Sunday, October 14, 2007

Enough is enough, are we asking the RIGHT question about Tiger football?

Tommy West is a wonderful human being who, if I had a son, would not blink about entrusting to him to play D-1A football. That's what makes what I am about to say all the more painful.

Unless we see a team that performs better than it did Saturday night, I am suggesting that we remove him as head football coach at the end of the season. Look, the Tigers are 0-2 against teams from the SUN BELT CONFERENCE, much less from our own Conference USA. Even with the greatest players ever to wear Tiger Blue, Danny Wimprine, Mo Avery, and the legendary DeAngelo Williams, the Tigers STILL never even won their Division of CUSA, much less the whole league.

I ask you this: Even if we could pick up BrightHouse Networks Field or Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and plop it down just south of the McWherter Library lawn, would that make us win Conference USA? We have relatively new weight rooms, a rebuilt indoor practice facility, and a repeatedly renovated stadium.

Anyone ever ask Jeff Bower about facilities? Jeff is only the most successful football coach in the history of C-USA at his alma mater, USM. Ever been to Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg? I haven't but I know plenty who have, and they tell me it's the biggest shithole in the league. Yet, that hasn't stopped him from taking the leftovers of Ole Miss, MSU, Alabama, Auburn and LSU and turning them into great football players and an even better team. USM has the worst facilities in the league, and USM is always at or near the top of CUSA football.

If we can't even compete in the league we're in, with superior facilities, what difference is an OCS going to make? Hell, shouldn't we be asking whether we should continue in the football business? Seriously, if we couldn't even win the damn division with DeAngelo, how the hell can we compete without him, if we can't recruit players of that caliber?

I am not sure that anyone who succeeds Tommy would do better, because we are NOT going to get the top talent around here, when kids would rather sit on the bench at an SEC school that play at Memphis. Since, football-wise, we have turned into a coaching graveyard, why would anyone with hopes of creating a career come and take this job?

Listen, I would love nothing more than the Tigers go on a 6-game winning streak and make me eat a heapin' helpin' of crow (braised, please), but I'm not holding my breath. We need to seriously think about this program, and whether we want to continue, rather than build a stadium that we do not need.

I look for Jon to come behind me and post that I'm full of shit, but he's going to have to do a REAL good job to convince me that I'm wrong. Hell, YOU comment and try to convince me that I'm wrong; I could use it.


Julie said...

The problem is that the U of M won't put the money into the football program that's needed to succeed...that includes coaching salaries as well as facilities.

After the DeAngelo years, we're just now paying our football coach what's considered "decent" money in college football. You get what you pay for. I agree that Tommy's a great guy, but he's not getting it done. It's like the staff slept through the DW years, and didn't try to capitalize on any of it.

We need someone to RECRUIT for football, and I doubt RC Johnson has anyone like that in the back of his mind, even if someone does cough up the $2 million to buy Tommy out of his contract.

RC Johnson's coasting, and it's happening at the expense of the football program & other sports that don't have a PR machine as head coach. I'd say it's a pretty safe bet that RC didn't lift a finger while worked on getting the Chinese coaches over here.

RC talks to Mike Rose, Fred Smith, and the other BIG donors to keep them happy, but doesn't do anything else to really change things for Memphis athletics as a whole. This is evidenced by his hands-off approach to the on-campus stadium. Any AD with real vision would stand up and say that the program needs better facilities to be a catalyst, but he just sits back & talks about how the lighting at the games will bother the neighbors on Grandview 8 nights a year.

Recruits want to see that the school they're choosing is behind the program, and right now, the football program is practically being shoved off to the side.

Yes, it seems weird to talk about spending this much $$ on a team that has a record as lousy as it does, but money talks...without investing the time & resources into the program, how can you convince kids who are being courted by bigger programs that you DO have something to offer them?

LeftWingCracker said...

Hey, what about the neighbors on Loeb? :-)

Seriously, you hit some great points here; just what DOES RC do that justifies what we pay him?

It's apparent that the administration wants nothing to do with an OCS, and is humoring Harold Byrd by commissioning a study.

Not, necessarily that I disagree, mind you, but this situation is triggering a lot of debate, which is good in the long run as we try to figure out what we want to do with football.

Julie said...

RC treats the hiring of Cal as his feather in his cap, and he's hoping to ride that all the way to a national championship, at which point he can retire in style, saying he was the only AD in Memphis history to have a national championship under his watch...the rest of the time, he's essentially got his feet propped up on the desk with a drink in hand.

He doesn't do a THING that would be worthy of him keeping his job, much less the amount of $$ he's making. Even the hiring of Cal was done more by the big boosters in town, not by RC.

I will say, Dr. Raines' lackluster view toward athletics in general isn't helping, either. But in her defense, it's her job to improve the University as a's just to her detriment that she can't see the forest for the trees - athletics and academics can work in tandem to improve each other.

Regardless, it's the AD's job to improve the lot of the athletic program, not to sit back & let everyone else tell him what's going to happen with it. RC has never taken the reins...we need someone like Louisville has in Jurich, who will lead with vision for the future benefit of the University; not someone who just has his eyes set on retirement.

Julie said...

Geoff Calkins' article this morning ties in nicely with what we're talking about....he nails it on the head, if you ask me.