The virtually-empty stands at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium at the end of a 55-31 loss to Southern Methodist on Saturday were testimony to the general dissatisfaction with the football program’s performance as the Pirates fell to 3-7 overall and 1-5 in the American Athletic Conference with their seventh loss in eight games.
Five turnovers helped assure that ECU fell short of the six wins required for bowl eligibility.
Athletic director Jeff Compher fired alumnus Ruffin McNeill after the Pirates went 5-7 last year and 3-5 in the AAC.
The purpose in making a coaching change is to improve performance, which won’t happen in 2016.
The ball falls in the court of first-year chancellor Dr. Cecil Staton, who it appears will be instrumental in making a decision on whether Compher’s contract will be renewed.
In that regard, there is a segment of the fan base that is interested in bringing Scott Wetherbee back to ECU. Wetherbee is interim AD at Mississippi State. He was senior associate AD for external affairs at MSU before taking on his current duties. Wetherbee was previously at ECU as assistant AD for marketing and ticket operations.
Compher has made some good moves at ECU, a $16.5 million contract with Adidas and the hiring of baseball coach Cliff Godwin among them.
I like first-year football coach Scottie Montgomery personally and professionally. He has a good staff that ultimately has the potential to improve the program through recruiting.
But Montgomery may only get one or two more years to produce if Compher, who apparently has interviewed elsewhere repeatedly, leaves on his own accord or is dismissed. A new AD may want to go forth with his own hire, similar to what former ECU athletic director Terry Holland did when he jettisoned John Thompson late in the 2004 season after two years as Pirates football coach and brought in Skip Holtz.
Losses create problems and winning solves them as former ECU coach Steve Logan said.
One problem on the immediate horizon would seem to be funding an ambitious renovation of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, a Compher concept that was introduced last spring. Over the years, Pirate supporters traditionally have been more willing to get out their check books for such projects when they relate to program success.
A win over Navy on Saturday or a season-ending triumph at Temple on Nov. 26 could help restore some much-needed confidence in the Pirates.
Seven losses in the last eight games definitely has created an undesirable situation.