Loading...
Bless the heart of the stormwater advisory group that suggested to raise the stormwater fees to record levels. I wonder...

Houston introduced as new ECU coach

120518ECUFootballHouston-1.jpg
1 of 3

New East Carolina football coach Mike Houston.

120518ECUFootballHouston-2.jpg
120518ECUFootballHouston-3.jpg
Loading…

By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

A public pursuit of sorts played out for former James Madison football coach Mike Houston last week, and it was East Carolina that introduced Houston as the Pirates’ 22nd head football coach at the Murphy Center on Tuesday.

The Charlotte 49ers offered their head coaching position to Houston, a native of Franklin in the western part of North Carolina, early last week and Houston planned to keep his options open leading up to his JMU team’s Football Championship Subdivision playoff game at Colgate on Saturday. Charlotte rescinded its offer after ECU dismissed coach Scottie Montgomery on Thursday and joined the mix in courting Houston.

A five-year contract for Houston with the Pirates was sealed Sunday when ECU representatives Dave Hart, Jon Gilbert  — who had not yet been named ECU’s new athletics director — and J.J. McLamb met with the coach.

It was a quick football coach search that, for East Carolina, finished with it getting its top choice.

The sequence of events for ECU athletics included Gilbert being introduced publicly as the new AD on Monday, then it was Houston’s turn Tuesday to try and reinvigorate and win over Pirate Nation.

“This past week has been a whirlwind,” said Houston, who led JMU to the 2016 FCS national championship. “The fact that we were one of the top (FCS) programs in the country is the reason why I had these opportunities. … As soon as I was contacted by East Carolina University, there was no doubt of what my desire was and that was to be the head football coach here.

“This is a job that I identified in my past as something I would want to pursue and have this opportunity. … I’m glad it played out the way it did, to this end, because this is where I want to be.”

Houston’s contract calls for him to make $1.3 million guaranteed in his first season, which is more than Montgomery’s guaranteed $1.1 million for the 2018 season. Montgomery finished with a 9-26 record in three seasons.

Hart, ECU’s special athletics adviser, was the first Pirate representative to contact Houston on Thursday.

Houston held his first team meeting with players on Monday night. ECU hasn’t had a winning season since an 8-5 record in 2014 under coach Ruffin McNeill, who was fired by then-AD Jeff Compher the next year after a 5-7 season.

“I told them that I know Scottie and I know Ruffin — Ruffin and I are good friends — so they are never going to hear me talk negatively about a former coach because those two guys gave East Carolina University everything that they had,” Houston said. “Those players that are on my team now are here because of former coaches. Of course those players are going to feel an emotional attachment to them, and I look forward to building on what my predecessors have done and I look forward to taking the program where it is now to back to where it once was.”

The thought of bringing winning ways back to the Pirates immediately set in with players.

“Everywhere he has been he has won, and he’s only had one losing season in his whole time as a head coach,” Greenville native and starting quarterback Holton Ahlers said. “Players can look that up, even when he was just a candidate. … When he brought up ECU football and the 1990s, that made me excited and honestly gave me chills during our team meeting.”

Houston has an 80-25 career record. He coached at Lenoir-Rhyne, where Gilbert went to school and played football, and then The Citadel before posting a 37-6 record at JMU.

“He hasn’t skipped a step, and that was one of the things that really impressed me about coach Houston,” Gilbert said. “He has been a high school coach, a Division II coach, an FCS coach and now he is moving on to the East Carolina Pirates. … We play in a venue with a scoreboard, so it’s not like other (work) environments where if they have a bad day, most people don’t know about it. Wins and losses are important.”

Houston’s connection to the Pirates includes the start of the 2017 season when JMU beat ECU, 34-14, in Greenville.

His staff at JMU also included former veteran ECU offensive assistants Donnie Kirkpatrick and Steve Shankweiler, who immediately are candidates to follow Houston and return to the Pirate staff.

Filling out his coaching staff and recruiting ahead of the mid-December early signing period are priorities already for Houston, but he also said he wants to reach out to fans and mend any issues between them and Pirate football.

“I am excited about our alumni and our fan base, and I want to establish a strong bond between those groups and our football program,” he said. “We are eastern North Carolina’s football program. In time, we will be North Carolina’s football program.”

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

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

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

ECU

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…

120418ECUADGilbert-5.jpg

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.

Houston,…

092918DHCfootball-4.jpg

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…

120518ECUFootballHouston-7.jpg

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…

090317ECUfootball-10.jpg

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…

120518ECUFootballHouston-6.jpg

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-…

111818ECUfootball-20.jpg

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…

102313ecukirkpatrick1.jpg

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.…

120418ECUADGilbert-2.jpg

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…

120518ECUFootballHouston-3.jpg

December 04, 2018

A public pursuit of sorts played out for former James Madison football coach Mike Houston last week, and it was East Carolina that introduced Houston as the Pirates’ 22nd head football coach at the Murphy Center on Tuesday.

The Charlotte 49ers offered their head coaching position to Houston,…

120518ECUFootballHouston-1.jpg
312 stories in ECU. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 32
        Next Page»   Last Page»