Skip Holtz jumps ECU for USF

Fascinating story developed in Greenville the last 24 hours…and the ‘main stream media’ took another punch to the face when ‘AOL’s Fanhouse’ – a blog platform that SFN was invited to join when it was first formed – is credited for breaking the news that Skip Holtz is leaving East Carolina for South Florida.

Here’s the link to ESPN’s story.

Holtz replaces Jim Leavitt, who was fired earlier this month after a school investigation concluded he grabbed a player by the throat, slapped him in the face, then lied about it. Holtz compiled a 38-27 record in five seasons with the Pirates, including wins in the past two Conference USA championship games and high-profile victories against Virginia Tech and West Virginia in 2008.

Holtz was under contract through the 2013 season and had only a $100,000 buyout. He made $605,000 in base salary this year, though that figure rose to nearly $900,000 due to several incentives.

You can’t blame Skip for wanting to be able to play in a better conference and try to put together ‘real teams’.

Skip has truly built ECU into the class of Conference USA as the Pirates have won back to back Championships (helped by a quarterback, Patrick Pickney, who I believe starts drawing social security this year as he seemed to have more NCAA eligibility than any quarterback in history).

But, one has to wonder if Skip Holtz ultimately recognized what being ‘the class of Conference USA’ really meant — not a whole lot when a conference Championship game that is played on school’s home field attracts only 22,740 in 2008 and 33,048 fans in 2009 (despite being played in Greenville where the media would be the first to tell you the Pirates are some of the best fans in America).

Consider for a moment that the two-time C-USA Champions have lost four games in a row to generally weak ACC teams while compiling a 2-8 record in their last 10 games against the ACC (with their two wins coming on last minute/second plays and by a combined margin of only 7 points). The Pirate team that was good enough to win C-USA in 2008, was bad enough to lose to both NC State and Virginia (2-6 in ACC play) – both of whom finished last in each of their respective divisions in the ACC.

Losing 28 seniors this year after two consecutive bowl losses to unmotivated SEC schools representing the TENTH and final bowl choice from the conference, you can believe Skip knew that it was time to move out ECU’s limitations of being a relatively nice sized midget in C-USA.

The short analysis of the move is summarized by Canus Lupus on this thread on our message boards:

Bad Move –
USF ain’t all that!

Good Move –
1. Big East is ripe to be beat.
2. ECU is graduating 28 players.
3. No proven replacement for their QB.
4. Lost his DC (huge!).
5. Very dumb fanbase with respect to football knowledge. The boo birds would have been wanting him fired if he went 6-6 next year.