Blackwell Making the Best Of a Bad Situation at East Carolina
Interim ECU head football coach David Blackwell took the podium in the offensive room of the Ward Sports Medicine Building Thursday afternoon to address the press and take questions in advance of ECU's Saturday game at N.C. State.
He said he thinks Montgomery found out about the decision this morning and he talked about how hard it was for both the staff and the team to hear the news of his removal as the head coach heading into for this week's final game of the season.
"Obviously this isn't where anybody wants to be right now. Really emotional day for our coaching staff and the players. It was not a good morning, not a good afternoon. It's been a long day," Blackwell said, "But we are where we are and the timing is never good on these kinds of things. Obviously two days before a football game."
"There are a lot of things going through our emotions and things that our players are feeling right now. Really all of our focus and our mindset as a coaching staff is on our players and moving forward to N.C. State and trying to represent this university in the most positive way as we can."
This hasn't been an easy process for anyone involved with the program and Blackwell articulated that fact Thursday afternoon saying Coach Mo handled the news professionally and with class.
"It has been a hard day to sit in this meeting earlier today and watch the emotions of these players and Coach Montgomery," said Blackwell, "The respect I have for him as a person. He has handled himself first class in everything he does and professional. He has been a great role model for us as a coaching staff on just how to be a father and how to handle your business. I have much respect on how he handled this thing and how he does it."
"Moving forward we have a game this weekend. We're going to prepare as best we can. Obviously we only have one day left to prepare," Blackwell said, "There's not a lot in 48 hours that we can do differently than what have done. We have a good plan in place and we expect to play a good football game on Saturday."
Blackwell stated the meeting with the players and Coach Montgomery was private and did not include the assistant coaches. The team was shaken by the news and it is anyone's guess as to how they will play on Saturday.
After that meeting, Coach Blackwell, Dave Hart and J.J. McLamb met with the team where it was emotional for all involved.
"Dave talked to them and then I talked to them and then there wasn't much more to be said but that there were decisions to be made and this is where we are," said Blackwell, "Right now my hundred percent focus is on the football players. You don't see the hurt. You don't want to be in that meeting. That was a rough meeting. Coach Montgomery was extremely loved by our football players. He's done a lot for them personally. My focus is on them and on the mindset of this football team and what we can do for them. Right now we're 48 hours from a football game and this happens, so it's not an ideal situation. We're going to deal with it the best way we can."
Blackwell said he was at Clemson when Dabo Swinney took over as the interim coach at Clemson and they won enough games where they gave Swinney the job. He also said he doesn't know if he remembers this happening 48 hours before a game before. When asked is he is ready to act as the head coach for ECU on Saturday he said that he is.
"I've been ready for this for a long time. Is there a blueprint for this? No...."
ECU takes on N.C. State this Saturday at high noon in Carter-Finley Stadium.