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WOODWARD: Critical decisions are looming

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The Daily Reflector

Monday, November 5, 2018

The most important two-day stretch of the fall semester for East Carolina athletics came crashing over Greenville on Friday and Saturday.

The days represented separate, yet congruent and utterly important missions bound to mesh more and more as November progresses and December nears.

Chancellor Cecil Staton gave the ECU athletics director situation the most clarity it has had in months on Friday afternoon when he declared that the school’s AD search committee hopes to have a permanent director identified by the end of football season.

One afternoon later, there was a season-low announced attendance of 29,127 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium — that is tickets distributed, not a reflection of the scattered people actually in the stands for a noticeably lousy atmosphere — and the Pirates lost 59-41 to Memphis. The career record for third-year coach Scottie Montgomery fell to 8-24.

ECU is 0-5 in the American Athletic Conference this season, giving Montgomery a 3-18 mark in 21 league games.

Fans are upset with the product that this year is improved from a season ago, yet a familiar feeling of a few marquee wins is being rightfully overshadowed by East Carolina not winning against the middle level of the AAC. Some fans are open and emotional in evaluating Montgomery. Some are evaluating the situation simply by not showing up to games.

Staton and special athletics adviser Dave Hart are evaluating Montgomery each Saturday, albeit in a more behind-the-scenes manner.

Most importantly, potential AD candidates are evaluating Montgomery. No worthy athletics director is accepting the Pirates’ vacant post without some thoughts of their own or plan about how to proceed with Pirate football.

Even Montgomery offered one of his most insightful answers of the season during Saturday’s postgame news conference when he was asked about ECU’s 0-5 conference record and he indicated the strength of the AAC does not include the Pirates right now, and that is frustrating for him.

“We want to beat these teams and we are getting closer,” he said. “Last year, we weren’t as close as we are right now.”

ECU players walked in to the media room and many were asked if they are feeling pressure to win for Montgomery, knowing that how the team fares during the final four games of the season is going to factor into thoughts by current and/​or future Pirate administrators on when or if a coaching change is needed.

“You might have extra motivation, but I wouldn’t call it pressure, because at the end of the day we don’t like losing,” senior offensive captain Garrett McGhin said. “You think we can just play the game to save someone else’s job? No, this is attached to my name and when I leave East Carolina they are going to see Garrett McGhin and however many wins I have. … This is personal.”

Who will be East Carolina’s athletics director one week from now? One month from now? Who will be ECU’s football coach one week from now? One month from now?

Separate questions for the Pirates have never been so tied together.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


November 15, 2018

Two important elements to Saturday night’s East Carolina football game are that the struggling Pirates (2-7) are favored against Connecticut (1-9), and that it is senior day at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

ECU has been the underdog in all but two games this season. It was nearly a two-touchdown…


November 14, 2018

With East Carolina football still seeking its first American Athletic Conference win of the season and many fans in Pirate Nation upset with the results by third-year coach Scottie Montgomery and the Pirates, ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton released a statement late Wednesday afternoon saying that an…


November 14, 2018

The score was tied only briefly Wednesday night in Minges Coliseum for women’s basketball action.

East Carolina and Grand Canyon were deadlocked, 24-24, for exactly 12 seconds before ECU produced a game-changing rally late in the second quarter and the Pirates stayed in front the rest of the…


November 14, 2018


The first day of the recruiting early signing period saw Joe Dooley and East Carolina basketball sign three guards on Wednesday in Logan Curtis, Tyrie Jackson and Tremont Robinson.

Jackson is a transfer from Northwest Florida State College and Robinson is currently attending Garden…


November 14, 2018

Four football teams are still in contention in the American Athletic Conference West Division, while the East champion will be decided this weekend.

SMU, Houston and Tulane are in a three-way tie in the West at 4-2. Memphis is one game back at 3-3. Houston and Tulane meet Thursday night, while SMU…

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November 14, 2018

With his ability to duck past defenders, lean into the post and find both sides of the rim for baskets, freshman Jayden Gardner is a breath of fresh air for the East Carolina basketball team.

After glimpses of promise but poor shooting in the team’s first two games this season, Gardner…


November 13, 2018

Usual backup Darius Pinnix is first on the East Carolina depth chart at running back this week, and there is optimism that he could provide the jolt desperately needed for the Pirate run game Saturday versus lowly Connecticut.

Such a conventional breakthrough also is not guaranteed, which is why…


November 12, 2018

East Carolina basketball player Jayden Gardner was named the American Athletic Conference men’s basketball freshman of the week on Monday.

In three games last week, Gardner averaged 14.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 26 minutes and connected on 45.5 percent of his field goal attempts (10-of-22)…

November 12, 2018

It remains to be seen whether or not the premier team in the American Athletic Conference will again be undefeated and knocking on the door of the College Football Playoff at season’s end, but Central Florida already is very much in the public eye of college football.

Everything will be on…

Navy UCF Football

November 12, 2018

As East Carolina’s football team has three games remaining in its season and is out of bowl consideration with a 2-7 record that will not allow for reaching the required six-win mark, coach Scottie Montgomery remains focused on the day-to-day aspects of managing his team.

Without an athletics…

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