Monday, November 09, 2009
I feel for Tommy West, but it was time
I agree with Chris Vernon, if you're going to go out, that's the way to go. Tommy West, after a decade with the University of Memphis football program, the last nine as head coach, was relieved of his duties today by Athletic Director RC Johnson, who many believe should have gone right with him.
Tommy showed the passion that has been his hallmark; however, I suspect that much of what he had to say will fall on deaf ears, just as his players tuned him out. He IS right that the program is at a crossroads, a piss-or-get-off-the-pot moment for UM football. They DO need better facilities to recruit better players. However, Art Briles at Houston has crappier facilities than UM, and they are going to win the CUSA West, and had an outside chance at a BCS bowl. HE" not complaining, he's winning, and he's surrounded by the Big 12 South and LSU to the east.
Here's the question, though: while UM may have an increasing number of large donors, do they have a broad-enough donor and fan base to do what needs to be done? 20,000 folks is just fine for men's hoops, but they need 40-50K as a football base. They need to get in a BCS conference, but how can that happen if they can't complete in C-USA, where West NEVER even won a division title, even with the best QB (Wimprine) and the best offensive player (Williams) in the history of the school? The SEC for UM? Never happen, not in a million years, because the SEC has the city already, they don't need the U of M.
If they will build something like TCF Bank Stadium on-campus (and it will have to be exclusively from PRIVATE sources, gang), then they might have a chance. Whatever happens, Tommy was right about one thing: go big or go home with the program. Either put your money where your mouth is, or get out of the business completely.
That's where U of M football stands, and it's up to the administration, the AD, the donors, and the hardcore fans to bring this about. Fail now, and you might as well fold up your tent, because half-assing this is not an option.