01/17/10 — Holtz replacement a big decision

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Holtz replacement a big decision

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 17, 2010 12:12 AM

GREENVILLE -- The search begins.

Who is the perfect fit?

East Carolina athletics director Terry Holland addressed the media Friday afternoon and said that Skip Holtz's departure as head football coach "was a bit of a surprise coming at this time of year.

"Most coaching vacancies occur much earlier than this."

Holtz accepted the head coaching position at USF, one week after the school fired Jim Leavitt for allegedly striking a player. The 45-year-old Holtz steered ECU to back-to-back Conference USA championships, four bowl appearances and 38 wins during his five-year tenure.

Holland said the search committee will look at head coaches on the FBS (formerly 1-A) level and then head coaches at the FCS (formerly 1-AA) level. The key is finding someone to fit the university's profile and stay ahead of media speculation.

Holtz set a high standard with his involvement in the community and his replacement will be expected to help market the program. Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is currently undergoing expansion and selling extra season tickets is imperative.

Holland didn't offer a list of candidates, but Twitter and Facebook posts have revealed five possible replacements -- North Carolina native Kevin Wilson, the offensive coordinator and tight ends coach at Oklahoma; Bowling Green head coach Dave Clausen; Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Stockstill; Temple head coach Al Golden and Texas Tech assistant Ruffin McNeill.

It isn't certain whether Holtz will take any assistant coaches to USF.

"I think, again, it's important to thank Skip and his family for all they did in this community and for the East Carolina athletic department," said Holland. "We're going to have to find somebody who can do a heckuva job. We've kept a list all along, everybody does.

"You have to update it every year as coaches leave and accept other jobs. Some also take themselves off the list by having a poor season."

Holland didn't speculate on coaching salary and said it largely depends on experience. Contract negotiations were successful with Holtz, who had a $100,000 buyout clause.

National Signing Day is Feb. 3 and Holland contended that most of Holtz's 22 recruits will keep their commitments. He wouldn't be surprised to see some revisit their options, but their choices are limited since most schools don't have room to add scholarship players.

Holland is confident the school will find a quality replacement.

"People would like to coach here," said Holland. "It's a very attractive job. That's one of the things that gave Skip so many second thoughts about the USF position. That convinced him even more that this is a good job.

"This is a great place to live and everything else. We have an attractive position."

Holtz's successor will be the 20th head coach in ECU history.