January 3, 2013
GREENVILLE, N.C. - PirateIllustrated.com has learned that ECU defensive coordinator Brian Mitchell's contract will not be renewed. Pirate head coach Ruffin McNeill made the decision to make a change.
Mitchell has been on McNeill's Pirate staff since January of 2010 after handling cornerbacks at Texas Tech for four years and eleven seasons with Brigham Young, Mitchell's alma mater.
Coach McNeill talked about the decision he had to make to release a good friend and a guy who he feels is a very solid coach.
"There's never a good time to make a coaching change, especially one that involves a friend and colleague who I respect professionally," McNeill said. "However, I have the responsibility and commitment to maintain the best interest for this program and East Carolina University."
ECU ranked 5th in C-USA in total defense and 6th in scoring defense, yielding nearly 31 points per game in 2012 in an 8-5 season.
The Pirates were ranked fourth in the league in rushing defense, giving up a 146 yards a game but were ranked eleventh in pass defense in pass happy Conference USA at 271 yards per game.
PI learned a month ago that the ECU Board of Trustees had requested Coach McNeill consider making a change defensively for the Pirates, but McNeill thought long and hard before opting to make a move this week.
The third year East Carolina head coach said a search would begin immediately and that he would not comment on personnel until the process has been completed.
The obvious list of candidates include former East Carolina defensive coordinator Greg Hudson who is currently at Florida State handling linebackers of Jimbo Fisher.
That list might also include Rick Smith who also worked on Skip Holtz's staff as a defensive backs coach. Smith's guidance was
always denoted by Hudson as pivital in his defensive coaching development.
Smith's most recent stop was at South Florida. When Skip Holtz was recently fired in Tampa, Holtz opted to can most of his current staff when he recently took the job at Louisiana Tech.
Former North Carolina player and head coach John Bunting who was a stellar linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles has shown interest in coming to ECU.
Beyond that, it is anyone's guess as to who McNeill has in mind.
Greg Hudson would have to be the early odds on favorite to return to Greenville. If he does return, Hudson could very well bring Rick Smith on or former ECU, Carolina Panthers and New York Giants cornerback Emmanuel McDaniel works on Jeff Connors' strength staff at ECU who is an interesting possibility to handle cornerbacks.
We will have more as events develop right here on PirateIllustrated.com.
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