East Carolina has fired head coach Ruffin McNeill.
The school announced the decision Friday. After finishing the season 5-7 without the possibility of heading to the postseason, the timing of the announcement is a bit curious. Had ECU parted ways with McNeill immediately after the season, it may already have a new coach or at least be in the middle of a coaching search. The head start is especially important given the glut of coaching changes so far.
"After deliberate evaluation, the decision has been made to move our football program in a different direction with new leadership." ECU athletic director Jeff Compher said in a statement. "We are appreciative of the hard work, dedication and contributions Coach McNeill and his staff have made to both East Carolina University and our community."
ECU moved to the AAC from Conference USA before the 2014 season. McNeill, an ECU alum, became the school's head coach after he left Texas Tech, where he was the defensive coordinator under Mike Leach. In five years at ECU McNeil had a 42-34 record. In 2013, McNeill led East Carolina to its first 10-win season since 1991.
"Our expectations are to compete for championships," Compher added. "Our goal will be to move expediently in the search process, and based on the outstanding support of our Pirate fan base and enhanced visibility in the American Athletic Conference, I am confident our candidate pool will be deep."
A couple graphs below Compher's quote in the relase was the notation that ECU under McNeill in Conference USA was "falling short of a championship game appearance each season."
Many ECU fans will immediately hope Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley is a candidate for the job. Riley, 32, was previously East Carolina's offensive coordinator and had been with the school for four seasons. But Riley is being considered for other head coaching jobs and was brought to ECU by McNeill from Texas Tech. He's also only been at Oklahoma for a season and will have quarterback Baker Mayfield and running back Samaje Perine back for another year.
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