East Carolina reached a bowl game 11 times from 1994-2014, but is on track for its third straight empty December. The Pirates fired Ruffin McNeill after a 5-7 season in 2015 and moved on to Scottie Montgomery, who has gone 4-15 to date. ECU went 3-9 in Montgomery’s debut season and stands at 1-6 heading into Saturday’s Homecoming game against BYU.

The arrival of the Homecoming game prompted a state-of-the-program update from AD Jeff Compher to Pirate Club members. I’ve excerpted the relevant portions below:

As we look forward to welcoming back thousands of alumni for this exciting weekend, I would be remiss if we did not address the state of our football program. Frankly, we are not where any of us wanted or hoped to be. However, I can assure you, we have not quit. We will continue to fight each and every day, because that’s what Pirates do. 

In that spirit, we ask Pirate Nation to fight with us, not against us. We are stronger when we stand together and support each other. I am extremely grateful for the encouragement I have received in recent weeks, especially from Chancellor Staton as well as the Board of Trustees’ unanimous expression of support for me at their September 14th meeting.

I have heard some people call this a rebuilding year; I prefer to think of it as a renovation. The foundation of Pirate Football is already strong… built by every coach, player and fan who has come before. The clearest example of this is that even in a trying year, we still lead the conference in average attendance.

Joining the American Athletic Conference brought new opportunities, but it also raised the level of competition as highlighted by the four teams who have been ranked in the Top 25 this year alone. However, Pirates have never shied away from a challenge and we certainly aren’t going to now. I am confident Coach Montgomery will build on the sturdy foundation already in place and will continue to strive to make Pirate Nation pride.

East Carolina has already demoted defensive coordinator Kenwick Thompson this season, and now Compher felt compelled to defend Montgomery while asking fans — in what I thought was the key phrase of the entire letter — to “fight with us, not against us.”

After getting BYU at home Saturday, ECU closes with a tough finishing kick — road trips to Houston and No. 25 Memphis bookending home games with Tulane and Cincinnati.