NCF Nation: Tommy West

Lunchtime Links

January, 27, 2011
Join me for a chat today at 4 p.m. Send in those questions whenever you can.

Now on to some links:

San Diego State president Stephen Weber is not mad at coach Brady Hoke for going to Michigan.

Where will Colin Kaepernick get drafted?

Middle Tennessee has hired two assistant coaches.

A single recruit may be the most important in Gary Andersen's tenure at Utah State.

Under Jeff Quinn, Buffalo has shifted priorities in recruiting. The Bulls already have 20 verbal commitments.

Experience helps Tommy West settle in as UAB defensive coordinator.

The commitments are piling up for Colorado State.

Former Tulsa commit Dexter Aucoin has switched his allegiance to Louisiana, where he is already enrolled and will be able to participate in spring drills. The reason? The Tulsa coaching change.
Former Memphis coach Tommy West has been hired as UAB defensive coordinator, the school announced Friday.

West replaces Eric Schumann on the UAB staff. Schumann had served as the defensive coordinator the past four seasons.

In addition to his coordinator duties, West will also coach the linebackers. Tyson Summers, who has served as linebackers coach the past four seasons, will now coach the UAB safeties.

West brings plenty of experience to the staff. Most recently, he served as the head coach at the Memphis, where he guided the Tigers to five bowl appearances in nine seasons. He was fired after in November 2009.

“I’ve known Tommy since the mid-80s and I’ve always thought he did a great job,” UAB coach Neil Callaway said in a statement. “I was really impressed with the job he did with Memphis’ defense when he was their coordinator, and the job he did as a head coach both there and when he was at Clemson.

“I know he is a good person and outstanding coach who fits into what we are doing both in philosophy and in toughness.”

West spent the 2000 season as defensive coordinator before becoming head coach. The Tigers finished the season ranked No. 1 in the nation in rushing defense (72.7 yards allowed per game) and were fifth in total defense (275.3 yards yielded per contest).

West also spent five seasons (1993-98) as the head coach at Clemson. He coached the Tigers to a win in the Peach Bowl a month after being hired and was a part of four bowl teams during his time at Clemson.

Non-AQ coaches continue to fall

December, 1, 2009
The round of coach firings, dismissals, retirements, and resignations for the non-AQ should be coming to a close pretty soon.

Akron’s J.D. Brookhart was relived of his duties last Friday, Marshall’s Mark Snyder resigned on Sunday and in a little bit of a surprise, Louisiana-Monroe announced Monday that Charlie Weatherbie would not have his contract renewed.

By my count, there’s only one coach, maybe two, that should be concerned: North Texas’ Todd Dodge and Arkansas State’s Steve Roberts. Both fell way below expectations this year and during several years prior. I think Dodge is in more trouble than Roberts, but here’s a rundown of the coaching carousel:


David Elson, Western Kentucky (0-11, 0-7 Sun Belt; vs. Arkansas State)

Tommy West, Memphis (2-10, 1-7 C-USA)

Mike Sanford, UNLV (5-7, 3-5 MWC)

Dick Tomey, San Jose State (2-9, 1-6 WAC; at Louisiana Tech)

J.D. Brookhart, Akron (3-9, 2-6 MAC)

Mark Snyder, Marshall (6-6, 4-4 C-USA)

Charlie Weatherbie, Louisiana-Monroe (6-6, 5-3 Sun Belt)


Larry Porter, Memphis (LSU RB coach)

Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky (Stanford RB coach)


Todd Dodge, North Texas (2-10, 1-8 Sun Belt): Dodge lost his final regular season game last week to finish the year 2-10. He’s 5-31 in his three years with the program and the competitiveness of the Mean Green has been hit and miss. They lost their last three games by a score, but all of those losses came to teams with losing records. However, three years is not a long time for a coach. Dodge hasn’t gotten all of his recruits in place and at least offensively, there’s a lot of talent returning.

Steve Roberts, Arkansas State (2-7, 1-4 Sun Belt): Arkansas State beat North Texas last week and should defeat Western Kentucky this week to earn a 4-8 overall record, which is a far cry from what many were expecting. This spiral started last season when the team needed a win for a bowl and the Red Wolves haven’t gotten out of the funk. Arkansas State hasn’t had a winning season since 1995, but it has had three 6-6 seasons during Roberts’ eight-year tenure.


Mike Price, UTEP (4-8, 3-5 C-USA): UTEP AD Bob Stull said Price was safe before the beatdown of Marshall, but that solidified it. Even though UTEP underachieved this season, it still showed flashes of being a potential contender in Conference USA. Price will get one more year to see if he can turn the program around.

Mike Locksley, New Mexico (1-11, 1-7 MWC): Obviously, this was not an ideal season for New Mexico, but I said all along that Locksley needed just one win to keep his job and he got it against Colorado State. However, a sub-.500 record won’t cut it next year especially with the PR nightmare Locksley put the university through this season. He’ll need to show big improvement in 2010 to stay safe.

Greg McMackin, Hawaii (6-6, 3-5 WAC; vs. Wisconsin): A lot of credit goes to McMackin for the turnaround his team has performed in an attempt to save its season. The Warriors still need one more win for a bowl berth, but they were left for dead after a six-game losing streak through the middle of the season. The Warriors have won four in a row with Wisconsin coming to town.

George O’Leary, UCF (8-4, 6-2 C-USA): A lot of people wanted O’Leary fired after last season not only for the poor results on the field, but also some of the drama off of it. But Central Florida has rallied around its embattled coach and come up with an eight-win campaign and a bowl berth. The defense has been fantastic and O’Leary should be praised for getting the program back on track.
1. Temple goes for history: The Temple Owls will be bidding to make history this Friday when they play Ohio. The Owls have won nine straight and a 10th win would mark their best season since 1979. A win also would guarantee the Owls their first division title and a chance to play for their first conference title.

2. Reversal of fortune: Southern Miss is pretty much East Carolina’s kryptonite. The Pirates are 2-15 in the last 17 games against the Golden Eagles in Greenville, N.C., and haven’t won since 1994. This game is for the C-USA East title and a trip to the C-USA title game.

3. More on C-USA: East Carolina is bidding to become the first C-USA team to win back-to-back titles under the current format with a championship game. The last team to win back-to-back title in C-USA is Louisville, which did it in 2000 and 2001.

4. Just finish: TCU already has won as many games as its 1938 national championship team and Saturday it will bid for its 12th regular-season win. If the Horned Frogs beat New Mexico, they will win the Mountain West outright and make their first-ever appearance in a BCS bowl.

5. Running with a purpose: Nevada’s running game has been seemingly unstoppable for the past eight weeks, but against Boise State on Friday it will run into the best rushing defense it’s faced all year. Nevada has played within a score of the Broncos during the past two meetings.

6. Their own undefeated seasons: Both Troy and Central Michigan are bidding for their first undefeated conference campaigns this weekend. Troy already has won the Sun Belt title and faces Louisiana-Lafayette in the final regular-season game and Central Michigan faces Northern Illinois, the only other bowl eligible team in the West Division.

7. First-year magic: Of the three first-year head coaches in the Mountain West, only Wyoming’s Dave Christensen has his team on the cusp of a bowl berth and he might have had the least amount of talent. The Cowboys have to beat Colorado State to earn that sixth win.

8. Tomey’s final home game: Saturday’s game against New Mexico State will mark the final home game for San Jose State coach Dick Tomey. Tomey announced last week that he was retiring and that he wanted to leave on a good note. The Spartans have won just one game this season and lost their last six.

9. Swan songs: Both Memphis coach Tommy West and UNLV coach Mike Sanford will be coaching their final games this weekend after being fired by their respective schools. West is 2-9 this season and Sanford is 4-7. Neither school has named a replacement.

10. Getting to seven: Both Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana-Lafayette are fighting for their seventh win and a probable bowl berth. However, notching that seventh win seems unlikely considering they are facing the two top teams in the conference. (Louisiana-Monroe is facing Middle Tennessee and Louisiana-Lafayette takes on Troy.)

MTSU's Stockstill to speak with Memphis

November, 17, 2009
Memphis has asked for and receiver permission to talk to Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill, the coach said in a statement released by Middle Tennessee.

Stockstill, who is in his fourth season with the Blue Raiders, is one of several candidates for the coaching position that came open last week when Tommy West was fired. West agreed to coach through the end of the season.

According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, other candidates include LSU assistant head coach and former Memphis running back Larry Porter, Oklahoma State co-offensive coordinator Gunter Brewer and Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster.

Middle Tennessee is 7-3 and chasing down Troy for the Sun Belt title. The Blue Raiders are likely headed to a bowl game. If they defeat Arkansas State this weekend, they’ll notch their first eight-win season since 2001.

“Memphis has called and asked for permission to speak with me,” Stockstill said in the statement. “Permission was granted, but I have not interviewed with them. Usually when things like this happen you are playing well and have a good football team.

“I am flattered they have an interest in me, but the only thing I am focused on is the team and finishing the season.”

Stockstill was actually a former assistant at Clemson under West.

The Blue Raiders defeated Memphis 31-14 earlier this year and Stockstill is 24-23 overall.
Posted by’s Graham Watson

1. Battle in C-USA East: East Carolina leads a group of five possible C-USA East champions, and since the Pirates play on Sunday, they will know exactly where they stand by the day of the game. But Southern Miss, Central Florida, Marshall and UAB are all fighting to stay within striking distance of the C-USA East title. Southern Miss and UAB have the best chance since both have yet to play ECU.

2. And in the other East: Ohio put some pressure on Temple this week with its big win over Buffalo to stay in contention for the MAC East title. Temple, which plays Akron this weekend, has won seven straight but struggled with Miami (Ohio) last week. Temple is already a game up on Ohio, but the two teams have to meet at the end of the season.

3. Staying in the MAC: Central Michigan made a huge statement on Wednesday that it wasn’t going to be bothered by the loss to Boston College two weeks ago. The Chippewas are eyeing their third conference title in the past four seasons and have been the most dominant MAC team all year. However, Northern Illinois is lurking, and with a win against Ball State Thursday night, it could continue to put pressure on CMU and the meeting at the end of the season.

4. Style points do matter: Boise State found out the hard way last week that style points do matter when you’re fighting for your BCS bowl life. That’s why making a good showing against a seven-win Idaho team will go a long way toward getting back in voters' good graces. It won’t get the Broncos above an undefeated TCU, but it will keep them back on the at-large radar.

5. Not the biggest game of the year: TCU coach Gary Patterson said he doesn’t want his team to think of Saturday’s game against No. 16 Utah as an all-or-nothing affair. He said his team has done a good job of taking games one at a time and he thinks this one will be no different despite the fact that it’s the last major obstacle standing in the Horned Frogs' way of their first BCS bowl.

6. Last chance: This weekend’s game against Air Force is UNLV’s last chance to become bowl eligible. The Rebels have just two games remaining this season and need to win both to get to six wins. Air Force has four losses this year, but only one -- a loss to Minnesota -- has come against an unranked team. If UNLV doesn’t win, coach Mike Sanford could be in trouble at the end of the weekend.

7. Lame ducks: Both Memphis coach Tommy West and Western Kentucky coach David Elson were fired this week and both decided to coach their teams through the rest of the year. Applaud them for doing right by the players, and perhaps the players will rally around their coaches.

8. WAC still up for grabs? Boise State should win the WAC this season, but if something crazy does happen, this weekend’s game between Nevada and Fresno State could feature the next WAC champion. Nevada is the only other undefeated team in the WAC besides Boise State and it will play the Broncos at the end of the season. Fresno State is Nevada’s last major hurdle before Boise State.

9. Firing season is upon us: After last weekend’s firings, it's clear that athletic directors and presidents aren’t going to be shy to pull the trigger on their coaches. Several coaches already are on the hot seat -- North Texas’ Todd Dodge and Akron's JD Brookhart to name a couple -- and should be weary of Sunday and Monday should they lose this weekend.

10. Holding out hope in the Belt: Middle Tennessee and Louisiana-Monroe still have an outside chance at catching Troy, which is playing out of conference this week. If both the Blue Raiders and the Warhawks win this week, they’ll be a game back of Troy, but the Trojans would hold the tiebreaker in head-to-head competition. Those teams need to win out and hope Troy falls in a conference game.
Posted by’s Graham Watson

Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has been named as a possible candidate for both the Memphis and Western Kentucky head-coaching positions.

Tulsa and East Carolina square off this weekend in a rematch of last year’s Conference USA title game.

The Wyoming defense is still learning how to shut down the passing games of their opposition.

Hawaii’s not saying whether its kicking competition is open, but the Warriors' two place-kickers are practicing like it is.

Memphis coach Tommy West changed the way his firing was perceived with the words he leveled against the school earlier this week.

Larry Kehres at UNLV? The fans are throwing the Mount Union head coach’s name out there even though Mike Sanford is still the coach.

The firing of David Elson has been tough on Western Kentucky’s players.
Posted by's Ivan Maisel
  1. Tommy West, let go by Clemson in 1998, returned as a head coach at Memphis in 2001. His Tigers, save the DeAngelo Williams years, never rose above mediocre. Memphis canned West Monday. How many coaches have successful second acts? David Cutcliffe of Duke and Frank Solich of Ohio, maybe. Ron Zook of Illinois? Jury’s out. Tulane’s Bob Toledo? UCF’s George O’Leary? Phil Fulmer and Tommy Tuberville should consider that as they read the coaching wanted ads.
  2. LeGarrette Blount is back at Oregon, a week later than expected. But he gets to restart his season at home instead of at Stanford. In the meantime, whatever happened to Boise State sophomore defensive end Byron Hout, whose taunt caused Blount to knock him down? He’s just fine, thank you. Hout, despite backing up junior Ryan Winterswyk, ranks third among the Broncos in both tackles for loss (5.5) and sacks (2).
  3. TCU moves up to fourth in the BCS but if the Horned Frogs and No. 5 Cincinnati win out, I bet they swap places. TCU will get a boost should it defeat No. 16 Utah on Saturday night. But the Horned Frogs finish with Wyoming (4-5) and New Mexico (0-9). The Bearcats have No. 25 West Virginia, Illinois and No. 12 Pittsburgh left. If Texas doesn’t satisfy the voters as it powers through a weakened Big 12, the Longhorns may find the Bearcats on their backside.
Posted by’s Graham Watson

Memphis coach Tommy West will coach the final three games of this season despite being relieved of his duties early Monday morning.

Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson said the search for a new head coach would begin immediately, but that he asked West to finish out the season.
“I would ask every Tiger fan to attend Saturday’s game against UAB as a tribute to not only Coach West, but our seniors who have meant so much to our program,” Johnson said in a statement.

“The search will start immediately for a new head coach and I will assure you that I have not hired a coach nor do I have one in my back pocket that I will bring in tomorrow. I would like to move as fast as possible for the sake of recruiting, but will not be able to address media questions on a regular basis until the search has been completed.”
West has been with the Tigers since 2001 and has led them to a bowl appearance five of the past six seasons. In 2003, he guided the Tigers to their first bowl game in 32 years. He’s also the second head coach in school history to win seven or more games in three consecutive seasons.

West spoke at a news conference after the school's announcement.

"Sometimes as a head coach you can't say things because if you do it's kind of sour grapes,'' West said. "You can't say the way it is.

"Now is the time to stand up for your university and your football program. I'm the seventh straight coach that stands here saying the same things to you. This is the seventh straight time this has happened.''

Despite all of West's accomplishments, Memphis hasn’t lived up to expectations this season, especially with a roster loaded with transfers from automatic qualifying schools. The Tigers are 2-7 this season and have just one Conference USA win. But the Tigers also have gone through several injuries that have stunted their offensive production this season.

"At some point in time you've got to say, 'We've got to help this football program,'" West said. "'We've got to do the things necessary to make this what we want it or do away with it.' I couldn't say that as a coach. It's too painful. It's painful for coaches, for players and for fans. Put something in it or do away with it.''

Posted by’s Graham Watson

Honolulu Star-Bulletin columnist Dave Reardon isn't buying Idaho’s turnaround this season.

UNLV is addressing tackling issues during practice this week.

Southern Miss is ready to end its three-game losing streak this week against Memphis.

Talks to continue the series between Marshall and West Virginia are at a standstill.

Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore uses his mobility to get out of trouble in the backfield.

UCF is figuring out how to notch a win over Miami this weekend, which would be the biggest win in school history.

Even with a win over UTEP last week, some still believe Memphis coach Tommy West is still in trouble.

Rice’s youth continues to show its inexperience during tough games.

San Jose State’s rushing defense has been abused at times this season and it won’t get any easier with Fresno State rusher Ryan Mathews up next.

Posted by’s Graham Watson

Curtis Steele was embarrassed even telling the story.

 Joe Murphy/Getty Images
 Memphis beat UTEP behind Curtis Steele's huge day that included three touchdowns.
That fact he hyperextended his knee while jumping up and down in dissatisfaction because a long run of his was called back was not something he wanted to continue to relive.

“It happened out of frustration,” Steele said. “I knew right away something was wrong. There was pain and I wasn’t able to cut. I felt pretty bad just knowing that I was injured like that.”

The injury happened against Middle Tennessee on Sept. 12 and cost Steele two full games and part of the Central Florida game two weeks ago. But after that UCF game, Steele said he knew he was ready to play. The following Sunday he wasn’t in pain and during practice he was moving like he was at the beginning of the season.

So when coach Tommy West threw Steele in as the starter against a UTEP team that was coming off a huge win over Houston, Steele knew he had a chance to make up for a stupid mistake.

“Earlier that week, I just had a feeling that I was going to have a big game and it was going to be a good week for us,” Steele said. “I just felt like we were going to come out and win.”

Steele rushed for a career-high 240 yards on 39 carries. His two rushing touchdowns helped the Tigers pull away in the fourth quarter. He also had a receiving touchdown in the first half. Most importantly, Steele helped his team achieve a much-needed 35-20 victory as the Tigers attempt to dig themselves out of the cellar of Conference USA East.

“We got Curtis back, and we looked like a totally different team,” West said. “I thought Curtis played great.”

Coming into the game, the Tigers' offense was floundering. Memphis ranked 100th nationally in scoring (19.8 points per game), 96th in total offense (327.8 yards per game) and 92nd in rushing (114.6 ypg). The Tigers had lost their games by an average of 19.25 points.

A year ago, this same offense, led by Steele, ranked 22nd in the nation in rushing with 194.85 ypg.

West said by getting the running game going, the Tigers were able to open up the passing game and get quarterback Will Hudgens some confidence.

Steele said it felt like the team from a year ago for the first time this season.

“There were gaps on the field that I could run through, but I also had to make some people miss,” Steele said. “It felt a lot like last year. I had a lot of thoughts coming back from last year. It just really felt good getting back out there.”

Last season, after three Memphis quarterbacks suffered major injuries in late October, the offense turned to Steele to carry it. He did so admirably and helped his team to six wins and a berth in the St. Petersburg Bowl.

Steele now is hoping that his effort in last week’s game will spark a turnaround for this year’s 2-4 team.

“I feel like the team can rally around my effort because they know we have a run game now,” Steele said. “It’s going to be easier for our offense as a whole. If you can establish a run game, you can easily throw the ball down the field.

“I just know that I just have to be there for when they call on me. Just be there to make my play and everything else will work out.”
Posted by’s Graham Watson

Memphis running back Curtis Steele is expected to be at 100 percent for this weekend’s game against UTEP and his assistance couldn’t come at a better time.

The 1-4 Tigers have struggled on offense, their only win coming against Tennessee-Martin. The Tigers rank 100th nationally in scoring (19.8 ppg), 96th in total offense (327.8 yards per game) and 92nd in rushing (114.6 yards per game). They have lost by an average of 19.25 points.

Steele has missed two games because of a knee injury and played sparingly in a third while he was still recovering. Memphis hasn’t gotten much out of transfer Lance Smith and coach Tommy West thinks Steele might be the catalyst to get the offense moving.

“I think he can make a huge difference because we don't get [very many long runs],” West said of Steele “Our longest run of the year is probably 20 yards. We're getting nothing right now as far as any kind of explosion runs. We're getting nothing even close to explosion runs. We're not breaking the line of scrimmage very often. We have to have that. If we get that, then I believe we have some people [that can make things happen].”

UTEP is the perfect opponent to inspire an offensive turnaround. The Miners allow 204.80 yards rushing per game and 494.40 yards of total offense. However, three of the Miners’ games were against opponents ranked in the Top 25.

West said he thinks Steele and backup T.J. Pitts will not only give the Tigers an opportunity for big rushing plays, but it also will allow the Tigers to manage the clock against an offensively explosive UTEP team.

Also, West thinks getting the running game going will only fuel the rest of the offense and get both the quarterbacks and leading receiver Duke Calhoun going as well.

“Duke [Calhoun] is doing it without it, which is why I'm bragging and calling Duke out by name because that's incredible without a running game to do what he's doing in the passing game,” West said. “Now if you have somebody and you're running the ball, then it makes it a little easier in the passing game to make some big plays.”

Posted by’s Graham Watson

Posted by’s Graham Watson

Memphis coach Tommy West thinks he might have finally solved Memphis’ offensive woes.

The Tigers were one of the worst teams in the country in total offense after the first two games of this season, but in a 41-14 win over Tennessee-Martin, West saw improvement and it was due in part to new starting quarterback Tyler Bass.

Bass, a sophomore, started his first game and moved the ball well. He completed 22-of-28 passes for 293 yards and four touchdowns and rushed 16 times for 80 yards and a touchdown.

His 85-yard touchdown pass to Duke Calhoun late in the second quarter was the longest offensive play for Memphis since 2003.

“I thought Tyler brought exactly what we thought; the option game to the run and hitting guys downfield,” West said during his weekly press conference. “He is a very accurate thrower and a fade thrower. He did well in the play-action game, which should now be good for us. I was pleased with the perimeter run game, the quarterback runs and screen passes.”

Bass replaced Akelon Hall, last year’s starter who has struggled during the first two games of this season. He had no touchdowns and three interceptions.

Bass came in against Middle Tennessee two weeks ago and gained some confidence by completing all four of his passes for 33 yards and rushing for 17 yards in limited time. He carried that strong play over against Tennessee-Martin and finally gave Memphis something to build on as it moves into conference play against Marshall this weekend.

West said Bass still has many areas in which to improve, but that that will come with increased reps in practice. He also said Bass can run better than he showed against Tennessee-Martin, but that he suffered a leg whip early in the game, which limited his movement a bit.

Bass is finally getting show what he can do after missing his opportunity a year ago. He played in two games and split time against Southern Miss before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

Less than a year later, Bass looks to be the Tigers’ best option for success.

“We've played well in spots and then we've played terrible in spots,” West said of his team through the first two games. “It's an inconsistency right now, probably defensively [more than offensively]. If I had to pick something that pleases me the most, it is that we came back offensively. We were terrible. We were a bad offensive team. We have been inside the top 30 offensively two years in a row. All of a sudden, we are one of the worst teams in the country offensively in the first two games. I guess the thing that pleases me the most is that now we are back on track offensively.”

Memphis adds another transfer

September, 11, 2009

Posted by’s Graham Watson

Memphis has taken on yet another transfer.

Former Stanford return specialist Chris Hobbs has joined the Tigers. Memphis coach Tommy West said that the NCAA hasn’t cleared Hobbs, but West expects him to be eligible for this season. Hobbs, a native of Marietta, Ga., graduated from Stanford, but had a year of eligibility remaining.

Hobbs was Stanford’s punt returner and a backup cornerback during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. He tallied 31 returns for 195 yards during those two seasons.