By Eric D. Graham, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: January 26, 2010
(BASN) — After 28 seasons as an assistant, former East Carolina player and coach Ruffin McNeill finally landed his first full time head coaching job at his alma mater.
McNeill, who was named interim head coach of Texas Tech, led the Red Raiders to an emotional 41-31 win over Michigan State in the Alamo Bowl on January 2nd.
He applied for the head coaching position at Texas Tech in order to replace former coach Mike Leach, who was fired allegedly for mistreating a injured player but lost the job to former Auburn coach Tommy Tumberville.
But eight days later after Skip Holtz left for ECU for South Florida, McNeill was hired by the Pirates and was given a five-year $5 million contact which includes a $100,000 bonus for a Conference USA title and another $500,000 for a Liberty Bowl win.
A head coaching position was long over due for the 51-year-old McNeill, a native of Lumberton, N.C. His resume consists of 10 impressive years at Texas Tech (2000-09), five seasons at Appalachian State, and two years at Clemson (1985-86).
He also had several one year stints at Fresno State (1999),UNLV (1998), ECU (1992), North Alabama (1988), and Austin Peay (1987).
A four-year letter winner at ECU from 1976-80, McNeill was a three-year starter at defensive back and was the team captain for two seasons.
He helped lead the Pirates to the Southern Conference Championship in 1976 and an Independence Bowl berth in 1978 — the school’s first in what is recognized as the modern era.
He graduated from ECU in 1980 and received a master’s degree in counseling from Clemson in 1987.
The upcoming season wont be a easy one for the new Pirate head coach, who will have to replace 28 seniors, which include junior defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who will forego his senior season and enter the 2010 NFL Draft from last year’s 9-3 team.
McNeill will also have to deal with a tough 2010 schedule that includes three ACC match-ups Virginia Tech (Sept. 10), UNC (Oct. 2), and the Wolfpack of N.C. State on November 20th.