By Nathan Summers
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Ruffin McNeill can’t help but laugh when he admits that he and his wife watched “The Real World” on MTV last Saturday night.
It was most certainly the first time the East Carolina head football coach had witnessed the pioneer program in reality television. When asked what he thought of it, McNeill was temporarily speechless.
It wasn’t just offseason Saturday boredom that steered the coach and his wife to the long-running reality show, which plants seven strangers in a house in an unfamiliar locale. One of the strangers on the show’s 28th installment, set in Portland, Ore., is no stranger to the McNeills.
The affable Marlon Williams on the Portland season — which will air its finale tonight — was once one of McNeill’s principal warriors when the two were at Texas Tech together. Williams was a three-year starting linebacker for the Red Raiders from 2007-09, and McNeill was his coordinator and assistant head coach.
“We watched it for the first time when I saw an episode was coming up — I don’t think there were any basketball games on at that time — and that was the first ‘Real World’ that I’ve watched,” McNeill said, noting that ECU offensive line coach and former TTU center Brandon Jones had tipped McNeill off about Williams appearing on the show.
Despite not knowing how to sum up the out-loud lives of the seven roommates on the show, McNeill remembers vividly Williams the football player, who among other honors at TTU recorded a key sack on Texas quarterback Colt McCoy in a Raiders’ upset win in ’08.
“It was good seeing Marlon. He was a really good football player,” McNeill said of Williams, who under McNeill’s guidance made 231 career tackles to go along with 5.5 sacks. “He was a Big 12 linebacker, and one of the best linebackers I had while I was there. He was an every-down player. If we had to have a play at the end of the game, he was on the field as much as I possibly could use him.”
McNeill said Williams was a diligent worker away from the field and a great student, never missing assignments or team activities.
In one of the more tumultuous seasons of “The Real World” to date, Williams is a peacemaker, and his former coach is not surprised.
“To see him on ‘The Real World’ was different,” McNeill said. “That’s a crazy group, and he’s the most grounded. I think it goes back to his dad. Having Marlon at a young age, he was around that whole time. I saw Marlon come in and graduate and he came from a very competitive football area (Plugerville, Texas).”
The praise is mutual.
Williams told TTU newspaper The Toreador that his college football experience was “one of the best times of my life.
“Being around (then-head coach) Mike Leach because he’s such a character, being around Ruffin McNeill because he’s, like, one of those real for-the-players kind of guys, it was great,” Williams told The Toreador.
Contact Nathan Summers at email@example.com or 252-329-9595.
via The Daily Reflector.