Family Ties

FAYETTEVILLE -- East Carolina coach John Thompson began his second job as a mediator in Greenville, N.C., this week.

The Forrest City native and Central Arkansas alum had no choice. Thompson said he's surrounded by bickering Hogs and Gators in his meeting room.

"On our staff, we've got two guys from Florida and both are coordinators," Thompson said. "(Offensive coordinator) Noah Brindise played quarterback at Florida, (defensive coordinator) Jerry Odom played linebacker. And then we've got two Arkansas guys, (former graduate assistants) Matt Graves (defensive backs coach) and (tight ends coach) Steve Janski.

"They've been going at it."

Of course, Thompson has plenty of ties, too. He was on Arkansas' staff from 2000-01 and was hired as Florida's defensive coordinator by coach Ron Zook in 2002.

Thompson was named East Carolina's head coach the next year, but has kept in touch with friends from both schools. Thompson said he was close to Arkansas defensive coordinator Dave Wommack and coached defensive end Jeb Huckeba.

Thompson and his East Carolina staff are preparing for a road trip to Louisville this weekend, with kickoff set at 2 p.m. That leaves little chance for anyone to catch much of the Florida-Arkansas game, which starts at 11 a.m.

That's good news for Thompson. He doesn't know who he'd pull for.

"I'm glad that I'm not involved in it and I'm not anxious to watch it," said Thompson, who described the game as "personal." "I don't think I'm going to feel good with either team losing."

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