Long-time East Carolina assistant football coach Rick Smith announced his retirement on Thursday. The 69-year-old spent two tenures with the Pirates under three different coaches, serving as the team’s defensive backs coach in the recently completed 2016 season. Smith was the only holdover from the staff of former coach Ruffin McNeill. He first came to ECU in 2005 under Skip Holtz and worked with the Pirates’ secondary during their back-to-back Conference USA championships in 2008-09. After leaving for South Florida, Smith returned to Greenville in 2013 as McNeill’s defensive coordinator. During his 36-season college career, Smith worked with defensive backs that piled up 10 all-conference selections and a combined 132 interceptions. In addition to serving tenures with Louisiana Tech, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Baylor and Alabama, he also coached in NFL Europe — where he won a league championship with the Frankfurt Galaxy in 2004. “There’s always a beginning and there’s always an end,” Smith said in a statement. “After a 45-year career, I’ve decided to take (wife) Barbara’s subtle suggestion that it is ‘time to come live in her world.’ My family and faith has guided me through many journeys and the time has come for me to be there for them as we start a new one.” Current ECU coach Scottie Montgomery has not yet named a replacement for Smith on his staff.
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