Memphis Tiger football coach Larry Porter has been dismissed a day after his second season ended with a 44-7 thrashing at Southern Miss. Memphis finished the 2011 campaign with a record of 2-10. Combined with his first-year mark of 1-11, Porter leaves the program with a record of 3-21. Over the last two seasons, Memphis lost 14 games by at least 20 points and won only one game in Conference USA play.
Hired almost exactly two years ago, Porter took his first head-coaching job with a reputation as one of the country's finest recruiters. He was a member of Les Miles' staff at LSU when the Bayou Bengals won the 2007 BCS national championship. He was also a U of M alum, having played tailback for the Tigers from 1990 to 1993. (Porter's 2,194 rushing yards rank seventh in Memphis history.)
But Porter's approach and style never seemed to take hold. On the field, Memphis was near the bottom of the national rankings for both offense and defense. There was never a signature win, the victories coming against lesser competition: Middle Tennessee, Austin Peay, and Tulane. And Porter's rigid control of access to his program bristled many. During his first season, assistant coaches and freshman players weren't allowed to speak to media.
“We want to thank Coach Porter for his efforts as our football coach but believe that it is in the best interest of our program to make a change at this point,” said Tiger athletic director R.C. Johnson in a statement. “We were proud to have Larry Porter, one of our former football lettermen, as our head coach and wish him nothing but the best in his future athletic endeavors. The expectations for the 2011 season were to see marked improvement in the team. Now that the season has been completed, I do not feel that we have seen enough improvement for the future to justify keeping this football staff in place for another year.”
The university has scheduled a press conference for Monday at noon. At a time when conference affiliation is the topic of the day for most Tiger fans, Priority One becomes replacing the face of the program that will make or break the U of M chances for attracting a BCS league.