Houston: Everything has to change
By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
When East Carolina linebacker Aaron Ramseur showed up late for the first team meeting of spring practice, he and the rest of the Pirate football team got an early idea of how much things were about to change under new head coach Mike Houston.
When he arrived late for the 7 a.m. meeting, Ramseur, one of the most accomplished and naturally talented players from the Scottie Montgomery coaching era, found himself on an unexpected, seemingly unending run outside, away from the rest of the team.
“I get down there at 6:55, nobody’s seen Aaron, nobody knows where he is,” Houston said to the crowd at Tuesday’s Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce power luncheon in the Hilton Greenville, where he was the guest speaker. “About 6:57, I turned to our strength coach, coach (John) Williams and say, ‘When Aaron gets here, if he gets here, just tell him to go ahead and get dressed, get in his gym clothes. You take him outside and you can run him until we’re done with our meeting. After that, we’ll talk to him about whether he wants to continue to play football here.”
Ever since his hour of running during the team meeting, Houston said his linebacker has been on time every time.
It’s part of Houston’s total rebuild on Pirate football. The coach was hired to replace Montgomery and fix four straight losings seasons and an even longer bowl drought.
He called it “ground zero,” saying everything from the way the team dressed for meetings and practices to the poor quality of the equipment and training facilities needed to change now and forever. That will undoubtedly take a while, but the new coach said he won’t compromise anything on his way to repacking the recently empty Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in which his James Madison team thumped the Pirates to open the 2017 season.
“When I took the job, we had a problem of getting where needed to go on time,” he said. “We had a problem with how to conduct ourselves in a team meeting setting. They didn’t understand the parameters for how we wanted to function, so we had to teach them. Your teams are going to do what they’re coached to do or they’re going to do the things they’re allowed to do.”
Numerous times during his 30-minute talk, Houston referenced the 58-3 shellacking laid on ECU to close the 2018 season by N.C. State and the three-year tenure of Montgomery, who recorded three straight 3-9 seasons.
Drawing a parallel between that loss to the Wolfpack and the chance to play the same team in Raleigh to open this season, the coach stressed that the Pirates can never return to that point again. He did not promise a win but vowed for the Pirates to be different and better right away this season.
“We have to change. Everything has to change,” Houston said.
Contact Nathan Summers at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9595 and follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.