Who would have thought? Not Memphis

January 17, 2020

(Mark Humphrey/AP )




Who would have thought? Not Memphis. Never in a million years did Memphis think they would make it to a New Years Six Bowl. Also, no one ever thought Memphis would be ranked No. 17 in season-end rankings. They accomplished both of those things making the 2019 season the best season in program history. Nonetheless, with the success that new head coach Ryan Silverfield has already had this season, the sky is the limit for the Memphis football program. 


Historically, in house hires are not always successful. Sometimes you get lucky and hire a Dabo Swinney and have 2 national championships in four seasons. Or, you could hire a Jason Garrett. A mediocre coach who with eight seasons can't lead a team to the Superbowl. With in-house hires, you have to have a lot of faith in their ability.  As the 25th head coach at the University of Memphis, Ryan Silverfiled has already made a great case for his leadership capabilities and has only had the position for a little over a month. 


When Silverfield was hired, Memphis Athletic Director Laird Veatch seemed sure that this was the right move to make.


“I am confident that coach Silverfield is the right man at the right time and I’m excited to join forces with him in the pursuit of more championships,” Veatch stated during the press conference announcing Silverfield as head coach. Since then, Silverfield has given Veatch all the confidence in the world that he made the right hire. 


The Coaching Staff
As expected, former Memphis coach Mike Norvell took much of his staff with him to Florida State. As devastating as it could have been, Memphis might have a better deal. Before this year's Cotton Bowl, Memphis defensive coordinator Adam Fuller followed Norvell to FSU. Even though Fuller was responsible for some major improvements for the Tigers, coach Silverfield found an even better replacement. Mike MacIntyre, former defensive coordinator at Ole Miss, was named as the new defensive coordinator for the Tigers. As one of Silverfield's most impressive hires to date, coach Macintyre was responsible for holding the Tigers to a season-low 15 points when they took on the Ole Miss Rebels in August 2019. Coach MacIntrye was also named National Coach of the year during his tenure at Colorado. Of all the impressive hires Silverfiled has made this far, Macintyre has the potential to be the most impactful.

(Photo: John Bowen, 247Sports)


A Star-Studded Offense and 2020 class 
Coach Ryan Silverfield has been able to do something many coaches can’t: keep players. After the announcement of Norvell’s departure, Silverfield's priority was to keep all 2020 commits. Of the entire 2020 class, only one decided to part ways with the Tigers. On top of that, Silverfield has been able to keep WR Damonte Coxie from declaring for the NFL draft and keeping QB Brady White for his 6th season. Coxie finished the season 1,276 yards and 9 TDs. White finished with 4,014 passing yards and 33 TDs, well on his way to breaking multiple school records.  With only 16 seniors leaving and 13 commits for the class of 2020, coach Silverfield is in the position to take the American Athletic Conference again and to be the group of 5 bid to a New Years' Six bowls.


(Photo: Justin Ford , USA TODAY Sports)


The departure of Coach Mike Norvell might have hurt, but the Memphis Tigers are far from losing their relevance. Although it takes a winning program to determine a coach's capability and a program's success, with talent and exceptional coaching staff, it will be hard for the Tigers not to continue to be a relevant program. In 2010, the Tigers finished their season with head Coach Larry Porter 1-11. And now, Look at us. In the words of Paul Rudd, “Who would have thought, not me.”

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