It’s beginning to look more and more likely that Scottie Montgomery will be back as the football coach at East Carolina again next season.
This is neither an endorsement of the job Montgomery has done to date nor an opinion based on the team’s performance in Saturday’s 37-10 loss to undefeated Central Florida, though there were at least a few encouraging aspects to come out of the Pirates’ homecoming performance.
Rather, it’s a reasonable assumption rooted in the reality of current circumstance and last week’s admission by “special advisor” Dave Hart that there is still “no timetable” for hiring hiring a permanent athletic director.
With no search committee in place and no apparent hurry in finding a replacement for Jeff Compher seven months since he was unceremoniously shown the door, it is almost a certainty that a new AD will not be in place by the time the current football season ends.
Theoretically, Hart could end up being the one that makes the determination on Montgomery’s future since, according to his published job description, he is charged with providing operational and strategic guidance to chancellor Cecil Staton relating to all aspects of the athletic program.
And he was the man that pulled the trigger on the hiring of basketball coach Joe Dooley last April.
But that coaching search was already well underway by the time Hart entered the picture. All he had to do was come in and close the deal.
In the case of Montgomery and the football program, Hart would be the one that creates the opening. Whether or not Hart would be the one that fills the position would then be uncertain, since his current three-month extension is set to expire on Dec. 15.
It should also be noted that because of the new early signing period, any coaching change made or even being discussed around mid-December could severely damage the current recruiting cycle and set any rebuilding process back at least a full year.
If not more.
Even if Staton extends Hart again, his interim status will likely preclude him from making such an important personnel decision.
Having been an athletic director himself, including a stint at ECU from 1987-95, Hart knows that the last thing an incoming leader wants or needs is to be saddled with a newly installed coach he didn’t hire.
Besides, in an interview with Bonesville.net this summer, Hart seemed to imply that the ECU’s administration was just as much to blame as Montgomery — if not more so — for the back-to-back 3-9 records through which the Pirates suffered in the rookie coach’s first two seasons with the Pirates.
“Scottie is doing his part recruiting. Now we’ve got to help him,” Hart said at the time. “We’ve got to help all of our coaches compete in the American (Athletic Conference), because at some point it’s pretty simplistic. You’re either going to be a player or you’re going to be on the sidelines. We want to be a player. The chancellor wants us to be a player.
“Right now, though, we’re largely on the sidelines. We’ve got to get to the point where we can create enough financial support to erase any or the voids that exist in recruiting. That’s critically important. We have some holes there.”
Some of those holes are already being filled, most notably through the upgrades to the team’s locker room and training facilities inside the Ward Sports Medicine Building. The depth of the Pirates’ talent pool has also been improved with two strong recruiting classes and another one in the process of being assembled.
It’s undeniable that progress has been made, but there comes a point in which progress must begin to be measured in wins.
That time could conceivably come this season with several winnable games still to play and an exciting young quarterback being given the opportunity to inject some energy into a program desperately in need of anything to be excited about.
More likely, however, is that judgment day for Montgomery and his staff is still at least a year away. Assuming, of course, that ECU has a full-time athletic director by then.
You are ignoring Hart’s comment that 40K fans would determine Montgomery’s fate. The poor ticket sales and attendance, which will worsen as the weather gets colder, show that fans are sending a message to the Chancellor and BOT and it is not a message of approval. Another year could financially devastate the program and the students are not going to continue to pay for the administration’s mistakes. Fans won’t be back when the only “progess” seen is coming back marginally from the previously uncharted depths that this head coach has taken the program to.
Paul H Gibbs (@PaulHGibbs1) says
It should be obvious to the administration that Scott Montgomery can not get the job done. Given another year the program will be irreparably damaged. I can’t believe that coach Montgomery will do anything but further damage the program by being kept for the 2019 season. Give him a chance to be successful at another collage or university.
Assuming the rumors are true that Hart is about to be named AD or some Chancellor of Athletics title that basically means AD he’ll have the power and ability to make a decision on Mo. Now I think he’s prefer to not have to fire him, but I think he’s likely gotta get to 5-7 or better to be able to sell to an already beaten down fan base that this is one year from turning around. I think it might very well be 1 year from a breakout, but 3-9, 3-9, and then something like 3-9 or 4-8 makes that an impossible sell with the new expansion opening up next year.
Weary Pirate. says
Holton is a winner! Sure would like to see him have a coach – Our D coach would be a great interim – He has earned it! Mo, just seems lost to me. When we ran 4 QB runs in a row the other night, I was just praying we didn’t put our future in harms way. That is ridiculous. He is not a fullback! No imagination – I’d like to see this team and these players have a real leader. No reason for us to be losing. CF was not that good IMO. Jump pass? Good grief, it’s like a bad JV team. Sure like to see a punt returned for a change.
The Kidd says
It has been a while since I really looked forward to basketball season………..
This article is reality. It’s not practical for us to make a change now. There is not a decent head coach that would step into this environment right now without a permanent AD and with this non-supportive fan base. If you are a true Pirate fan, I have no idea how you can withhold support financially and not show up to pull for your Pirates. How can anyone possibly think either is helpful?!?! Too many people associate Ruff’s firing with Mo. Coach Mo had nothing to do with it. I assume Compher made the decision based on some upper echelon financial supporters that wouldn’t get behind the Southside renovation project without his dismissal. Ruff would have stayed forever but that ship has sailed. I’m so happy things have worked out for him at OU. Again, none of this is really Mo’s fault. He landed a position he probably wasn’t ready for, however, we’ve now provided 3 years of on the job training. If you haven’t seen improvement this year, then you just are too jaded to look at it realistically. Think about if our offense improves over the last half of the year and going into next year as much as our defense did in the off season, where will we be? We will be moving back to the Pirates we all love. While there will always be coaching decisions we all question, the majority of issues I have seen so far had more to do with our players executing than with coaching. For instance, our receivers need to step up big time to help our young quarterbacks out. These guys need to look at some tape of Dwayne Harris, Justin Hardy and Zay Jones who have set the benchmark. We have 3 winnable games and then need to find a way to beat Cincy or the Pack to become bowl eligible. I’ll be pulling hard for that. Getting a bowl would be a huge step in the right direction. It would essentially provide our young players with another “spring practice” which will only help them grow. I played football at ECU, I graduated from ECU, I support the Pirate Club, I have football season tickets and I was there Saturday night and will be for the last 2 home games (BTW, I’ll also be in Raleigh since there is no way in hell State make s the ACC Champ game). Let’s stop all the negative nonsense and get behind OUR PIRATES!!
Sherrie McClenney says
Well said…thank you for this!
Finally, sensible and thoughtful comments! I’m still on board! Count me in for two more in Greenville, and a win in Raleigh!
Todd Crouch says
I will never forget my Junior year at ECU when my parents issued a summons for a family meeting; explaining that after paying 4 years of tuition without a degree they would need an action plan on how I was going to turn my fun times around at ECU or they weren’t going to continue to fund my destruction. I graduated 3 semesters later. My point is that I fail to see the logic behind continuing to write checks to the exact same group that has put us on this path without first hearing anything that leads us to believe things are going to change.
I hear people talk about support for the players but if we cared about our players would letting an 18yr old redshirt freshman throw away a year of eligibility to salvage a coach be considered a better route to development?? I hate to see Pirate nation so divided but I think there needs to be some dramatic and swift changes made to start building on.
Irish Spectre says
How many OL starters were out Sat. night, at least two?? That was the biggest problem, no running whatsoever, except by HA. The d has improved immensely from last year, but still has a ways to go in the secondary. I was thinking (as someone has already said) that Mo needs to collect a bare minimum of 5 wins this year to survive, and they have it in them to do that, but the external realities that this analysis considers undoubtedly are more favorable to Mo staying than not.
You have to put a decent competitive product on the field for the fans to come and spend their hard earned money . Sure us diehard Pirates will always pull for the Purple and Gold but poor coaching and poorly unprepared performances are not what good football teams and programs do……our program is headed in the wrong direction and moving further that way quickly. A change at the top is all that can fix this problem.
Anonomous Insider says
Offensively I’d the issue Coach Mo or the Offendive Coordinator?
What’s seems very strange to me is that we keep losing with homegrown talent and speed standing idle on the sideline every game while we run the same offense plays each game. So what if they are freshmen? Many of the huge programs like Alabama field freshmen every week. Why is Brown returning the ball ever?
The Kidd says
So, for the first time, App State is in the top 25. Maybe we need their AD!
The answer to whether Coach Mo is going to return next year or not should be answered over the remaining 5 games. If Coach Mo gets us to 5 wins (winning 3 of the remaining games), then IMO he should return for his 4th year. If he can’t get to 5 wins (after promising 6) then its hard to see how his 4th year can be justified. Whether there is an AD in place or not should not be a factor. If having an AD was that important, then the Administration should have hired one. It’s not like they didn’t know this was going to be a possibility. The fact that we still don’t have an AD after almost 8 months shows me that they don’t think it is that important, athletics doesn’t stand still just because there is no AD in place. Imagine this scenario: there is a real possibility that we wind up the season at 3-9 for the third year in a row. How do you think the fans would react to the Administration saying “we can’t make any changes because we don’t have an AD in place”. Do you think fans would see this as good leadership on their part? Or would they see it as just another example of a failure of leadership?
Even Nick Sagan would be fired if he put together 3 seasons this hopeless.