East Carolina football coach
Ruffin McNeill is not the man he used to be. He continues to
shed pounds following weight loss surgery and a hip replacement.
He's dedicated to his doctor's orders and is following their
directives regarding diet and exercise.
"It's going well," said the
Pirates coach. "I'm walking twice a day. I'm getting physical
therapy two times a week. It went from three to two. I'm trying
to walk about an hour and 20 minutes a day. The diet is what the
diet is. It's going along fine. Everything is right on course."
McNeill said he hasn't looked at
his weight lately but he said he's lighter than what he was at
the spring game and he had lost almost 100 pounds at that point
"I don't even worry about that
(his weight)," he said. "I just go. I'll look at that when I go
back for my check-up. ... I'm enthusiastic about my diet. I'm
enthusiastic about the whole deal. I'm enthusiastic about the
workouts. I'm enthusiastic about it all, A to Z. ... I'm fired
up about all of it.
"Everything is on schedule. I
follow my doctor's orders to the letter. Whatever they tell me
I'm allowed to do, that's what I do."
McNeill said he gets to eat
five meals a day.
"Everything is programmed now,"
he said. "I'm so stubborn and robotic that I think it's a
positive. I'm going to follow whatever those doctors tell me to
do to the letter."
Ruff has to apply discipline
McNeill loves his players but
sometimes it has to be tough love. The Pirates coach suspended
defensive back Emanuel Davis and receiver Michael Bowman for the
season opener against South Carolina on Sept. 3 in Charlotte
after the duo was arrested in June on charges relating to
"From day one, I've stated how
I feel about East Carolina," McNeill said. "It's an honor and a
privilege for everybody in this program to represent East
Carolina. It's not lip service for me. I understand what East
"I love all of our kids but I
love the team and East Carolina more. ... I hold our team to a
high standard. It's not one way for one person and another way
for another person. We're going to gather information whenever
an incident happens. We'll take a decisive, disciplined and
consistent approach and we keep moving on. Those young men have
accepted responsibility. They're in the midst of doing all those
things. I love 'em and I'll welcome them back once everything is
McNeill said Davis and Bowman
are still involved in summer conditioning sessions with strength
coach Jeff Connors.
"Everybody on the team has been
addressed about discipline," McNeill said. "I've addressed
discipline 38 different, formal times from day one since I got
the job. I keep count of it. Everybody understands on this
football team what I stand for and represent. Either I mean it
or I don't. I love all the kids from day one. Everybody had a
clean slate from day one.
"Here's what I said — no ego,
no entitlement, teamwork first. I don't say that for lip
service. ... One reason I've been in this business for 32 years
is that I believe I have the opportunity to make a difference in
a young man's life. I'm responsible for 120 and their families.
One thing I can do is to do my best and raise them as my sons.
That's how I think of these kids. ... I raise 120 sons. I love
all of them individually and as a group. I love the team first
because I believe in teamwork first.
"There are certain things that
are non-negotiable. That's what I mentioned. I'm going to gather
information. I'm going to hear all parties, both sides and I'm
going to sit down and be consistent in my discipline. Everybody
understands where I come from on the football team. ... The
foundation of the football program is one of the most important
things you can build. I want the foundation to be strong. I want
the foundation to be solid. I want the foundation to be real. It
all boils down to the pillars and philosophies of what I want
this program to be about and be known for."
"It's how I was raised and how
I was raised in coaching," added McNeill. "It's nothing personal
with me. It's never personal about this kid or that kid.
Everything to me is no ego, no entitlement, teamwork first and
it's about building a foundation and I love those kids. I saw
them (Davis and Bowman on Wednesday) and gave both of them hugs.
They were both laughing and joking. There's no anger. ... It's
no different than if a guy goes down with an injury. The next
guy has got to be ready to go. ... We can't wait to have Michael
and Emanuel back after they serve their time.
"They understood what I had to
do. Their coaches understood what I had to do. ... I didn't look
at the South Carolina game as a factor. I look at our team
first. ... I don't make an off-the-cuff decision on any kind of
Coaches recharge the
The ECU coaches are in the
midst of a span in which they can spend time with their families
and relax before the demands of preseason practice and the
ensuing 2011 schedule begins.
The Pirate players will get
about a week off after summer conditioning before reporting back
for meetings on August 4. There will be five days of acclimation
in helmets and shorts when practice begins on August 5. There
will be several days of two practices a day. Two weeks before
the season opener will be "mock week," a simulated game week
before the actual game week in preparation for the opener.
"It's just to get them in that
game week mode," McNeill said. "It will be almost a duplication
the next week getting them ready to go to Charlotte and play
South Carolina. ... I'm excited about being around our players
McNeill planned to spend some
time in the interim with his dad, a former coach, in his
hometown of Lumberton.
"That will be like a coaching
clinic for me," McNeill said.
Working on academics
McNeill noted that several
signees are not involved in summer workouts at this point
because they must complete academic obligations.
"Most of our guys are up here
and they're under Coach Connors' watch," McNeill said. "Jeton
Beavers (defensive end, Bayside High, Virginia
Beach) is finishing a high school class up. Hopefully, he'll be
here pretty quickly.
"John Lattimore (defensive end,
Ventura, CA, College) and
JoJo Blanks (linebacker,
ASA College, Brooklyn, NY; Purnell Swett High School, Pembroke,
NC) are still finishing some classes to get eligible.
"The expectation is that they
will be here. It's about like we had to do with (receiver) Lance
Lewis last year. They've got some work to do on their own. We
stay in touch with them and make sure they're staying on course.
They have to come through on their own — finishing the
assignments and finishing the classes also.
"We're looking forward to
having both those young men as a part of the team. They're both
really good football players and they would add to our defensive