East Carolina picks Duke OC Montgomery as head coach

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — East Carolina hired Duke offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery as its head coach, athletic director Jeff Compher announced Sunday night.

Montgomery will be formally introduced Monday and will start his new job Jan. 1. Contract details were not immediately available.

In searching for a replacement for the fired Ruffin McNeill, Compher said he wanted "a fierce competitor who will lead our football program to championships, while equally demanding academic success.

"As we worked through the entire search process, it became overwhelmingly clear that Scottie Montgomery possesses every attribute necessary to put our football program in a position to win championships and graduate our student-athletes," Compher said.

This is the first head coaching position for the 37-year-old Montgomery, who has served two stints at Duke with a three-year run on the Pittsburgh Steelers' staff in between.

He returned to his alma mater in 2013 and has spent the last two seasons in charge of Duke's offense, which ranked third in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2015 with 431 yards per game.

His hiring caps a 10-day search for McNeill's successor. The former East Carolina player was fired six days after the Pirates completed a 5-7 finish to their second season in the American Athletic Conference.

Montgomery — an all-ACC receiver with the Blue Devils who led the team in receiving every year from 1997-99 — returned to Duke as a coach in 2006 and was the only one of Ted Roof's assistants retained by David Cutcliffe when he took over following the 2007 season.

He coached the receivers on Mike Tomlin's staff with the Steelers from 2010-12, then came back to his alma mater in 2013 to coach the same position group. He took over as offensive coordinator in 2014 after Kurt Roper left for Florida.

Duke averaged 32 points in Montgomery's first season as a coordinator and 30.5 points this season, while the Blue Devils (7-5) earned their fourth straight bowl berth. They will play Indiana in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 26.

Also Duke's quarterbacks coach, he takes over for McNeill — who was fired last week because of what Compher at the time said was a failure to meet competitive expectations.

The Pirates finished under .500 for the first time since 2011 and landed in fifth place in the American's East Division with a 3-5 league record after losing starting quarterback Kurt Benkert to a season-ending knee injury during preseason practice.

McNeill, who played for East Carolina under Pat Dye in the late 1970s, was 42-34 with one bowl victory with the Pirates. He took them to three straight bowls from 2012-14 but never reached a championship game in either Conference USA or the American.

East Carolina went 10-3 in 2013, then spent five weeks in the Top 25 in 2014 behind the combination of quarterback Shane Carden, receiver Justin Hardy and offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley.

Carden set the school's career passing yardage record and Hardy became the NCAA's record-holder for receptions. But none of them were around in 2015 after Carden and Hardy exhausted their eligibility and Riley took the same job at Oklahoma.

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