A Message From Terry Holland
Oct. 24, 2008
Paraphrasing Charles Dickens "It is (sic) the best of times, it is (sic) the worst of times...."
In the wacky world of college football today, we all knew that the elevator goes up and down but none of us knew how fast that elevator can travel. We think we have had a breathtaking and unexplainable ride but you don't have to go far to find equal roller coasters at Virginia, Maryland, Wake, Clemson and others across the country?
And Top Ten teams aren't exempt - that elevator can even hit warp speed against the same team on the same day - 'Bama wins the first half 31-0 and loses the second half 30-10 at Georgia. This emotional "ride" along with the hope of what the next play or game brings makes college athletics unique and keeps us all coming back.
There is no doubt that the challenges facing coaches today are almost overwhelming under the best of circumstances. No coaching staff or team members could have worked any harder in the weight room and on the field since last January than the Pirate coaching staff and players. And as the coaching staff constantly reminded the players, all that hard work in the weight room and on the field just gets us a ticket to ride. Our off-the-field performance would determine the final score for the season - good or great!
When the team gathered for its first meeting in August, I was given the opportunity to reinforce the coaches' comments by telling the team that the great teams would now separate themselves from the good teams that had all worked so hard in the weight room and on the field. The great teams would accomplish this separation by taking care of business off the field and being just as disciplined in every area of their lives as they are on the football field. Great team chemistry requires great personal sacrifice that creates a bond of trust that extends far beyond the playing field or weight room.
After every game, win or lose, Coach Holtz has offered me the opportunity to say to the team "you have worked hard to build respect for yourselves and this program. Be accountable, don't allow yourself or a teammate to make a poor decision or do anything that gives that hard-won respect back as you celebrate the win (or reflect on the loss)."
It has become disappointingly clear that, like most programs, we are having to learn our lessons the hardest possible way. Part of success is learning from mistakes and mistakes only become failure if we do not learn from them.
There is never a day that I have to worry about our coaches' dedication to this university and their determination to do the right thing, both short term and long term, for this athletic program and for the young men/women who represent us.
The pressures on today's football coaches to win games and to protect the program they are building are extreme, yet I am proud to say that ECU's coaches do their absolute best to balance the needs of the program and the student at the times when competing agendas collide. No one provides more tough love than this coaching staff and no one can be more disappointed when a student lets them and the team down.
The simple truth is that big-time athletics is a complicated, roller coaster world. There are no simplistic solutions like "we need to screen our recruits better." Even the very best football programs and schools that use the whole nation as its recruiting pool cannot find easy answers through the screening/recruiting process.
In today's world, the fan base is such a part of the team, positively and negatively, that in order to succeed, all of us will have to go through this maturing process together. We can let the challenges we face, draw us together by constructively evaluating and learning from the mistakes to get stronger by overcoming them to succeed, or let them be used to divide us through unrealistic expectations and finger-pointing by looking for someone to blame as supporters have done at some other institutions.
I choose to believe that our students, coaches, staff and fans will support each other through the good and bad. This has been the ECU Pirate way to overcome the odds and succeed.
Tough times don't last........tough people do. No one is tougher than a Pirate!
The news clips below are simply facts from the public record and are not meant to rationalize our own failures in any way or to further embarrass colleagues and their programs who are working hard on similar issues. They are provided so that we can all appreciate the seriousness of the problems and the need for collective problem-solving as an athletic department, university and fan base.
CB XXXXXXXXXXX (dismissed from team)