BYH, Trump. Did you think it would be that easy? That you could just be installed by Putin and his oligarchs, live a...

Coaching carousel hits Pirates, AD search

James Madison NC State Football

James Madison head coach Mike Houston talks on his radio during the first half an NCAA college football game against North Carolina State in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)


The Daily Reflector

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Just a few hours after East Carolina officially parted ways with head football coach Scottie Montgomery, there were already coaching candidates being linked to the Pirates’ new vacancy on social media and in other media reports.

James Madison coach Mike Houston was at the forefront, including a report Thursday afternoon by the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg, Va., that the Charlotte 49ers’ public pursuit of Houston impacted the timing of ECU’s dismissal of Montgomery. ECU (3-8) finishes its season Saturday at N.C. State, where the Pirates will be led by defensive coordinator David Blackwell.

Houston told reporters on Wednesday that Charlotte had offered him its head coaching position and he was interested, but he had not yet accepted the offer.

On Friday, Charlotte released a statement that athletics director Mike Hill had withdrew the offer because, “Houston informed us that he had interest in exploring other head coaching opportunities, while remaining under consideration here.”

Houston, 47, is a North Carolina native of Franklin.

“It’s just the reality of college football right now with the (recruiting) national signing day moved up to December, and institutions have obviously sped up their process to going after different candidates for different reasons,” Houston told reporters Wednesday. “I was contacted on Sunday by the Charlotte 49ers and athletic director Mike Hill and we had a good conversation and I listened to him and talked to him again on Tuesday. I told him I was interested in the job.

“That doesn’t have anything to do with JMU. I have been blessed to be at James Madison University and have the opportunity to be the head coach here. I am still the head coach here.”

JMU is set to play in the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs on Saturday. The team’s coaching staff includes former ECU veteran staffers Donnie Kirkpatrick and Steve Shankweiler.

The Pirates’ 2017 season began with a 34-14 loss to Houston and the Dukes in Greenville.

East Carolina’s football coaching search is still tied to its vacant athletics director position and an AD search led by Dave Hart that for weeks has centered around Southern Miss AD Jon Gilbert. UNC Wilmington’s Jimmy Bass was in talks with Hart this week, but Bass tweeted Friday night that he is no longer a candidate.

“The search for ECU’s new athletics director remains ongoing in earnest, and that individual will finalize the hire for Montgomery’s replacement,” the university’s release said Thursday.

Sources and other media reports also have suggested that Hart hiring Gilbert as the Pirates’ next AD could lead to Butch Jones quickly being a lead candidate as ECU’s next football coach. Jones was head coach at Tennessee when Gilbert and Hart were also at UT. Jones, also a former winning coach at Cincinnati, is currently an offensive analyst for Alabama.

Dwayne Ledford, who played defensive line at ECU from 1995-97 and is currently the associate head coach and run game coordinator/offensive line coach for N.C. State, could emerge as a natural candidate for the Pirates. Shane Beamer, Oklahoma’s assistant head coach for offense and tight ends coach, was involved in the Pirates’ last coaching search.

The coaching carousel also affects Blackwell and the Pirate assistants who will coach the team Saturday amid their uncertain futures.

“I don’t want to get into many details, but I have had several phone calls already and that is the nature of the business,” Blackwell said Thursday afternoon. “This isn’t the time for that right now. I will worry about that Sunday or Monday. And even as we move toward signing day, I’ll do the best job I can as long as they want me to be here.”

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.


December 11, 2018

Two East Carolina football recruits are experiencing the unique blend of high school football glory and college football recruiting to the fullest extent this week, including the multi-talented Traveon Freshwater from Elizabeth City.

Freshwater and his teammates at Northeastern High will play in…


December 09, 2018

Jon Gilbert’s experience in athletics ranges from being an administrator at big-time Southeastern Conference schools Alabama and Tennessee to holding his first athletics director position last year at Southern Miss, a school that in many ways is similar to East Carolina and used to be a rival…


December 07, 2018

Pitt County East Carolina football recruits Jeremy Lewis of South Central and CJ Johnson of D.H. Conley doubled down on their commitments following the arrival of new head coach Mike Houston this week.

Attempts to reach Farmville Central’s Keziah Everett for comment were unsuccessful.



December 07, 2018

First-year East Carolina head football coach Mike Houston announced the addition of 10 members to his initial Pirates’ staff on Friday.

All have assumed their duties immediately.

Among the additions are eight coaches who were on Houston's staff at James Madison, five on the offensive side of…


December 07, 2018

The difference in total yards — 614 to 362 in favor of James Madison — tells a lot of the story of JMU’s 34-14 win over East Carolina at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium to begin the 2017 season for both teams.

Coach Mike Houston, who posted a 37-6 record at JMU in three seasons before…


December 06, 2018

East Carolina University has designated $20 million in university money to settle a deficit in its athletics budget and to make significant capital improvements to athletics facilities, officials said Wednesday.

The funds are available immediately, with one $10 million transfer intended to nullify…


December 06, 2018

Coach Mike Houston didn’t leave James Madison for East Carolina because of Holton Ahlers, but he is aware of the Pirates’ talented quarterback.

Ahlers, a left-hander standing 6-foot-3 and 236 pounds, was one of the top freshman QBs in the country this year even during a third straight 3-…


December 05, 2018

Donnie Kirkpatrick is returning to East Carolina’s football program to be the first offensive coordinator for Mike Houston as head coach of the Pirates.

ECU has not made Kirkpatrick’s appointment official, but sources have confirmed that Kirkpatrick is expected to be named offensive…


December 05, 2018

Dave Hart didn’t even know how to finish his sentence.

He has been in athletics administration since the early 1980s and seen just about everything, except for what happened with him and East Carolina finalizing an athletics director search and football coaching search at the same time.…


December 04, 2018

In Mike Houston’s estimation, the key to rebuilding the football team at East Carolina is redefining the team’s identity.

The new face of ECU football laid out his blueprint for the Pirates in a news conference on Tuesday, the same plans he said he had already detailed to the…

313 stories in ECU. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 32
        Next Page»   Last Page»