ECU picks new football defensive coordinator

Former defensive backs coach Rick Smith was picked to become the Pirates football team's new defensive coordinator, ECU announced Friday.

The 64-year-old Smith had 32 years of collegiate coaching experience and organized defenses at the NCAA's top level for six seasons. He would replace Brian Mitchell, who was let go in early January, after three seasons with the Pirates, head coach Ruffin McNeill said.

Smith had previously served as ECU's defensive backs coach from 2005 to 2009. During that time, the Pirates won two Conference USA titles.

Most recently, Smith served as assistant head coach, with oversight of cornerbacks and safeties, at Big East Conference member South Florida for three seasons, beginning in 2010.

"Before beginning the search process, I established specific criteria for this position. One, experience as a respected defensive coordinator; two, experience as a respected secondary coach; three, experience as an effective recruiter and four, a fit for East Carolina Football and the University," McNeill said. "After conducting a thorough national search and reaching out to my contacts from both the college and professional ranks, it became very clear that Rick represented those values and more.

"When I completed the telephone and in-person discussion phase, he fit those qualities to certainly reaffirm that he was the right choice. We are excited to welcome Rick and Barbara back to the Pirate Nation."

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