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View from the 'ville
Friday, June 3, 2011

By Al Myatt

Ruff treatment: Weaver hands off to Hasty

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

East Carolina football coach Ruffin McNeill hopes to do some putting today as he hosts his second annual Mac Attack Golf Tournament to raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House in Greenville.

McNeill is progressing from a pair of surgeries and has returned to a full time schedule at the football office. He had weight loss surgery in January and a hip replacement in April.

"Everything is on schedule," McNeill said. "It will be five weeks out from the hip replacement surgery (today). I'm in a rehab/recovery stage. The therapy is going fantastic. Kevin Young is the therapist. That part is going great. Dr. (Chris) Hasty) did a great job. I need to mention Mike Weaver because his company is part of the surgery as well. Everything went well during surgery. The toughest thing is monitoring two major surgeries in three months. I'm monitoring both of them at the same time."

Older Pirate fans remember Mike Weaver.

"Mike was great," McNeill said. "He was in the surgery room with Dr. Hasty. He provides the hip part. Dr. Hasty had a very, very important job and Mike did, too, of getting the right part for my body. It went great. That's the same Mike Weaver who won the conference championship for us (Southern Conference, 1976). From Williamston, he ran the option for us under coach Pat Dye.

"Dr. Hasty is also the team orthopedic surgeon as well."

The surgeries were scheduled with an eye toward having the Pirates coach ready for his primary business, getting the team ready to play the upcoming 2011 season and then going through another challenging span of supervising ECU's efforts on the gridiron.

Doing the weight loss surgery initially was designed to take some stress off the troublesome hip that forced Ruff to limp painfully at the conclusion of the 2010 campaign. He had dropped almost 100 pounds before the spring game in mid-April, which preceded the hip replacement by about two weeks.

"It gets a little bit tricky some days," McNeill admitted in regard to his physical circumstances.

One encouraging thought is that although he has been through a difficult period, the procedures should pay off when his weight reaches the desired level, the rehab is completed on the new hip and he is able to improve his conditioning.

Contemplating the trickle-down effect when the head man is less than 100 percent physically is not a positive thought for the Pirate Nation. When the man at the top feels good, it can improve the outlook and function of the entire program.

Hence, the offseason repair work and the accompanying sacrifices.

"I'm taking care of myself and taking it one day at a time, still," McNeill said. " ... There's no pain in that area like there was before. Now, it's just a matter of getting that strength back in the surgical area — just rehabbing that area. There's no pain from the incision or from the area that I had it before the surgery. It's just a matter of strengthening the muscles and increasing the endurance in that area that I had surgery — in that hip."

McNeill helps McDonald House

Giving back to the community is a priority for the ECU coach.

"It's important for our football program," McNeill said. "We raise money for the Ronald McDonald House right here in town. It's a great cause. I have a personal tie with it in my life so I've made it one of our causes."

The Ronald McDonald House on Moye Boulevard provides temporary housing for families of seriously ill or injured children receiving treatment from medical facilities in the area.

McNeill had a luncheon with sponsors on Wednesday and a dinner Thursday night with many members of the teams which will be participating.

There will be morning and afternoon flights today at Brook Valley Country Club in Greenville.

McNeill has a personal link to the various causes he supports — the March of Dimes, Special Olympics and the Boys and Girls Clubs.

He had a niece, Hope, who needed significant medical attention early in her life almost two decades ago. McNeill's wife and his wife's sister, the little girl's mother, were able to stay at a Ronald McDonald House.

"I saw how giving and willing they were to help our family," McNeill said. "It made a big impact on me. We've always had a tie-in, even before here at East Carolina. As a coordinator, I called it a MacSack Attack. For every sack we used to get, you could donate money and pledge for every sack we got. Now that I've become a head coach, we just changed the name to the Mac Attack."

Ruff's role will be limited in terms of actual competition on the course today.

"I might be able to do some putting," he said. "Next year, I'll be able to play in the Pirate Club Tournament and this tournament. I'll be a part of every group (today) and maybe putt. I'll just go around and make sure everybody is having a great time in both flights.

"My whole goal is to get back where I can push Leander (Green, ECU quarterback in the late 1970s) a little bit in golf. All those guys are good — Mike Weaver, Jimbo Walker. All those guys play golf all the time. Those guys are really good golfers. I'm anxious to get back and get a chance to compete with those guys and compete in the tournaments, too."

Connors a comfort

While Ruff is looking forward to regaining his swing, there is always something to do in the football office. Some aspect of recruiting and program development is taking place year-round. McNeill is comfortable with Jeff Connors back in charge of the strength and conditioning regimen, which has become a vital dimension of success in today's college game.

"Having Jeff back takes a load off of you," McNeill said. "As a head coach you know they're are getting pushed to the limit each day. He's got a game plan for the team. He's really doing a great job. I'm sure the players are buying in to what Coach Connors wants to do in the offseason. That's truly a blessing there.

"We have some highly-competitive goals and some things we look forward to. We have the first game in Charlotte (vs. South Carolina, Sept. 3), which I know we'll have Pirate fans there, just like at the bowl game and just like before out in Charlotte. It's going to be great to see that Carolina Panthers stadium filled with purple and gold.

"I know those guys have that in their minds just like the home games and the (Conference USA) schedule that we have before us.

"The first game where all our attention goes is the first game on the schedule. We're looking forward to it and we know we're playing a great team in South Carolina. What a great venue to play in. I'm really looking forward to seeing that stadium filled with purple and gold."

E-mail Al Myatt

Al Myatt Archives

06/03/2011 01:52 AM


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