ECU Releases Official Statement On Skip Holtz

GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina University Head Football Coach Skip Holtz announced Thursday he has accepted the head coaching position at the University of South Florida.

Holtz led the Pirate program to unprecedented heights during his five-year tenure, guiding ECU to four-straight bowl game appearances for the first time in school history. In addition, he led East Carolina to back-to-back Conference USA Championship Game victories for the first time in league history while posting four consecutive winning seasons for the first time since the late 1970s.

After inheriting a program that had recorded just three wins in a 25-game period two-plus seasons prior to his arrival, Holtz compiled a 38-27 record from 2005 to 2009.

A natural result of East Carolina's drastic turnaround on the field, which included a 7-6 finish in 2006, an 8-5 ledger in 2007 and a pair of 9-5 marks in 2008 and 2009, were dramatic school-record attendance increases at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

"Skip Holtz and his family have transformed our expectations of ourselves and our athletic program while contributing to every aspect of our community," ECU Athletics Director Terry Holland said. "They will be missed, but have provided ECU with a solid foundation for future success. It will be up to us to build on that foundation. There has never been any doubt in my mind that the Pirate Nation is the strength of our future and Coach Holtz helped increase the number of members significantly."

While the initial success in 2005 relied heavily on a wide-open offensive assault that produced the school's fourth-best passing attack in history, it was a no-nonsense and fundamentally-sound defensive effort that launched the Pirates back into college football's competitive arena a year later.

Holtz followed by using a combination of both in 2007, offering a well-balanced offense and a run-stopping, ball-hawking defense to lead East Carolina to its highest Conference USA win total in school history at that time, just one shy of earning a berth in the league championship game, despite playing one of the toughest schedules in program history that was loaded with four automatic-qualifying Bowl Championship Series Conference members.

In addition to guiding ECU to its first post-season win since 2000 with a 41-38 victory over No. 24 Boise State in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl, Holtz fine-tuned the efforts of running back Chris Johnson, who turned in the program's first single-season 1,000-yard performance in four years and was college football's national statistical champion in all-purpose yards. Johnson also became the program's second first-round draft choice (first since 1992) in history when the Tennessee Titans selected him with their initial pick in April, 2008.

The Pirates also tallied 403 points during the course of the 2007 season, which marked the highest total in the school's proud history.

East Carolina impressively finished the job in 2008, not only by finally earning a spot in the league's title game, but delivering a knock-out blow to Tulsa on to the road to claim the program's first conference title in 32 years and earning a bid to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. ECU forced seven turnovers against the Golden Hurricane - the nation's top-rated offensive unit coming into the game.

Perhaps more impressive than the early headlines and No. 14 national ranking the Pirates earned after handing No. 17 Virginia Tech and No. 8 West Virginia setbacks to open the season, was Holtz' ability to navigate one injury hurdle after another and keep ECU's focus down the stretch. In all, the Pirates used 44 different starters throughout the year as a total of 15 starters and 26 members of his two-deep were lost for at least one contest during the campaign - five suffering season-ending injuries early or at the midway point of the year. For his efforts, Holtz was deservedly cited as the Conference USA Coach-of-the-Year by the Sporting News.

East Carolina added an exclamation point a year later when it became the first team in league championship game history to post consecutive victories with another win against a top-rated offensive unit.

The Pirates' 38-32 triumph over a nationally-ranked and explosive Houston squad, which was played out in Greenville because of a school-record seven-win conference season, served as a testament to the leadership of Holtz' seniors - a group which were part of his first signing class. ECU again rode the effort of a takeaway-happy defensive unit and an underrated, but efficient offense that rallied from a 3-3 start to post wins in six of its last eight games.

When Holtz became East Carolina's 19th head football coach in the school's all-time history on Dec. 3, 2004, he officially ended a six-year position on the South Carolina offensive staff when he moved to Greenville.

“Skip Holtz has been a great coach and a great Pirate, and we wish him and his family all the best," ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard said. "Skip’s success on the field is well known, but he was also an important force for the university in fund-raising, in the academic performance of student-athletes and in enhancing our relations with the Greenville community.

“We will, of course, miss Skip, and we thank him for his great work here. Now it’s time to look to the future, and I have every confidence that Terry Holland will quickly find a new head coach who will keep our momentum going.”

Holland will address media members Friday to discuss the future of the Pirate program.

"Our search process will begin immediately," Holland added. "We will be seeking a coach who can provide strong leadership and will be able to assemble a staff that will allow us to reach the substantial goals we have set for ourselves."

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  • by It's Me Location: Greenville on Jan 16, 2010 at 02:25 PM
    To: Dave--Terry Holland is the best thing to happen to ECU in a long time. People on this and the ECU boards amaze me. They moan and groan all the time about how we need a big time, agressive AD and then we get one and all they do his critize him. Terry Holland stay at ECU as long as you wish!
  • by Dave on Jan 15, 2010 at 06:24 PM
    I think that Terry Holland needs to step down as well. At his age, he should not be working!
  • by Barry Location: Greenville on Jan 15, 2010 at 03:45 PM
    I'm trusting Mr. Holland to make the right choice here. ECU is in far better hands now in terms of leadership vs. the fiasco that we had in leadership when John Thompson was selected (I can't even bear to mention both former leaders names, indeed mentioning the last cited name may necessitate an advil or so). My 2 cents (which won't buy you a bad cup of coffee with this decision): Golden, Stockstill (yeah, I remember his last episode here, but he was not to blame), Clawson, Bud Foster. Maybe: Tommy Bowden, Greg Hudson. Of course, you can throw caution to the wind, take the PR hit, and see what it would take to tempt an offer to Leach with the DC being Ruffin McNeil (reunite 'em if possible). Whatever the choice, I'll be in DF in the Fall!
  • by Darren Location: Kill Devil Hills on Jan 15, 2010 at 01:24 PM
    I am not so sure if Ruffin McNeill is a good idea and I would not trust Coach Shank in a head coaching position, however would like for him to be still the offensive coordinator. To A1fan, I seriously doubt Bill Cowher will coach any college football anywhere at all, he probably is waiting for that Carolina Panthers Head Coach position to be available, a job he is very highly interested in. To ????, the only way that Coach Godwin would leave the ECU baseball program is if he were to be fired. He was raised in Rocky Mount and his family is from there. He is dedicated to ECU, unlike Skip. The biggest mistake that ECU ever did was to fire Steve Logan. Logan was dedicated to ECU and we had Top 25 finishes under him unlike any of Skip's 5 years here. We should have had not 2, but 4 conference championships when Skip was here, and Top 25 finishes each of those years. Instead even then, Skip let us down like he did yeaterday. I lost respect for him with the way he handled things.
  • by to anonymous @ 751 on Jan 15, 2010 at 10:17 AM
    FYI, every school is a stepping stone. (Tennessee is a good example). There are probably only about 10 college coaching jobs that are considered "destination" jobs. The average coaching tenure is probably less than 5 years. I know you guys like to bash ECU and that is ok. It just shows that you are scared of what we can and are capable of doing.
  • by Anonymous Location: Greenville on Jan 15, 2010 at 08:22 AM
    Why dont ECU go after Mike Leach yea we know what he did and everything. But everyone makes mistake and getting him would be great.
  • by Will Location: Greenville on Jan 15, 2010 at 07:10 AM
    Greg Hudson!! Get him back form FSU and hire him as the head coach. He did a outstanding job as Defensive Coordinator and was a huge part of the 2 championships.
  • by BRYAN SMITH Location: CLINTON on Jan 15, 2010 at 06:48 AM
  • by Stan Location: G'ville on Jan 15, 2010 at 06:26 AM
    What the heck, we have something to talk about, new beginnings can be refreshing, just hope the next coach will carry ECU into a BCS conference. Good luck recruiting Mr. Holland, Go Pirates!!
  • by Hud Location: ECU on Jan 15, 2010 at 06:07 AM
    I sure we could get Coach Hudson back....
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