Overcast 38° Good Afternoon
Overcast 38° Good Afternoon

Ruffin McNeill finds way back to East Carolina

Ruffin McNeill is home.

McNeill, who was Texas Tech's defensive coordinator, was introduced today as East Carolina's new head football coach. And for McNeill, it's definitely a homecoming. McNeill is from North Carolina, he played defensive back for the Pirates in the late 1970s and was an assistant coach there. Plus, his wife, Erlene, has a Master's degree from East Carolina and other family members are also alums.

McNeill replaces Skip Holtz, who left to become South Florida's head coach.

"This is my destination job," McNeill said today during his press conference. "Let's get that out front right now and make sure that's very clear. This is not a stepping-stone hop for Ruff. This is where I want to be until you all take me away from here. You'll have to drag me away."

McNeill, 51, said former Texas Tech offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley will join his staff to run the offense at East Carolina. McNeill said he'll continue to use Texas Tech's pass-heavy offense.

For McNeill, it's been a wild ride over the past three weeks. He coached the Red Raiders in place of Mike Leach in the Alamo Bowl, leading Texas Tech to a 41-27 win over Michigan State. McNeill expressed interest in remaining at Texas Tech and being a candidate for the head coaching job. But Texas Tech hired former Auburn Tommy Tuberville, who fired McNeill and Riley.

McNeill said one of his goal as head coach is to maintain strong academics at East Carolina. And his next goal?

"The next one is to win championships," McNeill said. "That's what you get in it for. That's why I'm here. I'm not coming to a place that has not won championships. Don't misunderstand that.

"When I talked to the team last night, we said that's a major goal - to win championships. Let's continue to compete and go to another level. Let's keep reaching for that. It'll come with your help."

New York Sports