Scottie Montgomery discusses Hurricane Florence and upcoming USF game

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Third-year ECU Head Football Coach Scottie Montgomery addressed members of the media on Monday via The American’s weekly teleconference call prior to its road game at USF. The following are selected comments:

Opening Statement:

“We’re dealing with a lot of issues with some of our players and their families, as we recruit our area very hard. It’s great to be with each other and have the connectedness to be surrounded by each other and the brotherhood of our teammates. So many people think about just what’s going on with our student-athlete and just what’s going on with school. Our school is not back yet, of course right now. A lot of people only think about that, but we have to realize there is circumstance where family members are connected to it as well. So, we’re trying to help and mentor all of our kids through this difficult situation. But we’re focused. We have a great opponent this week. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

On Process Of Deciding To Relocate:

“We really were trying to hang in there because we thought we were going to play the Virginia Tech game all the way up until Tuesday evening, Tuesday afternoon, somewhere in there. So, we had been preparing on Tuesday, we practiced on Tuesday. Then we got the word that the decision was made, that the game was not going to be played and a couple of other games in our state were not going to be played. At that point in time, we wanted to make sure we gave our kids the best opportunity to be safe. From there, we secured a location, where we could be as close as we could, but out of harm’s way with our guys. We have so many people that it’s hard to find a place for so many people. We had to make a little bit of a longer travel distance than we wanted to. But at the end of the day, it was all about making sure that our kids were safe and that’s what we based it all around. We were gracious enough to have someone give us a secure location here that we could practice and it’s been good. It’s been hard because our kids are up early and they’re in bed early as well because we’re staying on campus where we are at all times, unless we’re chaperoned off with the whole entire group. It’s been a great team-building situation.

“Facetime has been awesome for some of our kids, being able to physically see their parents or kin that are in the area (Eastern North Carolina). We’ve been able to use Facetime except in situations where the power is out. We have some families in hotels or in different locations. It’s been good to be able to take care of our guys like we have.”

On Being In A Situation Like This Before:

“No, not really. We had a situation a couple of years ago where we actually playing USF and we were getting hit by a major storm (Hurricane Matthew) at the time. We couldn’t get back into Greenville so we had that situation occur. The following week, the game was cancelled. So, it was a similar situation, where school and everything was out. It was a little bit of a different situation where we had everyone together coming back. We did have some kids that remained on campus and they had to go home without a chaperone. That was something that kind of stuck in my mind, not knowing what was going on with our kids that were left on campus. We didn’t know the storm was going to hit the way that it did. So, we’ve been through that situation.

“The only other time I can remember a storm like this was way back in 1999. We weren’t a part of it, but we remember it was a huge, huge deal at the time. ECU could not return to Greenville, I think they stayed in South Carolina. I think they had to stay away for a while. So, at the end of the day, I wanted to make sure we took all of the history that we had and the research that we had and make the best of it.”

On Message To Pirate Nation And Eastern Carolina:

“We’re praying for you every day. As a team, we’re praying for you at the beginning of practice and at the end of practice. You guys are heavily on our minds because you are our family, you are our support system. We’re praying for you and we know that there’s situations that will become better and there’s situations that will take a lot of work to get back through. But we’ve been through things like this before. We saw it happen a few years ago. We returned stronger, I know we will return stronger now. We have to endure through times like this. Our team is playing with a lot of confidence right now, we’re practicing with a lot of confidence right now. So, we’re trying to go out and put together a great performance on the field for you guys. We love every part of Eastern North Carolina.”

On Helping Players Reach Out To Their Families:

“We’ve been pretty good so far. It’s just been spotty in certain situations. I’ve talked with our players and our players have asked me to try to be as close to the vest with this kind of stuff because there’s some emotional parts of it. They don’t want other family members that don’t know, to have this stuff come out in a different way. We’re trying to be reserved in some of the things we have. We do feel like that everyone who is connected to our program, even though they may be displaced from their homes, but they are safe at this point in time.”

On Making The Process As Normal As Possible:

“We’ve had a normal week of practice set. We started a normal week at this point of time. This is a Monday for us, which is normally an off day for our kids. Tomorrow, we will go with a normal morning practice and on Wednesday, we’ll go with a normal morning practice. We’ll do everything here like we normally do there (at home). We have a study hall built in since school is out right now. We’ll build it like a normal week. We’ll try to keep it the exact way that we would have it if we were in Greenville.”

On Families Heading To Florida With The Team:

“No, no, no. That’s not what I said. What I said, was ones that may be displaced from their homes, that may be in hotels 30 or 45 miles away. Some evacuated in time, some couldn’t evacuate. Some are in the local area, the Wilmington area in hotels. Hopefully they will be back in their homes soon and if not, that’s something we don’t know all the answers to now.”

On How Facetime Has Helped Ease Players’ Feelings:

“Facetime on the phone. It brings a greater sense of ease, I believe, just giving our guys a certain sense of ease. The overwhelming part of it, was that our parents were so relieved that their kids were in a safe place. That was the biggest feel that we got from our parents, that they were so relieved. Whereas before, they didn’t know what was going on, but this time we did a good job of communicating with our parents and the people connected to our student-athletes, to let them know exactly what was going on.”

On Addressing Virginia Tech’s Tweets With The Team:

“No, I really haven’t. When you’re in a situation like we’re in and people are going through what they’re going through in our part of the state, it’s unfortunate. I haven’t heard or read some of the tweets because I’ve been dealing with our team and some of the things that are directly connected to our program. It’s unfortunate that some of those things happened, I can’t say they were negative or positive or whatever they may be. We were all disappointed that the game did not happen. But our guys are ready to play this week and we’re singularly focused on USF. As soon as that game was cancelled, we had to move our thoughts to USF, a very good football team. So, no we didn’t address that at all because that’s nothing we can control. This is something that’s a lot bigger than just a couple of tweets. Our kids’ families were directly connected to it and our kids were directly connected to it. So that’s something that’s unfortunate that happened, but I don’t have any further comment on that.”

On Confidence Against USF:

“First of all, they’re coming off a Power 5 victory, we’re coming off a Power 5 victory, I think that everyone knows the conversation shouldn’t be Power 5, it is Power 6. I think you look across our league, our conference, our brand and what we’re doing. What Temple was able to do against Maryland and is playing at such a high level. You watch USF go up and beat Illinois, away from everything they’re comfortable with and in a hostile environment and win under some different circumstances. They dominated the game, but found themselves in a close game. At the end of the game, to still be able to come out and be victorious lets you know a lot. USF is a great team, they’ll play a lot better than they played last week. We know that. They had some unfortunate situations happen to them and I think some of our performances have been more proof that we’re definitely Power 6.”

On If Players Will Respond To Adversity:

“We’re playing with a lot of confidence, we’re practicing with a lot of confidence. We’re really excited to be able to play again. These are football players and football players play football. When the lights come on, our guys will be ready to play. We’re itching at the ability to play. It’s a very, very unfortunate situation that we had to wait. But we’ve tried to use it to prepare ourselves even better for the game ahead.”