East Carolina had its share of great moments during the recently-completed decade.
Success against rivals. Upsets. Game-ending dramatics. The 10-year span had all of that and then some.
There also were other events which had significant impact on Pirate athletics, some of which continue to affect the overall ECU program today.
Here’s a look back at what was celebrated, what was debated and what continues to shape ECU athletics today through its repercussions.
Here are the 10 big events (and some subsets):
10.The frequent pass catching of Zay Jones was exceptional from 2013 to 2016. During his career with the Pirates, the son of a former ECU All-American linebacker Robert Jones, had 399 catches to set an NCAA record. Jones has 110 catches for Buffalo and Oakland thus far in his NFL career
10, a. Before Jones broke the NCAA record for career receptions, the mark was held by Justin Hardy of the Pirates. Hardy had 387 catches from 2011 to 2014. He has 95 career receptions for the Atlanta Falcons.
9. Perfection is not generally associated with the height of human achievement because it seems even the best efforts could have been better in some aspect.
But baseball calls a complete game pitching performance a perfect game when an opponent does not reach base.
Left-hander Jake Kuchmaner became the first Pirate to pitch a perfect game on March 17, 2019, at Maryland.
The bowl win
8. East Carolina went to bowl games in four of the first five seasons of the decade. Only one of those postseason excursions produced a win. That was the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl in St. Petersburg, FL, at Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, on Dec. 23, 2013, when ECU topped Ohio, 37-20.
Vintavious Cooper ran for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Shane Carden completed 29 of 45 passes for 273 yards and one TD without a pick. Carden also caught a 14-yard scoring toss from Cam Worthy.
Run through the regional
7. ECU coach Cliff Godwin cited the percentage of teams that win an NCAA baseball regional after losing their first game and the number was low, but that was the situation the host Pirates faced after falling to Quinnipiac last season.
ECU battled back to beat N.C. State, Quinnipiac and Campbell (twice) to defy the odds, outscoring their foes, 44-11, in the last four games of the regional.
Unfortunately, the Pirates were pretty much out of gas, emotionally and otherwise, for the ensuing Super Regional at Louisville.
Not in Mags’ house
6. Before Russell Wilson led the Seattle Seahawks to a Super Bowl triumph to cap the 2013 season, he made a trip to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium as N.C. State’s quarterback in 2010.
Wilson was in position to orchestrate a win over ECU in overtime after the Pirates had scored a touchdown but failed on the conversion.
Wilson and the Wolfpack were foiled by an interception at the goal line by freshman safety Damon Magazu, who was playing because the starter was suspended. The pick preserved a 33-27 win.
That 70 show
5. The sky was a shade of purple as if there was some divine approval at the close of ECU’s 70-41 win over visiting North Carolina in 2014 at Dowdy-Ficklen.
The conquest was a credit to the creativity of offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, the talents of Carden at quarterback and the shiftiness of Cooper in the open field.
Kurt Benkert, who later transferred to Virginia, scored a TD on a quarterback draw that led to a conversion kick for the 70th point.
5, a. The Pirates had beaten the Heels 55-31 in Chapel Hill in 2013, which led to some talk about payback the following year. That provided ample motivation subsequently.
5, b. During the competitive struggles of the Scottie Montgomery coaching era, the Pirates managed to bounce back from a loss to North Carolina A&T in the 2018 season opener to turn back UNC, 41-19.
Back, back, back … in 2016
4. Travis Watkins hit a 3-run walkoff home run for an 8-6 win over Virginia in the NCAA baseball tournament in 2016. The Pirates descended from Cloud Nine to top William & Mary, 8-4, the following day for the Charlottesville regional championship.
The Cavaliers had won the College World Series in 2015 and were ranked No. 10 when they fell victim to a 5-run rally by ECU in the bottom of the ninth.
4, a. That man Watkins hit two homers in the first game of the ensuing Super Regional at Texas Tech for an 8-6 win. It was the Pirates’ first-ever triumph in four Super Regional series. ECU had chances to win the second game but the Red Raiders prevailed, 3-1, in 13 innings.
Move to the AAC
3. East Carolina moved from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference, then known as the Big East, for the 2014-2015 school year. The initial move was for football only, but the league eventually invited ECU for all sports.
The AAC has provided greater exposure and revenue while also elevating the competitive challenges.
Winning the CIT
2. Akeem Richmond hit the deciding 3-pointer as time expired on an assist from Miguel Paul as the Pirates topped host Weber State, 77-74, to win the CollegeInsider.com Tournament on April 2, 2013.
That completed a 23-12 season for ECU in Jeff Lebo’s third season as coach.
The dramatic shot heard ’round Pirate Nation gave ECU its lone national title against an NCAA field. The 1961 baseball championship came when the Pirates competed in the NAIA.
1. The dismissal of Ruffin McNeill after the 2015 football season never made sense, except apparently to former athletic director Jeff Compher.
Ruff was 42-34 over six seasons and his teams seemed to play their best when they lined up against ACC opponents.
The Pirates are 13-35 since Ruff’s players read about his firing on social media.
The long-term fallout led Compher to negotiate a buyout and the return to ECU of former AD Dave Hart as an advisor. Compher’s hire, Montgomery, had no head coaching experience and the program spiraled downward.
Jon Gilbert was hired from Southern Miss as ECU’s AD in December, 2018, and took over an overall program that was struggling financially and generally in terms of morale.
1, a. Mike Houston came in as football coach following the 2018 season. His resume created optimism among Pirate fans and football has shown signs of improvement this far in his regime.
1, b. Joe Dooley was brought in as basketball coach after the 2017-18 season with the same sort of expectations of revitalizing a losing program.