Two games will be a small sample size.
East Carolina’s Scottie Montgomery doesn’t need a large one. He’s had two years, things haven’t gone well, and when he leaves the turf of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium next Saturday the first two games of his third season are going to shape the conversation.
And really, there’s only one chance at change. A good number of guessing enthusiasts figure he’s got to win and win a lot this season to get a fourth year. And that would mean he’s in the hole digging out before North Carolina A&T arrives Saturday.
When Carolina leaves next weekend, the Pirates will have been average or worse, or they’ll be 2-0. That’s the only way the conversation changes.
ECU will still be hard-pressed to rise up in the American Athletic Conference’s fifth year. They’re not only picked last in their division, they got the fewest votes of any team.
No matter. Start 0-2 or 1-1 and there will be little the coach can do to change the momentum of public opinion. See Jeff Compher for how that works.
But 2-0, with a win over Carolina? Just scratch out four or five more among the last 10.
A&T rolls in 1-0 after having gone unbeaten last season, choosing to play in the Celebration Bowl and claim the black college football national championship rather than go into the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
The Aggies are good. Real good. They play on a level that limits scholarships to 63. As recently as 2011, they went to Appalachian State with less than 40. Lost 58-6.
This is different. Their entire athletics program celebrated arguably the best year in school history last spring. They win and they’re used to it.
East Carolina gets 85 rides, and has brought in good players under Montgomery’s watch. Now comes the third year, and a chance to see more of them.
Carolina, meanwhile, has a coach on the hot seat, too. For all the talk about the status of Scottie Mo, if Larry Fedora clocks another 3-9 season he’ll be done. The Tar Heels are at Cal on Saturday, then in what the students have come to call G-Vegas.
What a contrast — the places, not the plight of the coaches.
Scottie Mo needs 2-0. Fedora needs 2-0.
Only the first week, and already the end of season implications are glaring like an August sun.
Gonna be another hot one. Can’t hardly wait.
Alan Wooten can be reached at 910-247-9132 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @alanwooten19.