I'm here to tell you - Tommy West told the truth about the program that he's leaving.
I say that not to defend the decision to let him go--it was probably time. Over the past couple of years, it seemed the program had destabilized and was not pointed toward strength. There's no question about that. The offensive scheme was tired and predictable. The defense had holes aplenty and don't even get me started about special teams.
I've been going to Tiger games for a long, long time. I played trumpet for The Mighty Sound of the South in 82-83 during the first of Rex Dockery's years when in two years we won one game - it was against Arkansas State, in the rain, and so excited where the 4,000 people who showed up, that they torn down the goal posts. And why? For ending the nation's longest losing streak at the time. That's the Tigers I watched during my college days. Rex's last year, 6-4-1, you'd a thought we'd won the Sugar Bowl. We had turned the corner. We'll get 'em next year finally meant "wait 'til next year." And then, the plane crash.
Between Rex and Tommy we've had Rey, Charlie, Chuck and Rip.
What I know of the program is what I've observed as a student and as a fan in the stands for coming up on 30 years. And any of us who've watched what's happened to Memphis over the years, especially in light of what's happened to foes we used to crush like Louisville and Cincinnati, and we knew exactly what Tommy was saying. Any of us who want this program to be something other than it is even as we sit in a city continually pilfered by what the SEC can offer, understands. Any of us who are sick of consistently losing to SunBelt Conference teams understands.
So I embed the video in its entirety. I'm pulling from a YouTube feed from Fox 13. I don't watch this station. I typically watch WMC 5, but having seen the raw footage before the news aired Monday night, and then seeing what Channel 5 did with the footage and the spin they put on it (the lead was "Tommy West blasts fans as he's fired as head football coach"), I was shocked by that take because that's not what Tommy said, and any of us who love the program know that's not what he meant. I am appalled by the editorial decisions of the WMC newsroom. Had I not seen this myself in its entirety in advance, and was left to Channel 5 alone to tell me what happened, I would have thought Tommy went off the deep end.
My only wish is that he'd gone on and said what the issues were. It's not that hard to figure.
Poor league, perhaps, but the Tigers can't really complain about the league we're in until we show we can compete in it, and on that front alone, Tommy failed miserably.
Money sufficient to bring in the best staff he can? Now we're talking.
Trying to get your program recognized in the shadow of Calipari? Uh huh. And why do I say that given that he's gone? Because he's not gone. He's on our sports pages, still. The impact of presence remains long after he's gone.
Poor leadership in the Athletics Department and University Administration? Now we're talking.
I say all this and I believe it's time for Tommy to no longer be our head football coach. I'm hoping, however the Athletics Director position at Memphis would be one he'd be willing to take once Elvis leaves the building.
Cue CC Rider - See ya RC.