The losses continue to take their toll on the East Carolina football program, and now head coach Scottie Montgomery appears to be a beaten man.
On a week when the Pirates face a bitter in-state rival, Montgomery was pretty much only asked about his coaching future at his weekly Monday news conference. This was anything but a normal Monday.
Some of those questions were answered via the short and sweet route. Several others weren’t so sweet.
When asked if he had been in discussions with Chancellor Cecil Staton or Special Advisor to the Chancellor Dave Hart, Montgomery fired back, “If I’ve had any conversations, those are private conversations.”
When asked if he felt the most pressure he’d ever faced this week (vs. N.C. State) he laid out a definitive, “No.”
When asked if he would play freshman wide receiver Tyler Snead this week, the coach simply said, “Yes.”
There were other short answers, but you get the idea.
Rumors continue to circulate about changes coming. We do know that the ECU Board of Trustees will meet on Wednesday, Nov. 28, to hear updates regarding personnel and legal matters and to take any related action. The board expects to move into closed session to consider confidential personnel information and consult with legal counsel.
That would certainly indicate that something is in the works. Chancellor Staton had said that he wanted a new director of athletics in place before the end of the football season, so the announced meeting plays into that strategy.
Still, there is a football game to play this Saturday in Raleigh. While it won’t save the season or probably anyone’s job, a win over the Wolfpack is never a negative in Pirate Nation.
“N.C. State is a tremendously talented team,” said Montgomery in part of his opening comments on Monday. “Defensively in their front seven, they’re as big and strong and can run as well as any of the teams that we’ve seen. Offensively, their quarterback position is as accurate as anyone we’ve gone against and their receivers are as talented as anybody we’ve gone against. So, we’re going to have to do a good job of being mobile on defense.”
The Pirates are 24-point underdogs in the game. That’s an odd number when you look at last week’s N.C. State win over North Carolina. The Wolfpack needed overtime to beat a Tar Heels team that the Pirates took to the woodshed in week two of the season, 41-19.
Last year the Pirates dropped a 70-13 decision to Memphis in the season finale. After that game Coach Montgomery promised a ‘bowl game’ in 2018. That promise was long ago unfulfilled when ECU dropped a 56-6 decision to Cincinnati on ‘Black Friday.’
Coach Mo realizes his team didn’t come close to his bowl promise.
“Yeah, we haven’t,” he acknowledged. “That’s the truth; it’s frustrating for a lot of reasons. We’re frustrated because we feel like we have some players that can play at a high level, and unfortunately they’ve been injured. We feel that we have some young guys coming on and playing well. They haven’t been able to do it at the same time. At the end of the day, that’s what our job is to do, to make all of that happen.”
What the Pirates hope to do now is pull off the upset in Raleigh, and then we’ll all wait and see what happens next.
Stay tuned. The end of the season provides many more questions than answers, at least this week.