Examining ECU's head coach possibilities

Below we examine some of the names that have popped up in ECU's head coaching vacancy. We make the case for and against every candidate. These are simply names that seem to make sense, not speculation.

Lincoln Riley

THE CASE FOR

This one definitely seems pretty obvious. Lincoln Riley spent five years as Ruffin McNeill’s coordinator and was the brainchild behind the most impressive offense that ECU has ever seen. He also has recruiting ties to the area, having spent so much time in Greenville. Not only that, but Riley has a rapport with the former coaching staff and would likely retain a majority of it, keeping continuity in the program and possibly limiting the amount of drop off that is inevitable with a coaching change.

THE CASE AGAINST

Riley’s close relationship with McNeill stems from the former coach giving him his first coordinator position at just 27 years old. That’s likely exactly what will keep the current Oklahoma offensive coordinator from coming back to Greenville, where Athletic Director Jeff Compher put the axe on his former mentor seemingly out of the blue.

Riley also is being tabbed as one of the best young, bright offensive minds in the game and even interviewed for the South Carolina job. He has Oklahoma in the playoffs and his quarterback Baker Mayfield is a Heisman contender. Teams, even in the Power Five are looking long and hard at Riley and the money that he seems destined to make far outweighs the money that ECU can offer.

Mike Leach

THE CASE FOR

Similarly to Riley, Washington State head coach Mike Leach is a firm believer in the air-raid attack. Leach would keep continuity in terms of offensive identity and wouldn’t force much of a transition in terms of personnel. He has also had success at smaller schools in a big conference. His 2008 Texas Tech squad was in the hunt for the national title and he never had a losing season as the Raid Raiders coach. At Washington State he is currently turning about a dismal program and has his Cougars bowl bound with and eight-win season.

THE CASE AGAINST

Leach to ECU doesn’t really make much sense. He has three years left on his WSU contract, but what’s more is his polarizing image, including multiple accusations of mistreating players. Leach has never pretended to be a nice guy and plays the part well, but Compher needs to consider that he has a handful of angry star players that aren’t pleased with McNeill’s dismissal. The new coach will have to win the players over fast if he wants to have success. Leach isn’t a player’s coach and he lets his winning do the talking. He really would be the anti-Ruff in a lot of ways.

Rod Carey

THE CASE FOR

The Northern Illinois connection is the most obvious thing that points Huskies coach Rod Carey to ECU. Compher promoted Carey to head coach after Dave Doeren dumbed NIU for N.C. State in 2013. Since then, the 44-year old Carey has led the Huskies to 12, 11 and eight-win seasons. He has also raddled off three-straight first place finishes in the MAC, a feat that Pirate fans would surely like to see pulled off at ECU.

Would Carey rejoin Compher in Greenville and try to recreate the magic that he has brought to the Huskies? Consider this, Compher said in his press conference that the team was going to be competitive in terms of what kind of money might be offered. Carey currently makes $425,000 at NIU and a hefty raise from Compher and company could be enough to convince him to relocate.

THE CASE AGAINST

Despite his success in the win-loss column, Carey has seen his team’s record get worse in the three seasons that he’s been at the helm. NIU fans have clamored about his ability to manage the clock and personnel and seem to be under the impression that he inherited a team with loaded talent thanks to Doeren. This could be true, especially if you take into account his team’s bowl success, or lack thereof.

NIU has made it to three bowl games under Carey and the Huskies have faltered every year. Will his conference success be enough to convince Compher that he can succeed at ECU?

Joe Moglia

THE CASE FOR

Coastal Carolina head coach Joe Moglia is the real dark horse of the whole crop. His name has been thrown around for multiple FBS openings and his ties to the Carolinas make him a viable candidate. He has also finished top-two in the Big South every year since taking over the team in 2012, while accumulating a 41-13 record over that time. Moglia even said that he would welcome a change of scenery and is keeping his options open. What’s perhaps even more interesting about Moglia is his business background. He is the current CEO and Chairman of TD Ameritrade and his financial success has allowed him to spurn money at the coaching level, opening funds up for better paid assistants. Take into account that he was a voluntary coach for Nebraska from 2009-2010. Moglia would perhaps look past the money at ECU, and maybe be a key player in the building of much-needed, new facilities.

THE CASE AGAINST

Moglia has never been a head coach on the FBS level, and outside of his two years at Nebraska, he hasn’t coached at all in college football’s best league. Age is another factor that could turn Compher off about Moglia. The 66-year old coach certainly isn’t getting any younger and with all the good, young coaches in the AAC, the Pirates can’t afford to take steps back. He’s definitely a risky hire, simply in terms of his lack of experience and his age.

Matt Canada

THE CASE FOR

Should Compher decide to look in-state for his next football coach, Raleigh holds a pretty bright candidate that has ties the current ECU AD. N.C. State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Matt Canada has ties to Compher from his days at NIU and he has continued to be successful since joining Doeren’s Wolfpack staff. Canada has transformed the N.C. State offense and has groomed quarterback Jacoby Brissett into one of the ACC’s top passers. Brissett threw 19 touchdowns to just four interceptions while also adding five more scores on the ground. Perhaps in direct correlation, Canada has been tabbed as a quarterback guru and given the loaded crop of signal callers that the Pirates will boast next season, bringing in a coach with quarterback experience might not be a bad idea.

THE CASE AGAINST

At age 43 Canada boasts no collegiate head coach experience, despite his well-traveled nature. His tenures at NIU, Indiana and Wisconsin have allowed him to work with some of the game’s best, but no head coaching jobs have tabbed Canada as their successor. He did interview for the Tennessee offensive coordinator position in 2014 but the Wolfpack countered with a new three-year contract worth $500,000 annually. The Pirates would have to open up the pocket book to lure Canada away from its in-state rival, something that Compher has said he isn’t against.

Shane Beamer

THE CASE FOR

The son of a coaching legend, Shane Beamer would bring a name that carries a lot of weight to Greenville. But would Compher take a chance on the 38-year old running backs coach from Virginia Tech? Consider that Beamer played an integral role as the team’s associate head coach and has been assisting on the FBS stage since 2000. Sure, his name alone has probably opened a lot of doors throughout the years, but Beamer has had success in all of his stops. Perhaps his most impressive feat was his turning around of the Hokies rushing attack during his first season as running backs coach. He played a major role in tutoring David Wilson, who went on to break the school’s single-season rushing record. ECU fans may welcome a more balanced approach to their offense, as well.

THE CASE AGAINST

Beamer would be a huge risk simply because of his lack of true head coaching experience. The Pirates obviously can’t afford to miss on this hire, and Beamer is a relative unknown in a lot of ways.  But would Beamer even consider the move to Greenville? Afterall, McNeill and Frank Beamer are good friends and I’m sure there could be some animosity brewing about the way that McNeill was let go. This hire perhaps doesn’t make much sense for either party, but if there is legitimate interest here, Compher could hand the reigns over to the son of a legend.

Gene Chizik

THE CASE FOR

This one popped seemingly out of nowhere. Rumblings about North Carolina defensive coordinator Gene Chizik interviewing for the job came to light Monday morning. Chizik, of course, has led an impressive overhaul of UNC’s defense and was a key component in the team’s appearance in the ACC Championship game. Chizik also has a national championship and perfect record during the 2010 season during his time spent at Auburn. He also has been tabbed as a premier recruiter in college football and has a truly national footprint. He would certainly be a big-name splash that the Pirates could make to prove how serious they are about their football program.

THE CASE AGAINST

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His 14-0 season at Auburn still doesn’t quite mask his 38-38 record as a head coach. During his two seasons at Iowa State, Chizik amassed a 5-19 record and he fell off at Auburn, finishing 3-9 before getting canned in 2012. His defensive prowess has no doubt been his strength and he has shown strong leadership ability but the results on the field paint a very different picture of the Chizik. Once again, ECU can’t afford to miss on this hire and while Chizik is very highly thought of in the coaching circles, he still stands as a risky hire.


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