Somewhat suddenly, Memphis has become the kind of football team that's capable of garnering national attention. Unfortunately, it's not the kind of attention the Tigers would like; after being on the receiving end of out-and-out hammerings from Mississippi State (understandable) and the Sun Belt's Arkansas State (dramatically less so), Larry Porter's team is the clear leader in the race to be named the Worst Team in the FBS.
So embarrassing have the losses been that Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson was compelled this week to offer Porter an emphatic vote of confidence--just two weeks into Porter's second season at the helm. But unfortunately for Porter, the support from Johnson (himself a not-entirely-popular figure among many Memphis fans these days) won't do much to win over a Tiger fanbase that just saw the Tigers outgained 611-169 by the Red Wolves. (That former Memphis-area high school coach Hugh Freeze -- Michael Oher's coach in The Blind Side -- is now in charge at Arkansas State only adds insult to injury.)
For one high-profile example of how badly Porter needs a popularity boost, look to famous former wrestler, current WWE personality and Memphis legend Jerry "The King" Lawler, who this week e-mailed local Commercial-Appeal columnist Geoff Calkins his opinion on Porter and Johnson. That opinion is not one that's going to do either of them any favors:
Hi Geoff,If Lawler's assessment is one shared by the majority of Memphis supporters -- and after these breutal first two weeks, we'd be surprised if it wasn't -- Porter's seat may only get hotter from here. If there's any coach that needs a victory worse that Porter does this week at home against FCS Austin Peay (likely the Tigers' best opportunity at a win this season), we certainly haven't seen him.
This is just a quick note to commend you for ... tell[ing] it exactly like it is concerning the sorry state of the University of Memphis football program ... Memphis football is a laughing stock to the rest of the nation and an embarrassment to anyone from this city. Stick to your guns, keep shouting the truth...Memphis football will never improve until both Porter and Johnson are gone!
UPDATE: It's not Johnson or Porter just yet, but heads at Memphis have started to roll; with the Tigers mired at dead last in the country in total defense, defensive coordinator Jay Hopson has been fired. Per the Commercial-Appeal's Kyle Veazey, Hopson will be replaced by co-coordinators Galen Scott and Mike Dubose, the latter famous for his tenure as head coach at Alabama.
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