Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tudor's Take: Holtz, Cincy have a history

East Carolina coach Skip Holtz turned down Cincinnati in 2007, and Pirate fans hope history repeats itself.

Cincinnati is the latest school to eye Holtz; last week it was Kansas.

Holtz elected to stay at ECU in '07, rejecting a jump to the Big East and a BCS conference. The Bearcats ended up with Brian Kelly, from Central Michigan, instead of Holtz.

The Bearcats won two straight conference titles under Kelly. Still the program has more liabilities than assets, even though promising quarterback Zack Colloras, a redshirt sophomore, threw for 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns while starting four times in relief of senior star Tony Pike.

Along with Kelly, who left last week to take the Notre Dame job, some 16 seniors are moving out of a program that has won 16 straight regular-season games and went 34-6 in three seasons under Kelly.

Against Florida in the Sugar Bowl, the Bearcats are expected to start 11 seniors and five juniors. Kelly won big despite playing home games in the Big East's smallest facility -- 35,000-seat Nippert Stadium.

Another factor will be future non-conference schedules. In 2010, the Bearcats are set for N.C. State (in Raleigh), Oklahoma (in Cleveland), Miami of Ohio (home) and at Fresno State.

The 2011 lineup is N.C. State (home), at Tennessee, Albany (home), at Miami of Ohio. So far, the 2012 card includes Ohio State and Virginia Tech.

In addition to Holtz, the Bearcats are interested in Central Michigan's Butch Jones, interim coach Jeff Quinn, Temple's Al Golden, Cincinnati Bengals assistant Mike Zimmer and former Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, who would be a long-shot dream.

Jones, who met with Cincinnati athletics director Mike Thomas on Monday, has much fan support, due in part to the fact that Kelly previously coached Central Michigan. In three seasons at the school, the 41-year-old Jones is 22-12 overall but 20-3 against Mid-American Conference opponents.

Holtz, 45, is 76-49 overall and 38-26 at ECU. His teams have won two straight Conference USA championships and will face Arkansas in the Jan. 2 Liberty Bowl. -- Caulton Tudor


Mark said...

Keep wishing ACC fans. No coach has left ECU in 18 years for another school.

Recruits. This is an annual game played by the local newspapers to try to fool you into going to ACC schools over ECU.

Jim said...

Hey Tudor... You actually thought Shanahan's name is in the mix??? You're an idiot.