I buy a PowerBall ticket every week, using the same numbers each time.
It’s a system that has yet to pay off.
Once, I actually got three numbers right and it felt as though I was finally getting close to collecting the big jackpot. But several months have gone by since then and it still hasn’t happened.
So I’ve decided to go with a new set of numbers.
After doing the same thing over and over and over again with exactly the same results, there comes a time when you realize the status quo isn’t working and a change is needed.
When it comes to the East Carolina football program, that time is now.
It’s been three years since Scottie Montgomery was hired to coach the Pirates back to prominence on the gridiron.
Pending the results of one final game at N.C. State this Saturday, the outcomes have been disappointingly consistent — 3-9, 3-9, 3-8.
True, there have been signs of progress, including an improved pass rush courtesy of new defensive coordinator David Blackwell, an exciting young quarterback brimming with confidence and potential in Holton Ahlers, and a general deepening of the overall talent pool.
But other than a brief moment of Senior Night hope against an opponent even lower on the American Athletic Conference food chain than ECU, that progress has failed to yield tangible results in the form of wins.
Montgomery’s record is 9-26, 4-20 against conference competition. It’s a lack of success that can be at least somewhat attributed to his inexperience when he was hired by former athletic director Jeff Compher in December 2015.
To his credit, the young coach has shown progress during his tenure in Greenville, especially in the area of recruiting. His current class is the highest-rated group of prospects ECU has attracted since the Steve Logan coaching era of the 1990s into the early 2000s.
The problem is that it takes more than just good players to become a successful program. It also takes a coaching staff with the ability to develop that talent and put it into a system that gives it the best chance to succeed.
Accomplishing those goals becomes a lot more difficult and time consuming when, as in the Montgomery’s case, the coaches are as much in need of on-the-job training as their players.
There’s no telling how long it will take for Montgomery to grow completely into the job. If it does eventually happen, it’s likely to be at someplace other than ECU.
Saturday’s 56-6 blowout at the hands of Cincinnati, in which the Pirates trailed 42-6 at halftime, is a stark reminder of just how much ground the Pirates still have left to make up against the top teams in the AAC.
Three years is a big enough sample size to conclude that things under the current set of circumstances just aren’t working out and that it’s time to pick a new set of numbers. Or in this case a new leader, preferably one with head coaching experience and an established history of winning.
Up the road in Chapel Hill, it took North Carolina just two nine-loss seasons to pull the trigger and fire a coach that had five bowl trips and a divisional championship on his record. While it cost the Tar Heels $12 million to rid themselves of Larry Fedora on Sunday, it would take only a fraction of that to show Montgomery the door.
That doesn’t change the fact that ECU is in the midst of a serious financial crunch, a situation that would make any kind of buyout difficult for administrators to justify. Even so, the expense of paying off the remainder of Montgomery’s contract isn’t as prohibitive as it might seem.
The cost of a buyout figures to be more than offset by the increase in ticket sales and Pirate Club donations a coaching change would inevitably bring about from a fan base tired of watching their team continue to do the same thing over and over and over again with the same results.
Money, however, might not be the biggest deterrent to change.
Win or lose Saturday in Raleigh, there’s a realistic chance that Montgomery will be retained because of ECU’s lack of a full-time athletic director.
As much faith as chancellor Cecil Staton and the Pirate Nation have in special consultant Dave Hart’s ability to identify and hire a highly qualified candidate, it would be highly imprudent to bring in a new football coach before his future boss is hired.
The new AD, whoever that ends up being, deserves the opportunity to put his own man in charge of the school’s highest profile program.
There’s still time for that needed change to happen now.
But the clock is ticking.
Kirk Edgerton says
Insanity is doing the same thing over (3-9) and over (3-9) and over(3-8) again expecting a different result!!!
John Bland says
Not sure where you get you info for the article, about “there’s a realistic chance that Montgomery will be retained because of ECU’s lack of a full-time athletic director.” That’s an insane statement, and I know you know the facts as well as I do.
Chris Taylor says
It’s really not. Why would we hire a new coach if we don’t have an AD to hire him? You think a new AD wants to come in right after we buy out an existing contract + a new contract for a coach they didn’t hire (on top of an already existing budget deficit)? Nothing insane about stating an unfortunate reality.
Jack Slappey says
If change is not made,I any many others will drop season tickets. Been a holder since 1970
On board the Pirate ship and will go up or down with the Pirate ship. Coach Mo or no Coach Mo. The Compher years are behind us and if our Coaches are clean and the kids are graduating, well good. I want to win as much as the next guy but the AAC is giving ECU the shaft. Funny how all the schools in the AAC that were in the Big 12 conversation awhile back now get all the attention with the game officials and otherwise. The cupboard was bare when Mo got here and a couple of quarterbacks wouldn’t have made the difference. Get the AD in place and then get 2019 in the books and see where we stand. But as Alumni and fans, don’t jump the ship the storm is nearly over.
Mo is many good things. A hard worker, a great recruiter and good with the media. One thing he clearly is not however, is a D1 football coach.
The storm, sadly, is not even close to being over. We won’t get a new football coach till we get a new AD, and we won’t get a new AD until the confusion around the Chancellor’s future is cleared up.
The Kidd says
Don’t forget the Chancellors boss, Margaret Spellings, has resigned after just 2 years, I think effective Jan 1. So, I’m thinking the UNC Board has to hire her replacement, then Staton, then AD, then any changes. SHEESH!
But, no problem. We were there when we broke the countrys’ longest losing streak in the mid 80’s. We were there during John Thompson. Now, after 3 degrees from ECU with our children, we have been taking our grandsons to home games.
These are mostly 18-24 year old guys playing a game. Sure, we take wins and loses seriously. But that isn’t the only reason we go. This is our school, where we met and started our lives. We get to see friends and make new ones. We look forward to taking our grandsons to their first basketball game since we bought season tix this year.
Hang in there Pirate Fans! I guarantee it will get better.
Dan A. says
We are definitely in a tight spot and my initial and emotional response is to fire Coach Mo. The cupboards were not bare when he got here and I’m necessarily blaming Benkerts transfer on Coach Mo it’s just that if he was the motivator and offensive guru we need I think Benkert might have stayed. Especially because offensively we still had Zay Jones. Also with Minshew he knew some serious competition was coming in but if our program was where it needed to be he would have stayed and we could’ve red shirted Ahlers and have him develop more naturally. I just listened to Coach Logan on WRAL and whether you like him or not he has a very high football IQ. He spoke about the perfect storm we are in at ECU. We really don’t have stability at any phase of the university. Rumors of chancellor leaving, no AD, and a coach on the hot seat. This makes getting a quality Coach really difficult right now. Good coach’s want to be hired by an AD and have a strong group at the top. Currently at every level we are unstable. As he put it the pool of quality potential coach’s that will look at ECU currently is much less because of our situation. Which unfortunately leads me to a new thought. We need to punt. In football ball terms we are 4th and 25 from our own 5 yard line. Time to punt get our house in order from AD and chancellor positions. We MUST get a new OC because our current one is vanilla and ride one more year with Coach mo. Hope he recruits well again because I do think he can do that well. It really is a mess but timing is everything and currently it just not the best time to attract the best coach for long term success at ECU.
The Kidd says
Well said. As far as the football program goes the smart move may be to hang tight until we have the proper players on board in the hierarchy.
The Kidd says
What is the deal with our players looking weak, tired, slow and in some cases out of shape? Am I the only one that feels this way?
Irish Spectre says
Anecdotally, it definitely seems to me that injury timeouts are way more skewed toward the Pirates than the opposition; I don’t believe I’m just imagining that.
For those who never played football at the HS or college level its hard to understand as an average fan what players are really going through in a game or season. During another poor season and with a program like ours which is tanking, the physical beating you take being on the bottom end of weekly butt kickings not only takes you down physically but mentally and emotionally. Football is a game of power and control and winning individual battles. You win generally by being better in the lines and physically dominating the player opposite you. This is the only way you can then win as a team. We are consistently getting beaten all over the field on both sides of the ball. Right now we are a weak football team in all phase of the game including coaching and athletic administration. Nothing less than a major change will help get this proud program moving in the right direction.