East Carolina head coach Ruffin McNeill has been relieved of duties, the program announced Friday.
“After delicate evaluation, the decision has been made to move our program in a different direction with new leadership,” 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.”
McNeill went 42-34 in six seasons at East Carolina, peaking at a stretch that saw him go 26-13 with three straight bowl appearances from 2012-14. But the Pirates slipped to 5-7 this fall and stand at 8-8 in two seasons of American Athletic Conference play, which was enough for Compher to justify a change.
Sources the move comes as a complete surprise to the staff.
Ruffin McNeill was only two years removed from ECU’s first 10-win season since 1991. This doesn’t make a ton of sense.
— David Ubben (@davidubben) December 4, 2015
Coach Ruff out at ECU? That’s unbelievable. He’s one of the truly great people in CFB. That’s hard to comprehend. — Mark Packer (@MarkPacker) December 4, 2015
Shocked about McNeill. ECU lost starting QB before year, nearly won at UF, beat Va. Tech. Hope ECU has a verbal agreement w/Nick Saban
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) December 4, 2015
I really have never seen a press release like the one ECU put out. Literally listed the team's ECU finished behind last year
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) December 4, 2015
On a larger note, the 2015-16 hiring cycle was expected to be a tough one for black coaches, and this out-of-the-blue firing is especially hurtful on an already underrepresented group of coaches.
With the move, East Carolina becomes the 21st FBS program to change coaches this off-season. There are eight openings at this time.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.