04/20/05 — Holtz to-the-point regarding ECU's future

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Holtz to-the-point regarding ECU's future

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 20, 2005 1:58 PM

A no non-sense coach who is a chip off the old block, Chip Holtz didn't mince words when discussing the upcoming football season at East Carolina University on Tuesday evening.

Out-spoken and articulate, much like his dad Lou, the energetic Holtz honestly informed members of the Wayne-Lenoir/Greene County Pirate Club Chapter that the Pirates "had a long way to go."

However, Holtz is definitely optimistic.

Holtz commented the attitude, the work ethic, the enthusiasm and the energy level are all in place. But he quickly added that injuries have depleted the depth chart on offense, forcing him to put third-string players in action with either the first or second string.

Fans queried about the quarterback situation and Holtz truthfully admitted that remained a question mark. James Pinckney has been suspended academically and cannot return to the team until he has met his classroom requirements.

Patrick Pinckney continues to recover from a right-shoulder injury that has prevented him from taking snaps in practice.

Holtz also commented on the secondary, which has been a defensive weakness each of the past two seasons. Again, he verified his concern, but summed up the secondary would be much improved.

Fans intently listened as Holtz commented he wasn't going to fall into the trap of a three- or four-year plan. He wants the current senior class to experience a great season and erase that 3-23 cloud hanging over the program right now.

"I learned a poem when I was growing up and where we are right now kind of reminds me of a lot of this poem with the decisions that we have," Holtz said.

The poem begins:

"I saw a group of men in my hometown;

"I saw a group of men tearing a building down;

"With a heave and a ho, and a mighty yell;

"They swung a beam and the side wall fell;

"And I asked the foreman 'are these men skilled?' ...

Holtz finished the poem that concluded "I can tear down in a day or two what it takes a builder 10 years to do. And I asked myself as I walked away, which these roles do I choose to play?"

Holtz, undoubtedly, feels he can rebuild the Pirate football program and make it a top-20 contender each season. At first, he wasn't too keen on coaching at ECU, but once he toured the campus and saw the growth, he immediately switched gears.

Holtz had dinner with athletics director Terry Holland, wanting to know "how can I be part of this?"

Since then, Holtz has revamped the coaching staff. He's assembled top-notch offensive and defensive personnel from quality college and professional programs throughout the nation.

"They said Moses died leaning on his staff and that's what I'm going to do," Holtz said. "The thing that is most impressive about this staff, with as much experience as they have, is that they've checked their egos at the door ... they've walked away from higher-profile jobs.

"The relationship and comradery of that staff right now is 10 times better than I could have ever put together or ever imagined. The one ingredient everybody is talking about as they come to Greenville is they see the excitement, they see the enthusiasm, they see the growth and they see the way you (the fans) are supporting this program right now.

"It's amazing what that does for us. It's a tremendous honor for me to have the opportunity to be the gatekeeper for East Carolina football and the responsibility we have on our shoulders."

Holtz thanked the crowd, a little sparse due to the ECU-UNC baseball game, for its support of Pirate athletics. He autographed two footballs awarded in a live auction and continued to answer questions once the banquet had ended.

East Carolina opens its season Sept. 3 at home against Duke and kicks off its Conference USA schedule Oct. 1 against Southern Miss. The 11-date calendar includes five home contests, with three in October.