Monday morning started off with Oklahoma officially announcing the dismissal of defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, news that started to break Sunday evening. Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley has promoted assistant head coach and defensive tackles coach Ruffin McNeill to the role of defensive coordinator for the remainder of the 2018 season. Defensive specialist Bob Diaco will take on the role of outside linebackers coach.
“I have great respect for Mike,” Riley said in a released statement. “He’s a quality football coach, great man and a close friend. It became time for a change in our program and that happens sometimes in football, but we cannot lose sight of the accomplishments Mike had at Oklahoma. He was responsible for a lot of success and deserves the gratitude of everyone associated with Sooner football, not only for his role in the winning, but for coaching with integrity.”
McNeill has previous defensive coordinator experience with UNLV, Fresno State, Texas Tech. Diaco is also a former defensive coordinator at Cincinnati and Notre Dame under Brian Kelly as well as Nebraska.
“Ruffin has an impressive résumé,” Riley said. “That’s why I wanted him on our staff in the first place. I have confidence in his knowledge and leadership. Bob has a lot of experience in very good programs and also has a list of accomplishments that will help him step in and make an immediate impact. We are fortunate to have these men in our program. They’ll be ready to get to work in new roles right away.”
Stoops was fired after this weekend’s loss to Texas, a 48-45 setback in the Red River Rivalry that saw Oklahoma’s defense once again continue to struggle to get a hold of the game. Although Oklahoma has an offense that is more than capable of leading the Sooners to a Big 12 championship and a possible spot in the College Football Playoff, Oklahoma’s biggest shortcomings in recent years seem to come back to defensive issues, including last season’s regular-season loss to Iowa State and the Rose Bowl playoff loss to Georgia.
Stoops, of course, was one of many assistant coaches who remained in the Oklahoma coaching staff during a head coaching transition last year when Mike’s brother Bob Stoops suddenly retired and handed the program over to Riley. Once Bob Stoops retired, it was fair to wonder just how long Riley would stand by the defensive coordinator that has commonly been a target for criticism when things go wrong for the Sooners.
So much for that whole Brady Hoke to East Carolina idea. Going against the grains of some of the more recent reports regarding the head coach search at East Carolina, it appears Duke offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery will be named the new head coach of the Pirates. Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com reported that news late Saturday night. Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated also reported the news.
The 37-year old first-time head coach had been Duke’s offensive coordinator for the past two seasons following a year as wide receivers coach. Montgomery also coached quarterbacks at Duke in addition to his duties with calling offensive plays. Montgomery, a North Carolina native, is a Duke graduate, started his coaching career at Duke before jumping to a role with the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL for three years before returning to his alma mater in 2013. Montgomery also played in the NFL with the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders and a brief run on the Carolina Panthers practice squad. He also played a season with the Georgia Force of the Arena Football League.
As with most first-time head coaches, there is a valid reason to have questions about this hire for East Carolina, especially since it fired Ruffin McNeil from the position following his first losing season in four years. McNeil was 43-34 as head coach of the ECU program, with just two losing seasons with 5-7 marks (2011, 2015). McNeil is heading to the ACC to be a part of the Virginia coaching staff assembled by new head coach Bronco Mendenhall. The hiring of Montgomery is also a bit of a small surprise considering previous reports were suggesting former Michigan coach Brady Hoke and James Madison head coach Everett Withers were thought to be finalists for the job. Others that interviewed for the position included Virginia Tech’s Shane Beamer and North Carolina State offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
Montgomery will now get a chance to prove his worth and value as a head coach, and if he is successful he may end up staying on Duke’s radar for whenever the time comes to find a replacement for David Cutcliffe. After all, Montgomery is clearly a Duke guy, and if he proves he can be a solid head coach, he will most certainly be one of the names to keep in mind when the Duke vacancy opens up. But first, let’s see if he can cut it as a head coach at East Carolina, a program that should be capable of competing for an American Athletic Conference championship.
East Carolina named Kurt Benkert the team’s starting quarterback earlier this month. Now he is done for the 2015 season.
East Carolina announced today the sophomore quarterback will be sidelined for the 2015 season as a result of a right knee injury. The injury is believed to have occurred during a practice on Tuesday. Discomfort in the knee following practice led to additional evaluations on Wednesday, which have now led to the unfortunate injury update.
“Everyone in college football is affected by injuries and we are no different,” ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill said in a released statement. “I am disappointed for Kurt because he has worked so hard for this opportunity. We’ve got a lot of talent on this team and we’ll be asking everyone to step up.”
With the Pirates now back to searching for a new quarterback (Benkert was to replace Shane Carden), McNeil will evaluate juniors Blake Kemp and Cody Keith in what little time remains before the start of the new season. Keith is just coming back from his own injury, having come back from a foot injury earlier this summer.
East Carolina has indefinitely suspended three freshmen for their involvement in a BB gun incident. Linebackers Yiannis Bowden and Markel Winters and wide receiver Curtis Burston have been suspended by head coach Ruffin McNeil after each player received a citation for discharging a BB gun within city limits. All three players were cited and released by Greenville Police Tuesday evening.
According to police, the charges filed against the players are misdemeanor crimes. Witnesses had seen the players inside a vehicle firing the gun at the ground. The shots led to an elementary school being put on lockdown and police later discovered three guns in the possession of the East Carolina players. Police do not believe there was any harm involved with the players and the BB guns, but issued a public advisory to the community to demonstrate just how easily a BB gun can be confused for a lethal weapon and how that can easily lead to panic.
“One of the benchmarks of our program is that our players will be held accountable for their actions on and off the field, in the classroom and in the community,” McNeill said. “It is with this commitment in mind that I have suspended these individuals indefinitely for their actions that were irresponsible and dangerous. They have acknowledged their mistake and now part of our job is to help them learn from this situation.”
None of the three players appear on East Carolina’s two-deep depth chart and none have seen the field so far this season.
East Carolina had quite a day picking from and poking at their ACC opponents this season. In the past two weeks the Pirates have defeated Virginia Tech and North Carolina, and seen a billboard bragging about in-state dominance. Now the Pirates welcome the addition fo a former Hokies running back.
Chris Mangus, who left the Hokies in early August, will join the Pirates. Head coach Ruffin McNeil announced the new addition to the roster on Tuesday night. Mangus has been enrolled in classes at East Carolina since the start of the fall semester and will have two years remaining of NCAA eligibility after sitting out the remainder of the 2014 season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Mangus joined Virginia Tech in the Class of 2012 as a three-star prospect. In 2013 Mangus rushed for 141 yards.