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.
Douglas Groome says
Al, Maybe ECU will have a Brexit game against Navy. That’s the trend this year. We need for something positive to happen to us.
Richard Edwards says
I hope you are right Doug. Navy has typically cleaned our plow every time we have played them. It would be considered a hugh upset to beat them. I am wondering how many fans are going to stay home this Saturday. I still have not decided. GO….Pirates!
Richard Edwards says
The game against SMU was a “heart breaker”. We were favored by 6 points, but I fully expected a close shootout. They looked very prepared and we did not. I have fully supported coach “Mo,” but can’t help but believe that our AD may have made a bad hire. To say the natives are restless is an understatement. I, like many others, did not expect a great season, but I did not expect anything this bad either. I fully did not expect to beat Navy or Temple, but I did expect use to beat SMU. I’m not sure I am going to get up at six AM and drive three hours to see us get embarased again. Regardless, “GGOOO….PPIRATES”!!!
J Nash says
If the movement for a new AD takes hold, there is one individual, an ECU alum, a Greenville native, who is honing his skills as an AD at a four-year institution. That individual . . . Jeff Barber of Liberty University. Just thinking, oh yeah, the last Pirate who give his heart to the program got fired. Maybe Jeff wouldn’t even consider coming home but he is a fine individual who has worked in athletic departments of (I think) at least 4 institutions of higher learning.
John Stallings says
Compher let’s the basketball team muddle along with no shake up. He then fires a coach who is a ECU alum, former player after a bad year with a third string QB. I think there is more under the surface but that is only speculation. Compher has made to many bad decisions. These decisions have made us unattractive to a power five conference and we are not helping the cause on making the AAC look like a power six member. His decisions have been horrible.
You are correct, John, there are a lot of things Pirate nation doesn’t know about the firing. Remember that the firing had 100% support from the Board of Trustees and the old Chancellor. 100%. Unanimous decision. He should have been fired. Compher keeping quiet about why helped get him hired at Virginia and will save ECU Athletics over a million dollars. I won’t go into it but if you were in Comphers’ shoes you would have fired him too.
Everyone should keep in mind that he hired our baseball coach too. Not too shabby there!
The reason for our situation is simple. Due to injuries we had to go to FOUR former walk ons just on our defense last Saturday! I loved Ruff but you simply will not compete in this new league because you can only recruit 1 star recruits and walk ons. Sure, we’ve been lucky with a few walk ons but does that mean you made a mistake with the recruit that is on scholarship? Hmmmm……
Our problems are obvious if you don’t follow the ball this Saturday. Instead watch our lines on both sides of the ball. You will see. Who can run the ball with no holes to run through? Who can pass the ball when the defense is all over you? Who can catch the ball when your QB has so much pressure he has to release early (there are only a couple of recievers like Zay that has the speed to get to where he needs to be for an early release by the QB. On the other side of the ball there is zero pressure on the QB which puts or DB’s in a helluva bind. When McGill leaves the game the opposing offensive line can open holes you can drive a bus through. Just watch and see.
The early special teams play could be for the same reasons. I think we are now using some skill players to shore up play there.
Coach Mo has a lot of 3 star players coming in. A 4 star just committed. When was the last time that happened? Everyone needs to take a deep breathe, relax, and realize if we can keep these two men (Montgomery and Compher) on the Pirate ship I believe it will lead to something truly special in a couple of years. See you on Saturday!
Richard Edwards says
Interesting commentary Dave. I hope you are right on. For what it is worth, has anyone ever contacted Steve Logan about a job with ECU? Yes, he was screwed over, but without a doubt the best coach we have ever had. He developed average talented players into good to great players and could win with less talent. Just saying.
don tyson says
Dave you nailed it!! I love how our kids compete, they, for the most part have been courageous but the truth is, with the exception of Western Carolina , the difference in talent level, speed and size of opponents and our Pirates is glaring. State especially had far superior athletes, their coach turned out to be our best player that day. Recruiting is by far the biggest reason coaches are terminated. It’s hard work, demanding , odd hours, travel and you are talking to usually cocky kids who have a lot to learn about how thing really work. I love Ruff, who doesn’t, but he didn’t recruit. All the coaches we have terminated, with the exception of John Thompson were fired for not recruiting. I think Thompson recruited 6 players who would go on to play in NFL. ——–Scottie doesn’t have the luxury of getting kids out of high school and red shirting them, he has to go JUCO, and there is usually a reason the kid is in JUCO. Coach Stas told me back in 1968, ” you can enter a hard working plow horse in the Kentucky derby, but you probably ain’t gonna win”. I promise no one hates losing like Scottie, we hired him to recruit, develop kids, build a program, lets allow him to do that and the wins will come.