimes feel like football’s long snapper. This is my sixth published article this week. I’ve written five articles from features to recaps and previews and not a soul has a problem with them. Of course, all five of them have a positive tone. But it is the sixth article when the ball sails over the punter’s head and everyone starts shooting blame.


The same applies in another article I wrote for The East Carolinian on Wednesday. The article entitled “Liberty Bowl officials out of line” is linked HERE. Similarly, the backlash has been is in full force including feedback from a Marshall beat writer. Yes, Boise State is in the WAC rather than the Mountain West as the article mentions. That’s my editor and mine’s bust. However, the previous tie-in did pit the champions of the Mountain West and C-USA.


I stand by my opinion. While its dandy that C-USA secured the Liberty Bowl, it’s still not great that ECU is not in a BCS conference. ECU fans can spin it any way they want to, but I can’t come around to playing a mediocre SEC team if ECU wins the conference championship. Not our ECU.


Yes, I said mediocre. That’s what C-USA will get at best. The AutoZone Liberty Bowl is not a New Year’s Day bowl. For the exception of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, the rest of the SEC affiliated top bowls are on New Year’s Day or afterwards.


Say for example that the new AutoZone Liberty Bowl tie-in occurred last year. Yes, the now BCS inclusion would have helped a one-loss Louisville team. But, C-USA would have been most likely matched up with a 6-5 Alabama team. The same Alabama team that lost 20-16 to Minnesota in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl. Which is a better opponent, undefeated Boise State or a 6-5 Alabama?


In 2003, the C-USA champion USM (9-4) would have taken on a 7-5 Auburn squad. Instead, USM lost 17-0 to Utah. Utah was 10-2 on the season. Again, which is a better national match-up?


Yes, the fans will flock to Memphis. But nationally, will the game merit the media attention of two conference champions? No. Regionally, the game will be a smash. Big whoop. Until people are watching the Liberty Bowl because of its national interest, it will mean nothing. Not to mention the nasty rumor that the bowl officials won’t allow in-state teams to play each other.


Believe it or not, Holland and I are both on the same page. We are trying to advance ECU’s cause as much as possible. Until regular fans recognize differing opinions are positive, they will continue to be ostriches with their necks in the sand.

Eric Gilmore