GREENVILLE, N.C. – Kirk Doll, an ECU letterman and former assistant coach who played an integral role leading the Pirates to three bowl appearances in a four-year span, will rejoin the program as special teams coordinator according to an announcement from head football coach Scottie Montgomery on Friday.
Doll will officially begin his duties Jan. 9, which marks the date when FBS institutions are allowed to add a 10th on-field assistant coach following the NCAA Division I council’s approval of the proposal last spring.
“It has become clear to me that surrounding yourself with quality people who offer a tremendous amount of experience like Kirk is a critical component of success,” Montgomery said. “Fortunately, we were provided an opportunity to exclusively dedicate a position to oversee our special teams unit and are absolutely thrilled to welcome back a Pirate with incomparable expertise at all levels in this area.
“This hire will also allow Shannon (Moore) the benefit of solely devoting his coaching efforts to enhance the production of our tight ends, while also providing a new leadership role as our recruiting coordinator.”
Prior to serving as special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach at Florida International during the 2016 season, Doll directed ECU’s special teams unit and coached running backs from 2012 to 2015 – a timeframe in which the Pirates advanced to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, captured the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl and competed in a record-setting Birmingham Bowl.
Doll’s four campaigns in Greenville were notable in both his areas of responsibility as he completed an overhaul of the Pirates’ special teams units that produced upper tier national statistical rankings despite working with a first-year punter (twice), placekicker and deep snapper, while also directing ECU’s first 2,000-yard rushing season since 2009.
After ranking last (120th) nationally in net punting in 2011 before his arrival, Doll’s reconstruction paid immediate dividends with a No. 55 standing in 2012. A year later, ECU stood seventh in the country with a kickoff return average of 25.1 yards per game and ranked among the FBS’s Top 50 in three other special teams categories – punt returns (39th), field goals made per game (39th) and punt return defense (50th). In 2015, the Pirates’ punt coverage squad was 10th nationally after surrendering just 3.3 yards per return.
Solely from a punting standpoint, Doll’s units averaged over 41.0 yards per boot in four consecutive seasons for the first time in school history. He coached first-year punter Worth Gregory to a No. 23 national rank with a 43.6 average in 2014 before the transfer followed with a school single-season record by placing 32 punts inside the 20-yard line in 2015.
Offensively, Doll tutored back-to-back 1,000-rushing performances by Vintavious Cooper in 2012 and 2013, which marked the first consecutive 1K seasons by a Pirate running back since 1993 and 1994.
Doll has spent 38 years coaching at college football’s highest level with eight programs and in the professional ranks with two organizations. He has coached on teams that played in 17 bowl games and a pair of American Football Conference (AFC) playoff contests.
His lengthy and accomplished coaching career was deservedly recognized by his hometown in the spring of 2015 when he was inducted into the Wichita (Kan.) Sports Hall of Fame & Museum.
Before initially returning to his alma mater in 2012, Doll spent the previous season as San Jose State’s special teams coordinator and running backs coach. The Spartans’ kicking game thrived under his guidance as kicker Jens Alvernik finished second nationally in field goals per game and punter Harrison Waid ranked 26th in the FBS with a 42.79 average.
His decorated coaching career began at Wichita State in 1975 as a graduate assistant and continued with full-time appointments as offensive line coach at Tulsa (1980-84), outside linebackers coach at Arizona State (1985-87) and linebackers coach at Texas A&M (1988-93) before handling various responsibilities, including assistant head coach duties, at Notre Dame from 1994 to 2001.
He helped Louisiana State to a two-year mark of 21-6 as assistant head coach and linebackers coach in 2002 and 2003. The 2003 Tigers, which were guided by head coach Nick Saban and coordinators Jimbo Fisher and Will Muschamp, rolled to a 13-1 record and the BCS championship after a 21-14 victory over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
Doll’s reputation as a special teams mentor was validated in the National Football League when he served Denver in that capacity from 2004 until 2006. In each of his three seasons in the Mile High City, the Broncos had a winning record and advanced to the 2005 AFC championship game.
He returned to Texas A&M for two more seasons (2008-09) as tight ends coach/special teams coach and had a one-year stint as special teams coach for the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League in 2010 before joining the San Jose State staff. In all, a total of 18 of his collegiate players have gone on to enjoy NFL careers.
Doll lettered as a defensive end at ECU in 1971 and 1972, and helped Sonny Randle’s Pirates to a Southern Conference title as a senior. He earned a bachelor’s degree from ECU in 1973 before adding a second undergraduate degree from Wichita State in 1977.
He and his wife, Kathy, are the parents of three grown children - Kate, Kelsey and Kyle.