Changes In Store for Pirate Football

by Troy Dreyfus

It was just over a week ago we all got to take our first look at ECU football under the Skip Holtz regime. Sure it’s still early, and there’s much work to be done, but you get a feeling the ship is at least moving in the right direction for the first time in over 3 years.

Maybe it’s just me, but does this time of year always get you excited about the fall?  Right now we sit undefeated, and maybe, just maybe, we can find a way to win more than we lose this year.  I can’t guarantee that will happen this season, but there are some changes in store for the fall.

New for ’05:
#1- Stadium Announcer
Did you notice the voice over the stadium PA?  Sound familiar??  It was. It was the voice of Morgan Ahlers, the same person that does the stadium PA for ECU basketball games. Morgan is a regular on the 1250 sports team, and will take over the stadium announcing for ECU football beginning this fall.  This was a great choice by the ECU Athletic Dept.  No one can ever replace John C. Moore as the all-time greatest stadium PA guy ever… but Morgan knows and loves ECU, and will do an outstanding job keeping the fans in the stands up to date on the action on the field.  His “first down…..PIRATES” is not that bad either!

#2- Uniforms
Skip Holtz made an appearance on “Live @ 5” last week and talked about the uniform changes.  ECU will have new uni’s for the fall.  The spring game is the last time you will see last year’s uniform.  I suggest they have a team cookout and burn one of those jerseys to exorcize the demons!

We will go back to a more “classic” look.  One of the biggest changes is the helmet.  The helmet will remain purple, and the facemask this season will be purple too.  I have not seen this yet, but insiders that have say it looks really sharp.

The big change on the jersey is no names will be on the back.  Did you hear me Morgan?  That will make it tougher for some fans to keep up with players, but may help boost program sales, in addition to build on the “team theme”, not individuals, as Holtz wants. “I want to go to a much more traditional uniform.  East Carolina will still be on the front.  I told the players that we will have numbers.  I was contemplating just putting like DB, QB or OL on the jerseys.  I told them we will have numbers,” Holtz jokingly told Pirate Radio.  “The name on the front means a lot more than the name on the back,” Holtz added.  He sounded a lot like Coach Herb Brooks during the 1980 USA hockey- miracle on ice season, but hey, it worked for him!

#3- Strength and Conditioning
Many in the Pirate Nation have been concerned on how physical we’ve been in the 4th quarter the last few years.  Holtz brings a new philosophy to that program.  John Greico is the man currently in charge of the program.  Former Coach John Thompson hired him just over a year ago.  John is one of the nicest guys you could meet outside of the weight room.  His role here at East Carolina is solid, and I know he is eager to work with the new coaches, and new systems. 

When asked about that program, Holtz said, ”I think we have a little flexibility right now in that there is a position that’s there that has been left open.  I was asked by the athletic department, by Terry Holland and Nick Floyd, to sit down and evaluate John Greico who I think has done an excellent job.  He’s totally in the boat, he’s got both feet in the boat.  I think there will be some changes there, meaning there is a position available that they did not want to fill until they got the basketball and football coaches hired to get everything together.  Then everybody can get on the same page with the direction we want to go in the weight room instead of just trying to make a knee-jerk reaction.”
Many Pirate fans still want to see former strength coach Jeff Connors back on campus.  Well, they got their wish last week.  Jeff was on campus for the spring game, and even handed out t-shirts to his former players.  I saw these shirts and they looked awesome.  The back of the shirt said “ECU Football… Decade of Dominance”, referring to his years here in the 90’s.  The front looked just as good.  The word I hear is Jeff is getting tired of the scene in Chapel Hill and would love to move his family back to Greenville if given the opportunity.  We’ll just have to wait and see if Connors could be the one to fill that open position Holtz referred to. 

#4- The Cannon
Well, it’s official, the cannon works!  I’m not sure what the ROTC guys have done, but the cannon in the end zone is the loudest I have ever heard.  I thought some people in the section I was sitting in were going to have a heart attack after each score.  Talk about your “shock and awe”, they’ve got it covered with the cannon this season!  

#5- Business-like approach
Last season we seemed to be disorganized, and our coaches made bad decisions at bad times.  This season, times have changed.  Holtz brings a refreshing business-like approach and an attention to detail that has been lacking the past few years. 

When asked about it, here’s what Holtz said, “Being a business major, I feel like the president of the company, the most important thing I can do is hire 10 managers.  They are the ones that are going to have one-on-one individual meeting time with those players.  As we’ve gone through spring, I’ve met with the players individually but those coaches are with them anywhere from an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes every day before they go out on the field.  They watch film, meet with them and go through everything.  I think my position players right now are my ten coaches.  I need to coach them; I need to see the direction of where we’re trying to go so we’re all going in the same direction with everything.  From my standpoint after that, I’ve got to coach the attitude of this team as a head coach.”

Expect big improvement in the “game management” skills of this coaching staff versus last year. Here’s hoping the biggest change this season is in the win column!

Troy Dreyfus