East Carolina football coach
Ruffin McNeill hopes to do some putting today as he hosts his
second annual Mac Attack Golf Tournament to raise funds for the
Ronald McDonald House in Greenville.
McNeill is progressing from a pair
of surgeries and has returned to a full time schedule at the
football office. He had weight loss surgery in January and a hip
replacement in April.
"Everything is on schedule,"
McNeill said. "It will be five weeks out from the hip
replacement surgery (today). I'm in a rehab/recovery stage. The
therapy is going fantastic. Kevin Young is the therapist. That
part is going great. Dr. (Chris) Hasty) did a great job. I need
to mention Mike Weaver because his company is part of the
surgery as well. Everything went well during surgery. The
toughest thing is monitoring two major surgeries in three
months. I'm monitoring both of them at the same time."
Older Pirate fans remember Mike
"Mike was great," McNeill said.
"He was in the surgery room with Dr. Hasty. He provides the hip
part. Dr. Hasty had a very, very important job and Mike did,
too, of getting the right part for my body. It went great.
That's the same Mike Weaver who won the conference championship
for us (Southern Conference, 1976). From Williamston, he ran the
option for us under coach Pat Dye.
"Dr. Hasty is also the team
orthopedic surgeon as well."
The surgeries were scheduled
with an eye toward having the Pirates coach ready for his
primary business, getting the team ready to play the upcoming
2011 season and then going through another challenging span of
supervising ECU's efforts on the gridiron.
Doing the weight loss surgery
initially was designed to take some stress off the troublesome
hip that forced Ruff to limp painfully at the conclusion of the
2010 campaign. He had dropped almost 100 pounds before the
spring game in mid-April, which preceded the hip replacement by
about two weeks.
"It gets a little bit tricky
some days," McNeill admitted in regard to his physical
One encouraging thought is that
although he has been through a difficult period, the procedures
should pay off when his weight reaches the desired level, the
rehab is completed on the new hip and he is able to improve his
Contemplating the trickle-down
effect when the head man is less than 100 percent physically is
not a positive thought for the Pirate Nation. When the man at
the top feels good, it can improve the outlook and function of
the entire program.
Hence, the offseason repair
work and the accompanying sacrifices.
"I'm taking care of myself and
taking it one day at a time, still," McNeill said. " ... There's
no pain in that area like there was before. Now, it's just a
matter of getting that strength back in the surgical area — just
rehabbing that area. There's no pain from the incision or from
the area that I had it before the surgery. It's just a matter of
strengthening the muscles and increasing the endurance in that
area that I had surgery — in that hip."
McNeill helps McDonald House
Giving back to the community is
a priority for the ECU coach.
"It's important for our
football program," McNeill said. "We raise money for the Ronald
McDonald House right here in town. It's a great cause. I have a
personal tie with it in my life so I've made it one of our
The Ronald McDonald House on
Moye Boulevard provides temporary housing for families of
seriously ill or injured children receiving treatment from
medical facilities in the area.
McNeill had a luncheon with
sponsors on Wednesday and a dinner Thursday night with many
members of the teams which will be participating.
There will be morning and
afternoon flights today at Brook Valley Country Club in
McNeill has a personal link to
the various causes he supports — the March of Dimes, Special
Olympics and the Boys and Girls Clubs.
He had a niece, Hope, who
needed significant medical attention early in her life almost
two decades ago. McNeill's wife and his wife's sister, the
little girl's mother, were able to stay at a Ronald McDonald
"I saw how giving and willing
they were to help our family," McNeill said. "It made a big
impact on me. We've always had a tie-in, even before here at
East Carolina. As a coordinator, I called it a MacSack Attack.
For every sack we used to get, you could donate money and pledge
for every sack we got. Now that I've become a head coach, we
just changed the name to the Mac Attack."
Ruff's role will be limited in
terms of actual competition on the course today.
"I might be able to do some
putting," he said. "Next year, I'll be able to play in the
Pirate Club Tournament and this tournament. I'll be a part of
every group (today) and maybe putt. I'll just go around and make
sure everybody is having a great time in both flights.
"My whole goal is to get back
where I can push Leander (Green, ECU quarterback in the late
1970s) a little bit in golf. All those guys are good — Mike
Weaver, Jimbo Walker. All those guys play golf all the time.
Those guys are really good golfers. I'm anxious to get back and
get a chance to compete with those guys and compete in the
Connors a comfort
While Ruff is looking forward
to regaining his swing, there is always something to do in the
football office. Some aspect of recruiting and program
development is taking place year-round. McNeill is comfortable
with Jeff Connors back in charge of the strength and
conditioning regimen, which has become a vital dimension of
success in today's college game.
"Having Jeff back takes a load
off of you," McNeill said. "As a head coach you know they're are
getting pushed to the limit each day. He's got a game plan for
the team. He's really doing a great job. I'm sure the players
are buying in to what Coach Connors wants to do in the
offseason. That's truly a blessing there.
"We have some
highly-competitive goals and some things we look forward to. We
have the first game in Charlotte (vs. South Carolina, Sept. 3),
which I know we'll have Pirate fans there, just like at the bowl
game and just like before out in Charlotte. It's going to be
great to see that Carolina Panthers stadium filled with purple
"I know those guys have that in
their minds just like the home games and the (Conference USA)
schedule that we have before us.
"The first game where all our
attention goes is the first game on the schedule. We're looking
forward to it and we know we're playing a great team in South
Carolina. What a great venue to play in. I'm really looking
forward to seeing that stadium filled with purple and gold."