Former Texas Tech defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill became the first black head football coach at East Carolina on Thursday, and one of his former Texas Tech co-workers, Lincoln Riley, will be his offensive coordinator.
McNeill, 51, returns to his alma mater after spending the past 10 years at Tech, including the past two as defensive coordinator, under coach Mike Leach, who was fired Dec. 30.
ECU athletic director Terry Holland said McNeill was a hit during his interview Thursday morning. McNeill graduated from ECU in 1980 and played safety for the Pirates in 1976-80.
"Coach McNeill’s interview revealed his strong commitment to doing things the right way and his love of coaching young men to grow in every part of their lives," Holland said in a statement.
Tech promoted McNeill to interim coach Dec. 28 after it suspended — and later fired — Leach after allegations that he mistreated backup receiver Adam James. With six days to prepare, McNeill guided Tech to a 41-31 win over Michigan State in the Alamo Bowl.
McNeill was interviewed for the Tech job that eventually went to Tommy Tuberville.
"As a head coach he took one of the most adverse situations in college football and wound up winning a bowl game," Riley said. "He’s a great man and you can’t find anybody to say a bad thing about him."
McNeill replaces Skip Holtz, who left ECU last week after five seasons to become head coach at South Florida.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760