East Carolina Pirates football

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East Carolina Pirates
2016 East Carolina Pirates football team
East Carolina Pirates wordmark.png
First season 1932
Athletic director Jeff Compher[1]
Head coach Scottie Montgomery
1st year, 3–9 (.250)
Stadium Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium
Field Bagwell Field
Year built 1963
Seating capacity 50,000
Field surface Tifton 419 Hybrid Bermuda
Location Greenville, North Carolina
NCAA division Division I FBS
Conference American Athletic Conference
Division East
Past conferences Independent (1932–1946)
North State Conference (1947–1961)
Independent (1962–1964)
Southern Conference (1965–1976)
Independent (1977–1996)
Conference USA (1997–2013)
All-time record 426–385–11 (.525)
Bowl record 9–11 (.450)
Conference titles 7
North State: 1953
SoCon: 1966, 1972, 1973, 1976
C-USA: 2008, 2009
Consensus All-Americans 3
Colors Purple and Gold[2]
Fight song E.C. Victory
Mascot PeeDee the Pirate
Marching band The Marching Pirates
Outfitter Adidas
Rivals NC State Wolfpack
North Carolina Tar Heels
Virginia Tech Hokies
UCF Knights
Website ecupirates.com
Uniform from 2007–2010

The East Carolina Pirates are a college football team that represents East Carolina University (variously "East Carolina" or "ECU"). The team is a member of the American Athletic Conference, which is in Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Scottie Montgomery is currently the team's head coach.

The Pirates have won seven conference championships and nine bowl games. The Pirates have 20 All-Americans over its history. Four players have their jerseys retired. Numerous Pirates have played in the NFL, including ten current players.

The team played its inaugural season in 1932. The team played home games at College Stadium on the main campus from the 1949 to the 1962 season. With the exception of the 1999 Miami football game, they have played their home games at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium every year since 1963. The stadium is located south of East Carolina's main campus near the intersection of South Charles Boulevard and 14th Street. Dowdy-Ficklen underwent an expansion in 2010, raising the capacity of the stadium to 50,000. The Pirates announced a $55 million renovation project to Dowdy-Ficklen in 2016, which will add a new tower above the south side stands, among other things.

The coaches and administrative support is located in the Ward Sports Medicine Building, which is located adjacent to the stadium. Strength and conditioning for the players occurs in the Murphy Center, a $13 million indoor training facility which was completed in June 2002 and which is located in the west end zone of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The Pirates also practice and train at the Cliff Moore Practice Facility, which was fully renovated in 2005 and which has two full-length NFL-caliber fields.


Early History (1932–1961)[edit]

1933 East Carolina football team
Coach Mathis
Coach Boone

East Carolina began organized football in the fall of 1932. The first football coach in school history was Kenneth Beatty.[3] They played under the nickname Teachers because the school was a teacher training school. The team played five games, with two in Greenville. They however did not score a point the whole season, while opponents scored a combined 187 points.[4] The 1933 season started just as they left the 1932 season. The team lost the first four games not scoring a point. The first victory in school history came against Campbell on November 11, 1933. The final score was 6-0. The 1933 team lost their final game against Appalachian St. 14–0. Coach Beatty left after the season.[5]

G.L. "Doc" Mathis was appointed the head coach after Coach Beatty left.[3] Before the season, the school decided to change their nickname. The Men's Athletic Association wanted a nickname to inspire "more spirit and enthusiasm." The name was changed from the Teachers to the present Pirates.[6] His first year, the team lost four games. But, they did win against Presbyterian Junior College and tied Old Dominion.[5] The 1935 season included three wins, which was the largest total so far in history. Coach Mathis left after the season.[7]

Bo Farley was introduced as the third head coach. The 1936 season was the first winning season in school history. Coach Farley's team won against Old Dominion, Duke Junior Varsity and Louisburg. He only stayed for one season.[7]

J. D. Alexander began coaching in the 1937 season. He had been the head coach at Lincoln Memorial in Tennessee. The season started off badly, losing the first five games, but the team finished on a high note, beating both High Point and Louisburg to finish out the season. The one win in the 1938 season came against Western Carolina. The 1938 team also tied against Guilford.

O. A. Hankner coached for only one season at East Carolina. His team managed only 18 points and lost every game. The team had numerous injuries that prevented the team from winning a game.

After the disastrous 1939 season, John Christenbury was tapped as the new head coach. His 1940 team had the first winning season since the 1936 season. The team won the first four games, and lost to North Carolina St. Freshmen and High Point. The only undefeated season happened in the 1941 season. The team scored 159 points compared to allowing 20. East Carolina did not field any athletics from 1942–1945 because of World War II. Coach Christenbury was killed in an explosion at Port Chicago, California on July 1, 1944. Replacing him at coach was Jim Johnson. Coach Johnson was a 16 letterman while at East Carolina. He was brought in to revitalize the athletic program that was on hiatus because of World War II. His football team went 5–3–1 in 1946. The 1947 season brought East Carolina into the North State Conference, their first conference affiliation. In the first year of conference play, the team had three wins compared to six losses. The next year was even more disastrous; as his team did not win once. Coach Johnson left after the 1948 season.

Bill Dole became the Pirates eighth coach after Coach Johnson left. His teams went 4–5–1 in 1949. That made the third consecutive losing year for East Carolina. The 1950 season turned out better. The team tied the amount of wins from the past three years with seven. Coach Dole's last year with the Pirates was in 1951. It was another losing season 4–6. Coach Dole left East Carolina and became the head coach at Davidson.

Jack Boone stepped in as the new head coach after Coach Dole left.[8] During his first year, he guided the Pirates to a 1952 regular season record of 6–2–2, and the team was invited to the Lions Bowl, their first bowl game ever. The Pirates came up short against Clarion College, losing 13–6. Coach Boone led the school to another first the next season, as the football team won the North State Conference championship. During the 1953 regular season, the team won eight while losing one en route to this championship. For the second time ever, East Carolina went to a bowl game. The team competed in the Elks Bowl, against Morris Harvey College, losing 12–0.[9]

The 1954 season would be the last winning season for four years. Over the four-year span the team won 12, losing 23 and tying twice. Coach Boone stayed at East Carolina for four more years, finally leaving after the 1961 season.[8] He, at the time, was the longest tenured coach. He helped usher the Pirates into a conference and post-season play.

Clarence Stasavich era (1962–1969)[edit]

Coach Stansavich

The tenth head coach for the Pirates was Clarence Stasavich.[10] He came to East Carolina after 16 years at Lenoir-Rhyne College.[10] His team went 5–4 his first year. The Pirates went to their first bowl game in nine years in 1963. The team went 9–1 and was invited to the Eastern Bowl.[10] They beat Northeastern, 27–6 in their first ever bowl win. The next two years, the team again went 9–1 and was invited to the Tangerine Bowl. They won both games against Massachusetts, 14–13, in 1964 and Maine, 31–0 in 1965. Also in 1964, Coach Stasavich was named the NAIA Coach of the Year. The 1965 season also marked entering their first conference, the Southern Conference, since the North State/Carolinas Conference.

Despite going 4–5–1, Coach Stasavich guided the Pirates to their first conference championship in 13 years. Even though East Carolina won eight games in 1967, they were not invited to a bowl game. The last two seasons for Coach Stasavich were losing seasons. The teams went 4–6 and 2–7.[11][12] Stansavich departed East Carolina with a 50–27–1 record and was the winningest head coach in ECU football history until Steve Logan surpassed him in 1999.[13]

Mike McGee era (1970)[edit]

Mike McGee coached at East Carolina for only the 1970 season.[14] He compiled a 3–8 record.[15] His team recorded wins over Furman, Marshall and Davidson. The victory over Marshall was sadly the final football game for the 75 Marshall players, coaches, and administrators that departed on Southern Airways Flight 932 for Huntington as their plane crashed, leaving no survivors. This tragedy is memorialized in the movie We Are Marshall, and a plaque memorializing the victims is located outside the visitors' locker room at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. McGee left for the 1971 season to become head coach at his alma mater, Duke.[14] The 1970 season would also mark the first game in the ECU-NC State series. He was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1990.[14]

Sonny Randle era (1971–1973)[edit]

Former NFL wide receiver Sonny Randle, an assistant coach in 1970, was tapped to take over as head coach after McGee left.[15] His first season only saw four victories. But one victory came over instate rival, North Carolina State. The 1972 season accumulated the most wins in a season for the Pirates, since the 1965 season.[16] The team won the Southern Conference Championship, which was the first time since the 1966 season. The only two losses of the season came against North Carolina State and North Carolina.[16] The 1973 season was much like the 1972 season. The team again won nine games, while only losing to North Carolina State and North Carolina.[17] They also won the conference championship. After the 1973 season, Randle left to become the head coach at his alma mater, Virginia.[15] His record at ECU was 22–10.[18]

Pat Dye era (1974–1979)[edit]

East Carolina brought in Alabama linebackers coach Pat Dye as their new head coach in 1974.[19] In his first season, the Pirates won seven games, while losing four.[20] The next year, Coach Dye won even more games.[21] The team started the season with an opening losses to North Carolina State and Appalachian State. On October 24, 1975, longtime coach and administrator, Clarence Stasavich died.[22] This was one day before the Pirates beat the UNC Tar Heels for the first time ever, 38-17, with Coach Dye preemptively ending the game and taunting the Tar Heels by downing the ball just yards from goal line late in the game. Two games later, on November 8, East Carolina and Dye faced former ECU coach Sonny Randle, who commented on leaving to the ACC program, that the difference between the Virginia program and the ECU program "was like comparing Apples and Oranges." ECU pelted Virginia 61-10 as ECU fans, including then Chancellor Leo Warren Jenkins, threw tons of apples and oranges onto the field late in the fourth quarter and chanted "We Can Handle, Sonny Randle".[23]

Coach Dye brought the team to the nine win plateau again in 1976.[24] His team also became Southern Conference Champions for the first time under his tenure. It would also be the last time the Pirates ever would become Southern Conference champions. East Carolina left the conference after the 1976 season.[25] The team again became independent.[25] The team had a winning season in 1977.[26] The Pirates won its opener again NC State, 28–23. The next game it went to Durham to play Duke. Former Pirates coach Mike McGee was still the coach. East Carolina beat the Blue Devils 17–16. The team went on to win eight, while losing three for the season. East Carolina began the 1978 season under the new Division 1-A moniker. Coach Dye guided the Pirates to an 8–3 record after the season.[27] The team only lost to instate rivals North Carolina and North Carolina State, and Southern Mississippi. With the winning mark, ECU went to their first bowl game in 13 years. They beat Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl, 35–13. The 1979 season would be the last for Coach Dye at East Carolina. The team again had a winning season, 7–3–1, but was not invited to a bowl game.[28] He left to serve as head coach at Wyoming for a season, before moving again to Auburn.[29] Dye left ECU after compiling a 48–18–1 record.[30]

Ed Emory era (1980–1984)[edit]

Georgia Tech defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Ed Emory, an ECU alum, became the Pirates fourteenth head coach.[31] His first two years were lackluster, going 4–7 and 5–6.[32][33] After a 7-4 campaign in 1982,[34] Emory lead East Carolina to a Pirate first in the 1983 season. That team went 8–3, losing only to Florida State, Florida and Miami.[35] The Pirates lost by a combined 13 points in those three losses. The team was ranked number 20 in the final AP Poll, the first time East Carolina finished ranked in the polls. The next season the team won two games while losing nine.[36] Coach Emory was fired after the season.[37] He left with a 26–29 record.[38]

Art Baker era (1985–1988)[edit]

Florida State quarterbacks coach Art Baker, a former ECU assistant, became the next head coach.[39] He had been the head coach at Furman and The Citadel.[39] Coach Baker led the Pirates to records of 2–9 in 1985,[40] 2–9 in 1986,[41] 5–6 in 1987[42] and 3–8 in 1988.[43] Baker never had a winning record as head coach at East Carolina. His teams went 12–32 over four years[44] and he was fired after the 1988 season.[45]

Bill Lewis era (1989–1991)[edit]

East Carolina tapped Georgia defensive coordinator and former Wyoming head coach Bill Lewis as Baker's replacement.[46] His first year, Coach Lewis won six games, including wins over Cincinnati and Virginia Tech.[47] This was the first winning season for the Pirates since the 1983 season. The 1990 season was mediocre for the football team, going 5–6.[48] The best winning season for East Carolina occurred in the 1991 season.[49] After losing the opening game to Illinois, 31–38, the Pirates won every other game. Notable wins were South Carolina, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech. For their accomplishment, the Peach Bowl invited them to play in their 1992 contest.[50] The team played NC State and came from behind to win 37–34.[50] The Pirates finished the season ranked number #9 in the AP and Coaches Poll.[49] After the season, Lewis won the 1991 Coach-of-the-Year Award. Lewis left East Carolina with a 21–12–1 record to become the new head coach at Georgia Tech.[51][46]

Steve Logan era (1992–2002)[edit]

Coach Logan

The Pirates chose their offensive coordinator Steve Logan to succeed Lewis, promoting him to serve as their seventeenth head football coach.[52] He led East Carolina for eleven seasons, from 1992–2002. The 1992 and 1993 seasons were both losing efforts.[53][54]

In 1994 Coach Logan logged his first winning season as a head coach, with ECU winning seven games and losing four in the regular season.[55] The team was rewarded by being invited to the Liberty Bowl to face Illinois.[56] The Fighting Illini shut out the Pirates 30–0.[57] This was their first bowl game shutout since the Elks Bowl against Morris Harvey in 1954. The Pirates took the momentum from the 1994 season and increased their win count to nine, while losing three in the 1995 season.[58] The only losses were to Tennessee, Illinois and Cincinnati. For their victories, the Pirates were invited again to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee, where they played Stanford and won 19–13.[59] After the bowl game victory, East Carolina was ranked number 23 in the final Coaches Poll of the year.

The 1996 season was another winning year, where they went 8–3 with wins over South Carolina, Miami and NC State.[60] Because they were still Independent, with no bowl tie-ins, the Pirates were left out of post-season play. For the 1997 season, the University was invited to Conference USA.[61] This would be the football team's first year of conference play since they left the Southern Conference in 1976. The team struggled to shake mediocrity for their first two Conference USA seasons, going 5–6 and 6–5, respectively.[62][63]

The next three years were more fruitful for the Pirates with quarterback David Garrard.[64] Garrard would go on to a successful NFL career with the Jacksonville Jaguars as well as one season with the New York Jets.[65][66] The team enjoyed three straight bowls, losing two while winning one. After going 4–8 in 2002,[67] the administration and Logan agreed to part ways.[68][69] Logan left ECU as the winningest head coach in school history, surpassing Clarence Stasavich during the 1999 season.[70] Logan's record at ECU was 69–58.[71]

John Thompson era (2003–2004)[edit]

Replacing Logan as the Pirates head coach was Florida defensive coordinator John Thompson.[72] Thompson came to ECU with a great resume as an assistant coach and a repuation as a brilliant defensive mind, working under Lou Holtz at Arkansas, Joe Raymond Peace at Louisiana Tech, Curley Hallman and Jeff Bower at Southern Miss, Houston Nutt at Arkansas and Ron Zook at Florida.[73]

Coach Thompson's tenure set the Pirates back several years, accumulating only three wins over two years, with records of 1–11 in 2003[74] and 2–9 in 2004.[75] His teams beat only Army both years and Tulane his second year. Amid much fan and administration impatience and frustration with the struggles of the football program, athletics director Terry Holland fired Thompson after the 2004 season.[76] Thompson left with an abysmal 3–20 record.[77]

Skip Holtz era (2005–2009)[edit]

Coach Holtz
East Carolina huddling together before the Virginia Tech game

In December 2004, Holland brought in former UConn head coach Skip Holtz, son of legendary coach Lou Holtz,[78] to become the Pirates nineteenth head football coach.[79]

In his first season, Coach Holtz helped turn the team around winning five games, two more wins than the John Thompson had accomplished in his entire tenure.[80] His second season marked the Pirates first winning season since 2000, winning seven games, and East Carolina was bowl-eligible for the first time since the 2001 season.[81] The 2006 team had notable wins over The Virginia, Southern Miss, Central Florida and North Carolina State. A loss to Rice in the last conference game of the year kept the Pirates out of the Conference USA Championship Game. For the teams winning season, the newly created Papajohns.com Bowl invited the team to play in their contest, where East Carolina lost to former C-USA rival South Florida, 24–7.[82]

In 2007, Holtz' Pirates continued their winning ways. The team won eight regular season games, earning the team their second bowl game in two years.[83] The Pirates played the Boise State in the Hawai'i Bowl, defeating the Broncos by a score of 41–38.[84] The Hawaii Bowl win marked the first for the Pirates since the Galleryfurniture.com Bowl win against Texas Tech in 2000.[84]

On August 30, 2008 the Pirates pulled off a stunning upset against then 17th ranked Virginia Tech 27–22 on a late blocked punt returned for a touchdown by senior wide receiver T.J. Lee.[85] The following week they pulled off an even stronger upset of then 8th ranked West Virginia by the score of 24–3, not allowing a touchdown for the entire game.[86] This was the Pirates third straight victory against a top-25 ranked opponent, counting Boise State from the year before. As a result, East Carolina was awarded with the number 14 ranking in the Associated Press poll and 20th in the USA Today poll, the highest since January 1992 when the Pirates were ranked ninth. The Pirates finished the 2008 regular season at 9-5, winning the Eastern Division of Conference USA and defeating Tulsa in the Championship game.[87] This was the first Conference Championship for ECU since 1976. ECU was then invited to the Auto Zone Liberty bowl to face Kentucky, where the Pirates controlled the first half, but fell to UK 25-19.[88] The next season, East Carolina produced a second Conference USA title with a 38-32 win over Houston, and finished the season at 9–5 after an overtime loss to the Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl.[89][90]

On January 14, 2010, it was announced[91] that Holtz was leaving his position at East Carolina to take the head football coach position at the South Florida, replacing the recently fired Jim Leavitt.[92][93] Holtz left ECU with a 38–27 record.[94]

Ruffin McNeill era (2010–2015)[edit]

Coach McNeill

On January 21, 2010, it was announced that Texas Tech defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill would become the 20th head coach of the Pirates.[95] McNeill was a defensive back for the Pirates for four years, three of which he was a starter and two he served as team captain. McNeill graduated from East Carolina University in 1980. McNeill's hiring made him the first African American head coach in ECU football history.[96]

In his first season, the Pirates went 6–6 beating in state rival NC State.[97] They lost to Maryland in the Military Bowl to finish the season at 6–7.[98] 2011 saw the Pirates going 5–7[99] before bouncing back in 2012 finishing 8–5,[100] losing to Louisiana-Lafayette in the New Orleans Bowl by a score of 43–34.[101]

In 2013, McNeill took the Pirates to a 10–3 season; the second time in school history.[102] The season included a 55–31 win over North Carolina in Chapel Hill,[103] finishing with a bowl win over Ohio in the Beef O' Brady's Bowl.[104] The 2014 campaign started off promising with a 28-21 win at Virginia Tech[105] and a 70-41 win over North Carolina.[106] The momentum would slow down as the Pirates finished 8–4 before losing to Florida in the Birmingham Bowl.[107]

After a 2015 campaign where the Pirates regressed to 5–7 overall and 3–5 in American Athletic Conference play,[108] East Carolina athletics director Jeff Compher announced on December 4, 2015 that the university had relieved McNeill of his duties as head football coach.[109] McNeill finished his 6-year tenure at East Carolina with a 42–34 overall record, 30–18 combined Conference USA and American Athletic Conference records, and a 1–3 bowl record.[110][111]

Scottie Montgomery era (2016–present)[edit]

On December 13, 2015, athletics director Jeff Compher announced Scottie Montgomery as the 21st head football coach at East Carolina University.[112] Montgomery came to Greenville after a stint as associate head coach and offensive coordinator at Duke under head coach David Cutcliffe. Montgomery had served as wide receivers coach for the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers under head coach Mike Tomlin, and in that same role at Duke.[113]

In Montgomery's first season, the Pirates compiled a record of 3–9.[114]


Dowdy–Ficklen Stadium[edit]

The Pirates play their home games at Bagwell Field at Dowdy–Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, North Carolina. The stadium is located at the intersection of 14th Street and Charles Avenue. It has a maximum capacity of 50,000. Bagwell Field has been recognized as having the second best field design in the nation.[115]

Dr. Leo Jenkins, President of East Carolina, announced his plans to build a new stadium for the Pirates on October 7, 1961. It took a year for Dr. Jenkins to raise $283,387, even though only $200,000 was requested. The James Skinner Ficklen Memorial Stadium was dedicated on September 21, 1963. The stadium included stands on the south side, a press box and a lighting system.

James S. Ficklen, a Greenville tobacco company executive, established the Ficklen Foundation, which is a financial aid foundation. Ronald and Mary Ellen Dowdy, a real estate developer in Orlando, Florida, donated $1 million to the school. For his donation, Ficklen Stadium was renamed the Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in 1994. Al and Debbie Bagwell of Lake Gaston, Virginia, donated a large gift to the school and the field was named Bagwell Field in their honor in 1995.

Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium has gone through many enhancements over the years. The north side stands were built in 1968, increasing capacity to 20,000. During 1977–1978, seating was increased by 15,000. In 1994, the stadium was renamed Dowdy-Ficklen and roads were improved around the stadium. For the 1996–1998 seasons, the upper deck on the north side was built and improvements were made to the press box on the south side. A new scoreboard was introduced in 1999 and a 12-foot (3.7 m), three ton sculpture of the Pirate was unveiled.

The east end zone has been enclosed, bringing the stadium's capacity to 50,000. An 88 ft x 28 ft HD scoreboard was added to the top of the section, which stands as one of the largest and most advanced scoreboards in the nation.

In May 2016, East Carolina revealed a $55 million renovation project for Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, which is a portion of its athletic facilities master plan. The project includes a four story tower above the south side stands with over 1,000 new premium seats and boxes, a new press box, and a new field-level club section in the north end zone. It is slated to begin construction after the 2017 football season and be completed in time for the 2018 football season.[116]

Cliff Moore Practice Facility[edit]

The NFL-caliber Cliff Moore Practice Facility is located between Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and Clark-LeClair Stadium on Charles Boulevard. The facility is a hallmark of the ECU athletic complex and consists of three fields, two natural and one FieldTurf. The natural fields are based on Dowdy-Ficklen field. The fields are Bermuda Tift grass with gravel and sand-based drainage. The fields are parallel to one another and run north to south. The FieldTurf field is perpendicular to the natural grass fields. The field is 78,120 square feet (7,258 m2).

Murphy Center[edit]

The Murphy Center is located in the west endzone at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. It is a 52,475-square-foot (4,875.1 m2) multi-purpose building. The building opened its doors to ECU student-athletes in June 2002 and was dedicated on September 13, 2002. On the ground floor is the Walter and Marie Williams Strength and Conditioning Area where athletes train. Also on the ground floor is the Robert and Virginia Maynard Lobby. On the second story is the C. Felix and Margaret Blount Harvey Banquet Hall, the Dick and Susan Jones Academic Enhancement Center and the Bill and Emily Furr Lobby. Located between Harvey Hall and the Jones Academic Enhancement Center is the sport memorabilia area. The building is named for Pete and Lynn Murphy of Rose Hill, North Carolina. The center was built for approximately $13 million.

Ward Sports Medicine Building[edit]

The Ward Sports Medicine Building is located adjacent to the Murphy Center at East Carolina. It is a three-story building that was built in 1989. It is 80,283 square feet (7,458.5 m2) and cost $8 million to build.

On the first floor are football locker rooms, athletic training room, equipment room, and a women's locker room which hosts the ECU softball, women's soccer, and women's tennis teams. Also on the first floor are meeting rooms for the football team. The eight rooms consist of one 107-seat team meeting room, one 55-seat unit room, and six 12 to 15 team positional rooms.

On the second floor are football and basketball offices, the ECU Hall of Fame, and classrooms for students. On the third floor, the Pirate Club, the Director of Athletics Terry Holland, and other administrative and support officials have offices. The building is named for two alumni, Robert Allen (Bob) and Margaret Ann Cude Ward.



East Carolina and Marshall have a "friendly" rivalry with one another. They are forever bonded in history by the tragic plane crash on November 14, 1970. The Thundering Herd were coming back from Greenville, North Carolina after a 17-14 loss to the Pirates when their plane crashed near Ceredo, West Virginia. The teams have been bonded ever since. East Carolina has since installed a large Marshall Memorial plaque outside of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium honoring those that passed in the crash.

One of East Carolina and Marshall's most memorable games was the 2001 GMAC Bowl as they combined for a bowl record 125 points. Marshall overcame a 30-point deficit to beat East Carolina 64-61 in double overtime. East Carolina left for the American Conference in 2014, leaving questions as to the future of the series, but the two teams announced a home-and-home series for 2020 and 2021.

East Carolina leads the all-time record over Marshall 10-5. ECU is 6-3 against the Herd from 2005 to 2013 when both schools were in Conference USA.

Series results[edit]

Southern Miss[edit]

The Pirates' most played opponent in their history has been the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, and this series was at one time considered to be one of the more consistent old southern series in college football. The teams first met in 1951, and played annually from 1983–2013. Fans of both teams have generally viewed this rivalry as one of mutual respect, and the two teams tended to have extremely physical games taking place in the tough late summer conditions of Mississippi or Eastern North Carolina. When ECU left Conference USA for the American Conference, the two teams put their series on hold for the extended future. USM holds the win-loss record at 27-12.

Series results[edit]

NC State[edit]

ECU has played N.C. State 20 times since the end of the 1978 season. The schools are approximately 85 miles (137 km) apart and are the largest (N.C. State) and third largest (East Carolina) universities in the state. The series started as a yearly occurrence, from 1970–1987, but was halted after an off-field incidence in 1987. The next time the two teams played was in the 1992 Peach Bowl, when the Pirates came from behind to win 37–34. The Wolfpack's first trip to Greenville occurred in 1999, when East Carolina beat State 23–6. In the 2006 season, the Wolfpack and Pirates agreed to a five-year home-and-home series to revive the rivalry.

2007 brought the creation of the football rivalry's trophy, The Victory Barrel, created in a collaborative effort by both schools' Student Governments. East Carolina and N.C. State will extend the series with games added in 2019 and 2022. NC State leads the overall series 16–13, but East Carolina has won nine out of the last fourteen, including a 33-30 victory over NC State in 2016.

Series results[edit]

North Carolina[edit]

East Carolina and North Carolina is the eleventh-most played series for ECU since 1978. Because both are large state schools, East Carolina being the third largest and North Carolina being the second largest, many fans and alumni live close to one another. The series began in 1972; the two played eight times between 1972 and 1981 (all in Chapel Hill), and ten times between 2001 and 2014. Overall, UNC officially leads the series 11-4-1 (12-4-1 including the vacated 2009 game). ECU won the last two contests by large margins (55-31 and 70-41).

The ECU-UNC football series is also political in nature. In 1973, then ECU Chancellor Leo Warren Jenkins approached the North Carolina General Assembly and UNC system President William Friday about establishing a four-year medical school at ECU. At the time, North Carolina's only public medical school was in Chapel Hill and had been since 1879. ECU had a smaller program where students completed one year in Greenville and then transferred to finish their medical education at the larger school in Chapel Hill. Friday was concerned that the state could not afford to fund two medical schools, and refused to recommend to the General Assembly that ECU be granted a full-time four year medical school. The 1973 game in Chapel Hill resulted in a 28-27 UNC victory, but the underdog Pirates' competitiveness with the state's flagship university stunned the media and fans assembled at Kenan Stadium. In 1974, President Friday changed his mind on Chancellor Jenkins' request to establish a four-year medical school at ECU, and, today, the Brody School of Medicine operates alongside its sister school in Chapel Hill as the state's only publicly funded medical schools.[117]

Series results[edit]

† – North Carolina vacated all wins from 2009.


A rivalry that has recently become more intense has been ECU's rivalry with the UCF Knights. Considered one of the more entertaining rivalries in the American Athletic Conference, the teams have met 9 times since 2005 when UCF joined ECU in both teams' former conference, Conference USA. After taking a 1-year hiatus in 2013, the teams will continue to meet annually as members of the East Division of the American Conference. East Carolina leads the series 10–5, with ECU winning the last meeting 44–7.

The most notable matchup of the rivalry was the 2014 iteration, an ESPN primetime Thursday night game that saw East Carolina score 21 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to take the lead, only to fall to a 51-yard Hail Mary touchdown from Justin Holman to Breshad Perriman with time expiring.

Series Results[edit]

Other notable series[edit]

Virginia Tech[edit]

East Carolina has played Virginia Tech regularly since 2007, and the two schools signed a deal to play annually on an alternating home basis from 2013 until 2020. The regularity of this series has certainly heated up the importance of the game between the two schools in recent years, and the competitiveness of the series has made it a game that could arguably be considered a regional rivalry. Virginia Tech won the first meeting between the two in 1956, 37-2, but East Carolina's first win came the next time the teams met in 1987, 32-23. The two schools met annually from 1987–1994. In 2007, the Pirates and the Hokies met on the field in Blacksburg in the first football game after the Virginia Tech massacre, where the Hokies won 17-7. In 2008, the Pirates beat the Hokies in Charlotte with a blocked punt 27-22. Virginia Tech leads the series 13-7.

Series results[edit]

South Carolina[edit]

East Carolina has played South Carolina 19 times since 1977, and the two schools have a signed deal in place to play future games in Greenville, North Carolina in 2019 and 2021 as well as in Columbia, South Carolina in 2020. South Carolina won the first 8 contests, however the intensity of this series ramped up considerably when ECU won 5 out of 7 games during the 1990s. Subsequently, the series was subjected to a 12-year hiatus until resuming once again at a neutral site game in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2011. South Carolina leads the series 14-5.

Series results[edit]

West Virginia[edit]

The Pirates have played West Virginia 21 times since 1970. From 2002 to 2009, the Pirates and the Mountaineers met annually. The first time the two teams met was in Greenville in 1970, where West Virginia won 28-14 and would continue to win the next few series until 1995, when East Carolina recorded its first win over the Mountaineers in Greenville, 23-20. East Carolina has never beaten West Virginia in Morgantown. The two teams agreed to extend the series in 2013, after a three-year break. West Virginia leads the series 18-3.

Series Results[edit]


  • Colors – The Pirates official colors are old gold and royal purple. Helmets are metallic purple with the skull and crossbones logo. Uniforms are either all purple, purple and white, or all white.[120] In 2013, ECU also released an alternate black uniform for the September 5th game against FAU. Since the debut of the all black uniform, ECU now also wears variations of purple and black as well as black and white.[121]
  • Songs – The fight song, known as E.C. Victory, is played after every touchdown or big play. The football players sing the alma mater with the students after every home game. The Jimi Hendrix song Purple Haze plays as the players run onto the field before kickoff.
  • Nicknames – East Carolina football teams have had several nicknames over the years including the Teachers, Buccaneers, or EC. Originally, the sports teams were called the Teachers. In 1934, the Men's Athletic Association decided they wanted a new nickname to inspire "more spirit and enthusiasm." The Pirate was chosen, and is the official nickname.
  • Mascots – The Pirate is the official mascot of the university. It was formally known as PeeDee the Pirate, from its inception in 1983 until December 1985, when Chancellor Howell dropped PeeDee from the name. The University once again adopted the name PeeDee the Pirate after the unveiling of an updated look for the Pirate in the 2008 homecoming football game against the Marshall Thundering Herd. The first official mascot was Buc, a Great Dane. He was the mascot from 1958, until his death in 1961. Other mascots included Pete, a dog who was a mascot in the 1970s and a live wildcat from 1930–1931.
  • Game day traditions – Many game weekend traditions occur each home football game. Each Friday is Purple and Gold Day, or Paint it Purple Fridays. Supporters of the university are encouraged to wear colors and insignias of the university the day before the game. Before each game, the Pirate Walk occurs. The football players walk from the North side of the stadium to the locker room and fans come by to show support to the team. When ECU takes the field, they run through purple smoke, before huddling up and running onto the field. Some say it is one of the best entrances in the country. A cannon is fired when the players run onto the field and after every score. During the intermission between the third and fourth quarter a new flag is raised. The normal jolly roger flag with a black background is lowered and replaced with a No Quarter flag. The No Quarter flag is a jolly roger flag with a burgundy background, to symbolize soaked blood. Below the jolly roger are the words No Quarter.

Statistics and records[edit]

Season-by-season results[edit]

This is a partial list of the last ten seasons completed by the Pirates. For the full season-by-season results, see List of East Carolina Pirates football seasons.
Conference Champions Bowl game berth[122]
Season Coach Conference Season results Bowl result Final ranking
Conference finish Wins Losses Ties[123] AP Poll[124] Coaches Poll[125]
2005 Skip Holtz Conference USA East 4th 5 6
2006 Skip Holtz Conference USA East 2nd 7 6 Lost Papajohns.com Bowl vs. South Florida 24–7
2007 Skip Holtz Conference USA East T–2nd 8 5 Won Hawai'i Bowl vs. Boise State 41–38
2008 Skip Holtz Conference USA East 1st 9 5 Lost Liberty Bowl vs. Kentucky 25–19
2009 Skip Holtz Conference USA East 1st 9 5 Lost Liberty Bowl vs. Arkansas 20–17 OT
2010 Ruffin McNeill Conference USA East T–2nd 6 7 Lost Military Bowl vs. Maryland 51–20
2011 Ruffin McNeill Conference USA East 3rd 5 7
2012 Ruffin McNeill Conference USA East T–1st 8 5 Lost New Orleans Bowl vs. Louisiana-Lafayette 43–34
2013 Ruffin McNeill Conference USA East 2nd 10 3 Won Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl vs. Ohio 37–20
2014 Ruffin McNeill American Athletic Conference 4th 8 5 Lost Birmingham Bowl vs. Florida 28–20
2015 Ruffin McNeill American Athletic Conference East 5th 5 7
2016 Scottie Montgomery American Athletic Conference East T–4th 3 9
Totals 426 390 11 (regular season only)
9 11 0 (bowl games only)
435 401 11 (all games)

Post season[edit]

Conference championships[edit]

East Carolina has been in a total of four conferences: North State, Southern, Conference USA and the American Athletic Conference. The team were the champions in the North State Conference in 1953. The Pirates won the Southern Conference three times outright, and shared the championship once. On December 5, 2008 East Carolina Defeated Tulsa 27-24 to capture the 2008 Conference USA championship, their first conference title in 32 years. On December 5, 2009, they defeated Houston 38-32 to win their 2nd stratght C-USA title.

Date Conference
1953 North State Conference Champions
1966 Southern Conference Co-Champions
1972 Southern Conference Champions
1973 Southern Conference Champions
1976 Southern Conference Champions
2008 Conference USA Champions
2009 Conference USA Champions

Bowl games[edit]

The Pirates have participated in 20 bowl games. Of the 20 games, they have won nine and lost eleven. The first five bowl games occurred before the split of Division I football. The team went to one bowl game twice, the Tangerine Bowl and have been to the Liberty Bowl four times. East Carolina ranks 64 in the number of Division 1-A bowl games.[126] The team ranks 70 in the number of Division 1-A bowl wins.[127]

Total Record: 9–11
Date Bowl Opponent Location Result/Time
December 13, 1952 Lions Bowl Clarion Salisbury, North Carolina L, 6–13
January 2, 1954[128] Elks Bowl Morris Harvey Greenville, North Carolina L, 0–12
December 14, 1963 Eastern Bowl Northeastern Allentown, Pennsylvania W, 27–6
December 12, 1964 Tangerine Bowl UMass Orlando, Florida W, 14–13
December 11, 1965 Tangerine Bowl Maine Orlando, Florida W, 31–0
December 16, 1978 Independence Bowl Louisiana Tech Shreveport, Louisiana W, 35–13
January 2, 1992 Peach Bowl NC State Atlanta, Georgia W, 37–34
December 31, 1994 Liberty Bowl Illinois Memphis, Tennessee L, 0–30
December 30, 1995 Liberty Bowl Stanford Memphis, Tennessee W, 19–13
December 22, 1999 Mobile Alabama Bowl TCU Mobile, Alabama L, 14–28
December 27, 2000 Galleryfurniture.com Bowl Texas Tech Houston, Texas W, 40–27
December 19, 2001 GMAC Bowl Marshall Mobile, Alabama L, 61–64 2OT
December 23, 2006 PapaJohns.com Bowl South Florida Birmingham, Alabama L, 7–24
December 23, 2007 Hawaiʻi Bowl Boise State Honolulu, Hawaii W, 41–38
January 2, 2009 Liberty Bowl Kentucky Memphis, Tennessee L, 19–25
January 2, 2010 Liberty Bowl Arkansas Memphis, Tennessee L, 17–20 OT
December 29, 2010 Military Bowl Maryland Washington, D.C. L, 20–51
December 22, 2012 New Orleans Bowl Louisiana–Lafayette New Orleans L, 34–43
December 23, 2013 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl Ohio St. Petersburg, Florida W, 37–20
January 3, 2015 Birmingham Bowl Florida Birmigham, Alabama L, 20–28

Players of note[edit]


Every year, several publications release lists of their ideal "team". The athletes on these lists are referred to as All-Americans. The NCAA recognizes five All-American lists. They are the Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association, Football Writers Association of America, The Sporting News, and the Walter Camp Football Foundation.[129] Some of these also have levels such as a first team All-American, or second team, or third team. A consensus All-American is determined using a point system; three points if the player was selected for the first team, two points for the second team, and one point for the third team. East Carolina has had 25 All-Americans (three consensus) in its history.

1955 Lou Hallow – Lineman
1964 Bill Cline – QB
1965 Dave Alexander – FB
1974 Danny KepleyLB
1975 Jim Bolding – DB
1976 Jim Bolding – DB
Cary Godette – DE
1979 Wayne Inman – OL
1981 Tootie RobbinsOL
1982 Jody SchulzDE
1983 Terry LongOL
1989 Junior RobinsonDB, KR
1990 Robert JonesLB
1991 Jeff BlakeQB
Dion Johnson – WR, KR
Robert Jones – LB
1992 Tom Scott – OL
1993 Carlester Crumpler Jr.TE
1999 Andrew BayesP
2001 Pernell Griffin – LB
Leonard HenryFB
2007 Chris JohnsonRB-KR
2009 Matt Dodge – P
2014 Justin HardyWR
2016 Zay JonesWR

NCAA records[edit]

2016 - Wide receiver Zay Jones became the NCAA Division I football single season leader in receptions with 158 for the 2016 season, breaking the record of 155 set by Freddie Barnes of Bowling Green in 2009.

2016 - Wide receiver Zay Jones became the NCAA Division I football career leader in receptions with 399 receptions from 2013–2016, breaking the record of 387 held by his former ECU Pirate teammate Justin Hardy.

2016 - With a 33-30 victory over rival North Carolina State on September 9, 2016, ECU became the first "Non-Power" program to defeat a single "Power Conference" (vs. ACC) six-consecutive times from 2013–16, thereby breaking a four-way tie with TCU (vs. BIG XII), Boise State (vs. PAC-12), and BYU (vs. PAC-12) all of which each had previously established five-game winning streaks against a single "Power Conference." ECU defeated regional rivals Virginia Tech, North Carolina, and North Carolina State two-consecutive times each respectively during the Pirates' six-game winning streak against the ACC.

2014 - Wide receiver Justin Hardy became the NCAA Division I football career leader in receptions with 387 receptions from 2010–2014, breaking the record of 349 held by Ryan Broyles of the University of Oklahoma.

2011 - Quarterback Dominique Davis became the NCAA Division I football career leader in consecutive completions in a single game with 26 completions against the Naval Academy on October 22, 2011, breaking the record of 23 straight completions set in 1998 by Tee Martin of Tennessee against South Carolina and tied in 2004 by Aaron Rodgers of California versus Southern California.

2011 - Quarterback Dominique Davis became the NCAA Division I football career leader in consecutive completions in one or more games with 36 completions, last 10 attempts vs. Memphis, Oct. 15, 2011 and first 26 vs. Navy, Oct. 22, 2011, breaking the NCAA mark of 26 set in 2004 by Aaron Rodgers.

2007 - Chris Johnson (running back) set an NCAA bowl record with 408 all-purpose yards in a 41-38 victory over No. 24 Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl on December 23, 2007.

Individual honors[edit]

2014 – Quarterback Shane Carden was named the American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

2013 – Quarterback Shane Carden was named the Conference USA Most Valuable Player.

2010 – Wide receiver Dwayne Harris was named the Conference USA Most Valuable Player.

1991 – Head Coach Bill Lewis was named the AFCA Division 1-A Coach of the Year.

1991 - Quarterback Jeff Blake was named ECAC Division 1-A Player-of-the-Year after leading Pirates to No. 9 national ranking (Blake also finished seventh in the 1991 Heisman Trophy balloting).

NFL Draft[edit]

Chris Johnson, the 24th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft

East Carolina has had 63 players picked in the draft. Their first ever selection was Roger Thrift, a blocker that was picked by the Cleveland Browns, in the 1951 NFL Draft. In the 1992 NFL Draft, linebacker Robert Jones was picked in the first round (#24 overall) and in the 2008 NFL Draft, running back Chris Johnson, was picked by the Tennessee Titans (#24 overall).

David Garrard, the 108th pick overall in the 2002 draft

Retired numbers[edit]

East Carolina have retired four jerseys for their football team. Two players died while on the team, Robert Farris and Norman Swindell, and the two other players, James Speight and Roger Thrift, set record while playing for the Pirates. Robert Farris wore jersey number 16. Norman Swindell wore jersey number 18. James Speight wore jersey number 29. Roger Thrift wore jersey number 36.

East Carolina Pirates retired numbers
No. Player Pos. Career
16 Robert Farris 1 K
18 Norman Swindell 1 FB 1963–65
29 James Speight RB 1955–59
36 Roger Thrift QB 1949–50
  • 1 Posthumous honor.

Coaches of note[edit]

Head coaches[edit]

There have been 21 head coaches of the Pirates. Steve Logan is the all-time leader in games coached, years coached, and wins, while John Christenbury leads all coaches in winning percentage with 0.867. O. A. Hankner is statistically the worst coach the Pirates have had in terms of winning percentage, with .000.

Coaching and Football Administration Staff[edit]

Position Name Years at ECU Alma Mater
Head Coach: Scottie Montgomery 1st Duke '00
Defensive Coordinator/
Linebackers Coach:
Kenwick Thompson 1st Harding University '92
Offensive Coordinator
Quarterbacks Coach:
Tony Peterson 1st Marshall '90
Special Teams Coordinator: Shannon Moore 1st Black Hills State '00
Offensive Line Coach: Geep Wade 1st Chattanooga '02
Wide Receivers Coach: Phil McGeoghan 1st Maine '08
Running backs Coach: Antonio King 1st NC Central '05
Secondary Coach: Rick Smith 3rd (8th overall) Florida State '71
Defensive Line Coach Deke Adams 1st Southern Miss '95
Inside Linebackers Coach: Ryan Anderson 1st Presbyterian College '09
Special Teams Assistant: David Mackie 2nd Georgia '05
Assistant AD, Strength and Conditioning: Jeff Connors 4th (14th overall) Salem College '80
Assistant AD, Football Operations: Terrell Smith 1st Duke '04
Director of Player Personnel: Ethan Johnson 1st Liberty '05
Director of Player Development: Brian Overton 2nd Elizabeth City State '04
Assistant Director of Operations/Personnel: Alex Folken 2nd East Carolina '12

Future non-conference opponents[edit]

Announced schedules as of November 11, 2015

2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
at Virginia Tech vs Virginia Tech vs North Carolina vs Virginia Tech vs Marshall at Marshall vs NC State vs Virginia Tech at Virginia Tech vs Virginia Tech
at South Carolina vs BYU at Virginia Tech at NC State at Virginia Tech vs South Carolina at Virginia Tech
vs NC State at West Virginia vs North Carolina A&T vs South Carolina vs West Virginia
vs Western Carolina vs James Madison vs Old Dominion at Old Dominion at South Carolina



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  122. ^ The blue color is used only when East Carolina reaches a bowl but does not hold a share in the conference title. In any case that East Carolina has a share of the conference championship, the red color is used.
  123. ^ Overtime rules in college football were introduced in 1996, making ties impossible.
  124. ^ The AP Poll was introduced in 1934. Thus, there are no polls for previous seasons.
  125. ^ The Coaches Poll was introduced in 1950. Therefore, polls for prior seasons do not exist.
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