ECU's offense also ranked among the nation's best statistically - finishing eighth in passing offense, 16th in scoring offense, 25th in total offense, fifth in offensive redzone efficiency and sixth in fourth-down conversion percentage.

 

While the Pirates remained among the nation's top 30 in many national offensive categories a year later in 2011, McNeill also orchestrated an impressive defensive turnaround with a newly-installed 3-4 scheme. ECU cut its yards allowed per game total down by 102.5 to improve 64 places on the statistical rankings and finish among the top half of all FBS programs.

 

McNeill narrowly missed guiding East Carolina to a sixth consecutive bowl appearance that season, but rallied the Pirates to a 4-3 finish after a 1-4 start with a young team that featured 25 first-time starters.

 

A four-year letterwinner at ECU from 1976 to 1979, McNeill was a three-year starter at defensive back and was the team captain for two seasons. He helped lead the Pirates to the Southern Conference Championship in 1976 and an Independence Bowl berth in 1978 - the school's first in what is recognized as the modern era.

 

"As a former student-athlete in our football program, he understands the expectations and passion of our fan base," Compher added. "I am extremely happy for Coach McNeill, his family, our assistant coaches, and most of all for our student-athletes. This contract extension is well-deserved and signifies an outstanding commitment to Coach McNeill and his continued leadership of our football program."

 

McNeill, 54, who has played an active role on coaching staffs which have advanced to 15 bowl games since 1985, officially ended a 10-year position on the Texas Tech defensive staff when he moved to Greenville. Included in his 27 overall seasons at the collegiate level is a one-year stint at East Carolina as defensive line coach in 1992.