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Big week begins for Montgomery, Pirates

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East Carolina football coach Scottie Montgomery looks on from the home sideline at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Nov. 17.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Monday, November 26, 2018

There is no shortage of big-picture storylines for East Carolina athletics this week, culminating with the ECU football team’s trip to Raleigh on Saturday to face 24-point favorite and rival N.C. State.

Will the Pirates have a new athletics director named by the noon kickoff at Carter-Finley Stadium? Will Scottie Montgomery, who enters with a 9-26 career record with the Pirates, remain ECU’s coach beyond Saturday?

“It really doesn't matter what my confidence level (in my job security) is, because the biggest deal is the way that we come out and prepare this week,” Montgomery said Monday during his weekly news conference. “My confidence level never grows or falls. I am still the same guy that I was when I came and took this job, and we are going to work our butt off and our job is to do one thing and that is to make sure we put a better product on the field.

“At the same time, we have to make sure that the things off the field get corrected, and we still have a ways to go there.”

Chancellor Cecil Staton has publicly said that the goal is for the Pirates’ AD search to be completed by the end of football season, and he also has said that Montgomery and the football program will be evaluated at season’s end.

ECU announced Monday that its Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting at 1 p.m. on Wednesday to hear personnel updates and legal matters and take any related action in closed session. A university official would not comment on what specifically might be discussed, though indications point to the meeting being related to athletics.

Montgomery was asked Monday if a win over N.C. State (8-3) to give the Pirates a 4-8 record would be enough for him to keep his job.

“There is not a point where I’ve said I have done enough,” he said. “I came here to win championships and we haven’t been able to do that for a lot of reasons, and I am one of the reasons. That is the first level of it is accountability.

“But I do think as you look into the whole of it, there are some things that all of us can do better and we will do better to make sure that we have a better chance of not only winning this weekend, but in the future.”

Montgomery guaranteed immediately after a second straight 3-9 season in 2017 that his Pirate team would make a bowl game, but ECU has faltered again, and a 56-6 loss at Cincinnati last Friday gave East Carolina a 3-8 record. The Pirates finished 1-7 in American Athletic Conference play.

“This is a regular season game and we haven’t earned the right to say this is a bowl game,” Montgomery said of facing the Wolfpack. “You have to earn the right to say this is a bowl week. We don’t dangle carrots out in front of people or do anything like that.”

The Wolfpack, which holds a 16-13 all-time edge against ECU but has lost the last three meetings, is closing the regular season with consecutive rivalry matchups.

NCSU beat North Carolina, 34-28, in overtime in Chapel Hill on Saturday, and a postgame brawl led to the Atlantic Coast Conference announcing Monday that Wolfpack starting offensive linemen Tyler Jones and Justin Witt and backup safety Freddie Phillips are suspended for one half versus ECU. Coach Dave Doeren can decide which half to sit the suspended players.

Montgomery said freshman receiver Tyler Snead is slated to play, which would exceed the four-game redshirt limit for him and make him a sophomore for next season. Montgomery also confirmed that redshirt freshman third-string quarterback Kingsley Ifedi is not part of the team’s active roster.

“He is not in the mix anymore in the quarterback room,” Montgomery said. “I don’t know the answer to (if he is transferring).”

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

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