In the world of college football, coaches often find themselves weighing loyalty on one hand and the demands of a new job on another.
For Scottie Montgomery, that has not been an issue.
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Duke’s offensive coordinator, who filled East Carolina’s head- coaching vacancy earlier this month, has had no trouble with the balancing act of preparing for a bowl game with his old team while managing the responsibilities that come with taking the reins of another program.
“The guys on offense, the guys on defense, the special-teams guys, they knew how I feel about them,” Montgomery said Thursday at Yankee Stadium in advance of Saturday’s Pinstripe Bowl between Duke and Indiana. “They knew whatever happened, I was going to be here, and it never crossed my mind not to be here.”
Nine coordinators of teams in bowl games have accepted head-coaching jobs elsewhere in recent weeks. Montgomery, who has spent the last two years as Duke’s offensive play-caller, is one of three who assumed dual responsibility.
“For him to stay here,” redshirt junior quarterback Thomas Sirk said, “I know he’s probably had some sleepless nights lately, and I just respect him so much for staying here and I appreciate that and all our guys appreciate it.”
Montgomery has needed to address his new team and hit the recruiting trail while helping the Blue Devils (7-5) prepare for their fourth bowl game in as many years. The fairly short commute in North Carolina between Durham and Greenville — the home of East Carolina — made the challenge manageable, but there was another factor behind Montgomery’s decision to stay for Duke’s trip to New York.
Duke has not won a bowl game since 1961, and Montgomery has been a part of the program for a long time. He played wide receiver at Duke from 1996 to 1999 and, after playing professionally for the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders, returned as wide receivers coach from 2006 to 2009. He spent the next three years on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ coaching staff before returning to Duke for the last three seasons.
“To win this bowl game with these guys,” said Montgomery, 37, “it’ll be something that I’ll be able to talk about when I’m 60 years old with my kids.”