MEMO TO: All the naysayers RE: Tommy West At $250,000 per year, Tommy West is a bargain. A big-name coach at a close-out price. The other people on the U of M coaching list not only lacked the credentials of West, they didn’t have the name recognition of the new Tiger coach. Most Memphis fans could not even pronounce the names of the offensive coordinators at Oklahoma and Georgia Tech, let alone spell them. There were no Calipari-type names in the coaching search. Which is just as well because the U of M did not have Calipari-type money to spend. West just may be the most qualified head football coach Memphis has ever hired. The fact that he has been at the school for almost a year and knows the pros and cons of the program are an added blessing. Imagine if West had gone from Clemson to an SEC school as defensive coordinator. Let’s say he finished the season with his team ranked number-one in the nation against the run and sixth in total defense, as he did at Memphis. What would people be saying about the hire under those circumstances? Yes, West was fired at Clemson. Big deal. Joe Torre was fired a couple of time before he got the job as manager of the New York Yankees. Now he is regarded as the best manager in baseball. Getting fired in the coaching game is no disgrace. West certainly did not leave a bare cupboard at Clemson. Tommy Bowden came in and benefited from the players West had recruited. Let’s see how Bowden does once he has to survive on players his staff brought to Clemson. Everyone concedes that West is a great recruiter. And a great recruiter is just what the University of Memphis football program needs. He developed a reputation over the years as a great evaluator of football talent. In other words he can locate the diamonds in the rough at the high school and junior college level. That is another skill that will serve him well at the U of M. Tiger football fans should be ecstatic to have a coach who took Clemson to three consecutive bowl games. But some didn’t even grant him a one-day honeymoon. Already they are saying he runs the ball too much, is too conservative. Based on what? After getting fired at Clemson, West took a year off from football. I believe it made him a better man and a better football coach. I think West is a smart guy who did some serious introspection about himself and his 31-28 record at Clemson. He is aware of his mistakes just as he is aware of the shortcomings in the Memphis program. West saw the problems with the Memphis offense last year. He knows it originated with an inferior offensive line and a lack of difference makers (i.e. quarterback and wide receivers). He is fully prepared to take the Memphis program to the next level. In fact, he is better prepared for that job than anyone since Rex Dockery. What do Dockery and West have in common? They both played at the University of Tennessee. Just wait and see. You will be jumping on the West bandwagon as soon as he wins. And he will win. Sooner than many of you think. (You can write Dennis Freeland at


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