I just learned that NCDOT will be putting in bike lanes on the new 10th St overpass from Evans St. all the way to the...

WOODWARD: Look back brings ECU fall into focus

1 of 2

Former East Carolina standout running back Chris Johnson waves to the crowd at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium during halftime against Houston. Oct. 13, 2018.


The Daily Reflector

Monday, October 15, 2018

It was easy to think back to East Carolina football’s successful run in Conference USA during Saturday night’s game against Houston at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

The first reminder was Houston being the visiting team. The Cougars occupied the same visiting sideline Dec. 5, 2009, for a historical moment at Dowdy-Ficklen when the Pirates hosted the C-USA championship game and beat UH, 38-32, for their second straight conference title.

Another reminder came when former Pirate star running back Chris Johnson was honored for being inducted into the ECU Hall of Fame.

Johnson played from 2004-07 and was a key player in the Pirates shedding the woeful John Thompson era (3-20 record in 2003-04) for a resurgence under coach Skip Holtz, who went to a bowl game in four out of five seasons from 2005-09 and won two Conference USA titles.

ECU is no longer a winner in its league. Furthermore, former C-USA teams have passed by the Pirates and moved to the forefront in the American Athletic Conference.

In 2009, East Carolina beat Memphis, UCF and Houston in the same season en route to winning C-USA. Those three teams are enjoying a combined 15-4 record this year, while the Pirates are seemingly stuck in their own way at the halfway point of the season at 2-4 overall and 0-3 in the AAC.

Houston’s 42-20 win on Saturday gave ECU an 11-24 all-time record in American games. It joined the league prior to the 2014 season.

Coach Scottie Montgomery is in his third season leading the Pirates and he is facing heat again after consecutive sluggish weeks in league play. He has a 3-16 career American record.

The Pirates’ previous coach, Ruffin McNeill, was 8-8.

Montgomery’s 3-16 mark is simply unacceptable for a proud ECU program, and it is getting noticed. The Pirates will likely not be favored in a game again until they host Connecticut, the team they are tied with for last place in the AAC East division, on Nov. 17.

ECU fans made a statement Saturday night with the announced attendance of 29,851 serving as the first Pirate home game since the finale of the 2005 season with a crowd of less than 30,000.

Attendance dropping as East Carolina is dropping AAC games is unfortunately a theme.

With Houston as the visitors and Johnson roaming the sideline, fans in the stands Saturday at least got to think back to ECU’s winning ways.

Johnson was a freshman in 2004 — Thompson’s final season — when the Pirates finished with a 2-9 record. As a senior, the speedy Johnson helped ECU finish the 2007 season with a thrilling Hawaii Bowl win over Boise State and an 8-5 record.

East Carolina then won consecutive C-USA crowns. Holtz and the Pirates were the kings of that league for a few years.

Now they are nowhere close to contending for a conference championship.

ECU’s best record in the American was its first year in 2014, with a 5-3 AAC mark. McNeill was fired after the next year, when ECU went 3-5 in the American and former athletics director Jeff Compher stressed that the Pirates needed to rise in the AAC.

Things have gotten worse since then, and Compher isn’t around to see the downward spiral continue.

The Pirates don’t have an AD and they are staring at a big challenge to increase their standing in their league.

Is it coaching? Is it quarterback play? Funding? Facilities? Recruiting?

There are many opinions on the reasons behind the downfall of East Carolina football, but it is clear that the winning days of Conference USA have been replaced by routine losses in the American Athletic Conference.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.


Humans of Greenville


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


November 17, 2018

East Carolina and Connecticut are both starving for a football win, and one of the clubs is bound to achieve that feeling tonight inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Both teams are 0-6 in American Athletic Conference play. The Pirates (2-7 overall) have three games remaining and they are favored over the…


November 17, 2018

Q: You are an emotional guy. Who else on the team gets really hyped and loud before games?

A: I definitely have to say D’Ante Smith and probably Matt Morgan on the offensive line. Matt is like my hype man. But as a whole (team), there really are guys across the board who get into it and get…


November 16, 2018

East Carolina basketball was frigid from the field on Friday night at Georgia Tech, suffering a 79.54 setback to the Yellow Jackets after the Pirates shot a paltry 35.6 percent from the floor.

ECU (2-2) saw its record evened after a pathetic 2-for-17 showing from three-point range to go with a 10-…


November 16, 2018

Southern Miss athletics director Jon Gilbert is potentially emerging as a lead candidate in East Carolina’s search for a new AD, although Southern Miss athletics spokesman Jack Duggan said Friday afternoon that he was not aware of Gilbert leaving for another job.

Multiple sources have…


November 16, 2018

East Carolina’s basketball team scrimmaged Atlantic Coast Conference opponents Wake Forest and N.C. State during the preseason.

Tonight’s game at ACC member Georgia Tech will count toward the Pirates’ win-loss record.

ECU (2-1), which has one win ever against an ACC team when it…


November 15, 2018

Coaches Scottie Montgomery and Randy Edsall sound similar at this point in the college football season.

Montgomery and the Pirates will be looking to stop a five-game losing streak when 1-9 Connecticut visits Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday. ECU is 2-7 this year, giving…

SMU UConn Football

November 15, 2018

Two important elements to Saturday night’s East Carolina football game are that the struggling Pirates (2-7) are favored against Connecticut (1-9), and that it is senior day at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

ECU has been the underdog in all but two games this season. It was nearly a two-touchdown…


November 14, 2018

With East Carolina football still seeking its first American Athletic Conference win of the season and many fans in Pirate Nation upset with the results by third-year coach Scottie Montgomery and the Pirates, ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton released a statement late Wednesday afternoon saying that an…


November 14, 2018

The score was tied only briefly Wednesday night in Minges Coliseum for women’s basketball action.

East Carolina and Grand Canyon were deadlocked, 24-24, for exactly 12 seconds before ECU produced a game-changing rally late in the second quarter and the Pirates stayed in front the rest of the…


November 14, 2018


The first day of the recruiting early signing period saw Joe Dooley and East Carolina basketball sign three guards on Wednesday in Logan Curtis, Tyrie Jackson and Tremont Robinson.

Jackson is a transfer from Northwest Florida State College and Robinson is currently attending Garden…

281 stories in ECU. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 29
        Next Page»   Last Page»