DALLAS _ Ruffin McNeill may have been the first person Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers interviewed last month to replace Mike Leach as the Red Raiders' head football coach. But McNeill really was never seriously considered for the job.
All along, Myers said he wanted to hire someone who had the title of "head coach'' somewhere on their resume. Tommy Tuberville did. McNeill didn't.
So Tuberville got the Tech job.
"It came down to a guy like Ruffin that we really liked _ a really popular guy with the fans, the coaches,'' Myers said Thursday. "But in the end the difference was the experience.''
It's almost like McNeill got an interview because of his popularity with the Tech playerrs, fans and assistant coaches. If head coaching experience was the major criteria to succeed Leach, McNeill never really had a legitimate chance to become that successor.
Myers said: "The fact that Tommy had been a head coach, that he'd been highly successful in a very strong football conference, I think that was the difference.''
McNeill had been as assistant coach with Tech for 10 years, including the past two years as the team's defensive coordinator. He now is the head coach at East Carolina.
"I like Ruffin and I'm really pleased that he got that job at East Carolina, and I wish him the best,'' Myers said. "I think he'll do a great job over there.''
-- Dwain Price