Last Friday, East Carolina athletic director Jeff Compher announced the decision to fire head football coach Ruffin McNeill after six seasons in Greenville. Pirates fans did not like that move, apparently.
According to Zach Barnett of FootballScoop.com, nearly 6,000 ECU fans — a number that continues to increase — have signed a petition in hopes of bringing McNeill back as the program’s head coach. It also includes the firing of Compher.
The header on the Change.org petition reads:
“Yesterday, our football coach, Ruffin McNeill, was fired without warning or proper reasoning. Players were informed via text and Twitter that their coach had been fired. Ruff has brought the pride of the Pirates back to the university and has been building a strong team. This year was a big rebuilding year so it was tough.
“But, this is more than about our football team. Coach Ruff brought the fans together with the team. We all felt a personal connection that we never had felt before with the football program. And, to top it all off, we fired an ECU Alumni from his own alma mater.
“Compher, the AD, seems to have no response that warrants this firing and even major sports networks are asking what the heck Compher was thinking. So is the entire Pirate community.
“Bring Ruff back. #FireCompher for no transparency and backbone to do this the right way. One man made a decision for an entire university and it should NOT be that way.
“Please sign this petition. As Ruff says, ‘It’s Pirates helping Pirates.’ It’s pride. It’s tradition. It’s passion. It’s a group facing adversity, looking it square in the eye, hitting it right in the jaw and saying, ‘Bring it on. Want some and get some.’ That’s East Carolina to me. That’s what it’s about.
“No matter what, we love Ruff. Bring him back.”
McNeill was 42-34 in six seasons with ECU, leading the team to four bowl games, a share of the Conference USA East Division championship in 2012, a 10-win season in 2013 and eight wins in the program’s first season as a member of the American in 2014.
East Carolina slipped to 5-7 this season, though four of those seven defeats came by seven points or less and starting quarterback Kurt Benkert was lost for the year in August.