ECU has made it official--Rick Smith will be the Pirates next defensive coordinator.
Head Football Coach Ruffin McNeill made the announcement Friday morning.
Smith, who has 32 years of collegiate coaching experience, was assistant head coach at South Florida for the past three seasons.
Smith was at ECU from 2005-2009 under Skip Holtz as the team's defensive backs coach.
McNeill said he conducted a national search for a new defensive coordinator. "When I completed the telephone and in-person discussion phase, he fit those qualities to certainly reaffirm that he was the right choice," said McNeill. "We are excited to welcome Rick and Barbara back to the Pirate Nation."
A source very close to East Carolina University has told WITN that head football coach Ruffin McNeill has hired former ECU defensive backs coach Rick Smith as the teams new defensive coordinator.
Smith was at ECU from 2005-2009 under Skip Holtz as the teams defensive backs coach. He then followed Holtz to South Florida.
Rick Smith Bio
Rick Smith, one of the most highly-respected and experienced defensive minds in college football, was named assistant head coach/defensive backs coach at the University of South Florida in January 2010 after five seasons working with the defensive backs at East Carolina. Smith has six years of experience as a defensive coordinator at the NCAA Division I-A level and 32 years as a collegiate coach, all coming on the defensive side of the ball.
In his first season in Tampa in 2010, Smith helped the defensive unit rank 17th nationally in total defense (317.9 ypg), 22nd in scoring defense (20.0 ppg), 24th in pass defense (192.3 ypg) and 34th in pass efficiency defense (118.2 rating). Smith's unit held 9-of-13 opponents under 200 yards passing and the units 15 INTs are tied for third on USF's single-season list. In addition, Smith helped tutor senior Mistral Raymond, who was named second-team All-BIG EAST and was selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings.
In 2011, Smith mentored a group that helped USF finish 37th nationally in scoring defense (22.7 ppg), 39th in total defense (351.3 ypg) and 41st in pass efficiency defense (123.5 rating). Under his guidance, both Jerrell Young and Kayvon Webster earned second-team All-BIG EAST honors.
While at ECU, Smith quickly revamped the Pirate defensive backfield, molding a unit that finished the ‘05 campaign ranked among the nation's top 20 in pass defense, allowing a paltry 184.9 yards per game. His schematic preparation also allowed for 15 interceptions during the year before topping that mark in 2006, 2007 and 2008 with 16, 17 and 22, respectively - figures which ranked 21st, 25th and fifth nationally.
In 2008, for the third season (2005, 2006, 2008) in four years, the Pirates held two teams under the century mark in pass defense - which included a 72-yard effort against West Virginia All-America quarterback Pat White during East Carolina's 24-3 triumph in 2008 that vaulted the Pirates into the Top 25.
All four of Smith's starters in the secondary earned All-Conference USA honors in 2006 and the unit set new school single-game and single-season records for most touchdowns scored on interception returns.
After losing three of four starters in his backfield, Smith simply reloaded in 2007 with new talent at one cornerback position and both safety slots. In addition to the noteworthy interception total, Smith also directed the efforts of two all-conference selections in first-year safety and top team tackler Van Eskridge (104) along with veteran cornerback Travis Williams. Another corner, freshman Travis Simmons, was chosen to the league's all-rookie team after booking 27 stops and picking off a pass.
In 2008, he followed with another first-team selection in Eskridge and developed cornerback Emanual Davis into a five-time all-freshman honoree, one of which was an All-America designation from Rivals.com. Of the 22 interceptions, which were the most for a Pirate squad since 1994, five came against Tulsa in the C-USA Championship Game victory against the nation's top-ranked offense. Simmons, one of Smith's starters at cornerback, earned MVP honors after returning one of the picks 72 yards for a touchdown.
In all, Smith's secondary helped East Carolina to a No. 2 pass defense rank in the explosive and offensive-heavy C-USA statistical standings with a 197.2 ypg mark. Nationally, the Pirates finished among the nation's top 50 units in pass defense and were included in the top 40 in pass efficiency defense.
Prior to arriving at East Carolina, Smith served a one-year stint as a defensive backs coach for Berlin in NFL Europe, where he helped lead the Thunder to a 9-1 record and a 30-24 World Bowl victory over the Frankfurt Galaxy in June, 2004. Smith also played a key role in Berlin's league-high 15 interceptions, three of which came during its championship game win.
Prior to his position in professional football, Smith spent two seasons as co-defensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech in 2002 and 2003 after handling recruiting coordinator, assistant head coach and secondary duties at Southeastern Conference member Kentucky during the previous two seasons.
While Cincinnati's defensive coordinator, Smith's unit stood fourth nationally in turnovers gained (34) in 2000 to help the Bearcats to a 7-5 record and an appearance in the Motor City Bowl. Before his two-year tenure at UC, he headed the Tulane defense where he played a pivotal role in the Green Wave's No. 7 national rank and undefeated (12-0) campaign in 1998, which was capped by a win over BYU in the Liberty Bowl. In 1997, he helped Tulane to a 7-4 mark, while topping the nation in interceptions with 26.
Smith enjoyed an earlier seven-year tenure at Kentucky, serving as the Wildcats' secondary coach before being promoted to the coordinator position in 1996. He was part of a UK program which earned a Peach Bowl matchup against Clemson in 1993.
From 1987 to 1989, he worked under legendary College Football Hall of Fame inductee Grant Teaff at Baylor. His appointment as the Bears' secondary coach followed a one-year stay on Ray Perkins' staff at Alabama where he helped guide the Crimson Tide to a 28-6 win over Washington in the 1986 Sun Bowl while working in a similar capacity.
While serving as a linebackers (1982), secondary and punters coach (1983-85) during his second stint at Georgia Tech, Smith helped the Yellow Jackets to an All-American Bowl win over Michigan State in 1985. He also spent time on the East Tennessee State staff after beginning his collegiate coaching career at Georgia Tech in 1977 as its head freshmen coach.
Smith also directed the rebuilding efforts at two high school programs as head coach, taking the Marianna (Fla.) fortunes from a 1-9 campaign in 1979 to a 7-3 mark in 1981 before leading Wakulla (Fla.) to an 8-2 record in 1975.
Smith, who earned a bachelor's degree in physical education from Florida State in 1971, is married to the former Barbara Reddick and they are the parents of three children - Beth, Steve and Billy.