Tigers fire Tommy West, will stay on through season

BY foxsports • November 9, 2009

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Memphis fired coach Tommy West on Monday, saying the school wants to do in a different direction after the season.

Athletic Director R.C. Johnson said at a news conference that he had
met with West earlier Monday morning and told the coach that the
university "wanted our program to go in a different direction." He also
asked West to stay through the end of the season.

The firing comes after the Tigers started the season 2-7 and less than
48 hours after a 56-28 loss to instate rival Tennessee.

The Commercial Appeal first reported the firing.

Johnson said the search will start immediately. He said while Division
I experience was not mandatory, recruiting at that level will be an
important factor in the new coach. The athletic director said he
already has "been inundated with candidates."

"It's not a good day at the office," West said at the news conference right after his firing was announced.

West is 49-58 in his ninth season as head coach. He led Memphis to five
bowl games in the past six years, and he was one of only four coaches
in school history with four winning seasons while coaching at least
five seasons with the Tigers.

The firing
comes on the heels of Saturday's woeful showing against the Volunteers,
assuring Memphis (2-7; 1-4 Conference USA) of its second straight
losing season and third in the last four years.

West's overall record is 84-93, including coaching stints at Tennessee-Chattanooga and Clemson.

Besides a 35-20 win over UTEP on October 10, the only other Memphis
victory this season was 41-14 over Tennessee-Martin of the Football
Championship Subdivision.

West was named
the Tigers defensive coordinator in 2000, and a year later became head
coach, replacing Rip Scherer. He led Memphis to three consecutive
winning seasons from 2003-05 and his fifth bowl was last year's St.
Petersburg Bowl.

But in recent years his
teams struggled early in the season and rallied down the stretch to
become bowl eligible. This year, they never recovered from a poor start
and have lost three straight by wide margins.

The worst may have been a 38-19 loss to East Carolina on Oct. 27. Not
only did the Tigers perform poorly on the field, but a rainy night
resulted in only a couple of thousand people in the stands at Liberty
Bowl Memorial Stadium in a nationally televised game.

That, followed by Tennessee's thumping of the Tigers Saturday, apparently proved too much.

Received 11/09/09 01:27 pm ET