Friday, January 22, 2010

ECU picks alum to lead football program

East Carolina athletics director Terry Holland said he didn't want to go out and get a "retread" to lead the Pirate football program. The AD stuck by his guns.

The week-long search for a replacement for Skip Holtz has ended with Holland selected Texas Tech defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill -- an ECU alum -- to lead the Pirates, according to various reports.

“You’re always worried this late because you run into student-athlete recruitment and assistant coaches get taken, so the bowl becomes more shallow. But I had confidence we’d find the right person because I knew what Terry was doing and who he was evaluating,” ECU chancellor Dr. Steve Ballard said after the ECU Board of Trustees made the new hire official shortly after a 5 p.m. emergency meeting inside the Spilman Building on campus.

“I was a little concerned about the timing, but when I saw the people we were evaluating, I thought we’d be fine,” Ballard said. ...

“His human skills and his interpersonal skills are A-plus, and I think you’ll see that the minute you talk to him,” Ballard said of McNeill. “I had a great hour-and-a-half with him today. I did my own referencing on these people, and everybody who knows Ruffin says the same thing about him.”

Holland, who made the second football coach hire of his six-year tenure at the school, joined the trustees meeting via teleconference. Holland fired John Thompson toward the end of the 2004 season before hiring Holtz in December of that year.

“Coach McNeill’s interview revealed his strong commitment to doing things the right way and his love of coaching young men to grow in every part of their lives,” Holland said. “His excitement for what ECU football can become in the future was contagious and his deep and abiding appreciation for what East Carolina University has meant to him and his family was truly moving.” ...

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