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Meet Eastern Carolina, which shouldn’t be this bad

East Carolina v Cincinnati Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

ECU has had a bizarre and chaotic run of things in this century—I say bizarre because really there’s no excuse to ever be as bad—twice!—as the Pirates have managed. ECU is in a crummy conference, sure, but ECU is also in some pretty ideal recruiting territory. You have to work hard at self-sabotage to become as terrible as the Pirates are now.

ECU has made two of the worst coaching hires of any FBS school in this century: the first one was John Thompson, who took over for Steve Logan and promptly threw all progress over a cliff. The latest is Scott Montgomery, who is going to be fired three seconds after the game ends Saturday.

The Pirates impatience with Ruffin McNeill led to Montgomery’s tenure, and if there’s a better be-careful-what-you-wish-for cautionary tale in college football, I can’t think of it. When the Pirates get blown out this weekend, they’ll conclude their third consecutive 3-9 season under Montgomery.

ECU has made good hires this century, too—both McNeill and Skip Holtz showed that it’s not particularly difficult to establish a respectable program at the school, y’know, as long as you aren’t a terrible coach.

But instead the PIrates are on their way to another three-win season. Montgomery is 4-20 in the AAC. It didn’t have to be this way.

ECU is terrible on both sides of the ball, averaging 5.2 yards per play while giving up six. They’ve lost six of their last seven games, with the only reprieve a beat-down of legendarily bad UConn. The Sagarin Ratings put ECU behind 13 FCS teams, including such luminaries as Western Illinois and Colgate. It didn’t have to be this way!

Maybe the next guy will put East Carolina back where it should be, and where it should be is an incorrigible knife in every power-conference school’s schedule. That might take a while, though. The transition from McNeill to Montgomery set that program back at least a half decade, maybe longer.