Bless Wellcome Middle School's heart. They are the best kept secret in the county. Great things are happening there and...

Houston: Pirates need new identity


By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, December 4, 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 team’s players. Those players are in the midst of an always-difficult coaching transition after third-year coach Scottie Montgomery was fired last Thursday and Houston, the former national championship coach of FCS member James Madison, was hired Monday.

Houston has beaten them — his JMU team defeated Montgomery’s Pirates to open the 2017 season — but now he has joined them, and the coach was concise in describing his plan to change the team that went 9-27 the last three season and produce winning seasons like the ones he enjoyed with the Dukes.

He said he wants to make ECU more like it was when he was growing up and playing football in the state, and he believes that can happen under his guidance.

“I’m a firm believer that if you want a certain identity on game day, that had better be your identity year-round,” Houston said, adding that the daily approach of the team will produce its long-term results. “I can promise you we are going to be a hard-nosed, physical, fundamentally sound, disciplined football team. We’re going to play with intensity, passion and fire.”

Houston will run a multiple offense similar to a majority of teams nationwide, and will keep in place the same 4-2-5 defensive scheme Montgomery employed and which also is commonplace in modern college football.

The difference in Houston’s eyes rests in the proper execution of those schemes.

“What I just described to you is something very similar among a lot of programs all around the country and a lot of programs in the (American Athletic Conference),” Houston said of his offensive and defensive approaches. “But I’m a firm believer that it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. Our mentality and our mindset will be more important than the schemes we use.”

The coach also contended that while every team in the country preaches a family atmosphere within the team, he intends to make it a reality.

“I’m going to be heavily involved in the lives of our student-athletes,” he said. “I’m going to be involved in their personal life, who they’re around, what they’re doing, where they are, how they conduct themselves.”

Like any successful coach, Houston hopes to keep cashing in on the recruiting ties he formed while at JMU, but he also is determined to keep on doing something his predecessor did well in recruiting ECU’s home base in Pitt and surrounding counties.

“We are going to recruit the state of North Carolina very aggressively,” said Houston, a Franklin native whose first head coaching job was at Lenoir-Rhyne. “We are not going to back down from anyone in a recruiting battle. We are also going to recruit the surrounding area, the Tidewater and Richmond and Norfolk area of Virginia. We’re going to recruit the state of South Carolina, we’re going to recruit Atlanta, but our home base is going to be in-state football players.”

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com, 252-329-9595 and follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.


Humans of Greenville


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


February 17, 2019

Facing cold temperatures and an early deficit at Clark-LeClair Stadium, there were times Sunday when things could have gotten away from East Carolina’s baseball team.

The Pirates battled, however, and rallied during the middle and late innings to beat Radford 4-3 and complete an opening…


February 17, 2019

East Carolina softball’s four-game undefeated run through the Pirate Clash ended Sunday with the Pirates off to their best start to a season since beginning 8-0 in 2006.

After two walk-off wins Friday, Erin Poepping’s 10-strikeout performance from the circle Saturday night guided a…


February 17, 2019

The East Carolina basketball team in the puzzle-piece printed uniforms on Sunday afternoon showed again it is still missing some pieces.

The Pirates hit just one field goal in the opening eight minutes against Tulsa and trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half before storming back and…


February 17, 2019

East Carolina basketball coaches have been hot on the recruiting trail, including for Boston 7-footer Charles Coleman who also is a target by Wake Forest, Duke and DePaul, as the Pirates have faced difficulties on the court for another season.

A 79-69 loss to Memphis on Wednesday night, a game in…


February 16, 2019

East Carolina was busy on indoor and outdoor tennis courts this weekend, highlighted by the ECU women winning both of their matches in Greenville for a four-match win streak.

The Pirates (4-2) took a 5-2 victory over James Madison at the River Birch Tennis Center, then swept Campbell at the ECU…


February 16, 2019

After serving as East Carolina baseball’s first starting pitcher of the season and hitting for himself as the designated hitter, Alec Burleson was thinking he would remain at DH or maybe play first base for Game 2 of Friday’s doubleheader versus Radford.

Instead, some conversations led…


February 15, 2019

A total of 21 runs by East Carolina powered the Pirates to a college baseball opening day sweep of Radford at Clark-LeClair Stadium on Friday.

Spencer Brickhouse’s go-ahead, two-run home run keyed a 6-2 win, then ECU used a 16-hit barrage for a 15-9 victory in Game 2 of the doubleheader…


February 15, 2019


Jake Washer, junior: Washer is back as East Carolina’s starting catcher after receiving Major League Baseball draft interest following his breakout sophomore season. In addition to showing power with six home runs and 40 RBIs a year ago, Washer posted a smooth .287 batting average.…


February 15, 2019

Equipped with All-American Bryant Packard ready to serve again as East Carolina’s leadoff man in the batting order and a stable of proven pitchers who battled during the preseason for lead rotation spots, ECU is ready to face an opponent and begin a new season.

Radford’s visit to Clark-…


February 15, 2019



Alec Burleson, sophomore: Burleson will be a frequent player at designated hitter and first base in the lineup, but his main focus in the season opener versus Radford will be on the pitcher’s mound. The left-hander, who was the American Athletic Conference rookie…

261 stories in ECU. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 27
        Next Page»   Last Page»