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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, July 27, 2010

By Brian Bailey

McNeill at ease as coach or diplomat

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

East Carolina first-year football coach Ruffin McNeill had a story to tell at his first Conference USA media day.

Unfortunately, many television station budgets don’t allow for a trip to Memphis in July. Several colleagues were there, and the people that I talked to in the media that covered the event in Memphis came away impressed.

McNeill is at ease with people. That’s been his strength since day one after he took over for Skip Holtz as the Pirates' head coach.

McNeill didn’t call Holtz by name, but he credited the former coach and his program when speaking to the media in Memphis.

“The one thing they have done is that they have won,” said McNeill. “They have been successful.”

McNeill understands that he’s lost a boatload of key players from those back-to-back Liberty Bowl squads.

“We lost 28 football players from that team,” he said. “And we lost a junior (Linval Joseph) who is now with the Giants. That’s 28 pretty good football players that aren’t on this team now. But I’m excited about the winning mentality that was brought in. They have won.”

McNeill went deeper with his thoughts.

“As a coach you try to instill that mentality (winning) into your football team," he said. "You want them to expect to win. This team expects to win by past success.”

Several young players will battle for starting spots when practice opens in a couple of weeks. McNeill likes the youngsters' attitudes, which should pay dividends down the road.

“We’ll have to replace those 28 players with some young football players," he noted. "Those young players tend to see the glass as half full. I’m looking forward to seeing these guys take advantage of the opportunity in about a week or so, to see how they’ve improved since the spring.”

Among the hot topics of conversations at media day was the new Pirate offense. In fact, Pirate receiver Dwayne Harris had perhaps the quote of the weekend.

"Coach Ruffin (McNeill), he wants to pass first, pass second, pass third and maybe run fourth,” joked Harris.

The Texas Tech offense was on the minds of several reporters.

“I like the skill set we have,” said McNeill. “I like the skill guys we have. There are always going to be some adjustments and we’ll have some of those as well.”

McNeill is big on attitude, and he says he likes the way his squad has welcomed the new offense.

“I like the way our guys and our players have grasped our scheme and then gone out and worked on it on their own," he said.

It certainly won’t be long now.

McNeill even cracked a smile.

“It’s a great challenge, a great task,” he said. “But it’ll be fun. I’m looking forward to it."

I think we all are!


E-mail Brian Bailey.

Brian Bailey Archives

08/06/2010 01:56 AM


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