Memphis football fell off the national radar for many college football fans after the departure of head coach Justin Fuente and quarterback Paxton Lynch. Those fans made a big, big mistake.
Despite losing Fuente — who transformed a program that won five total games in the three years before he arrive into one that won 19 in his final two season — to Virginia Tech and Lynch — a three-year starter who threw for 59 touchdowns and nearly 9,000 yards — to the NFL, the Tigers won eight games, ranked 15th nationally scoring average and reached a third-straight bowl game for the second time program history.
Mike Norvell, a 35-year-old first-time head coach, and Riley Ferguson, a first-time starting quarterback, led the charge in ensuring there wasn't a drop-off following the losses of Fuente and Lynch. And on Friday, Norvell was rewarded with a one-year extension on his contract, through the 2021 season.
Per usual, the extension came with a raise. However, Norvell opted to give the raise amount, $250,000, to his assistants, the school said in a release.
"This is a part of our continual commitment and support for Coach Norvell and his staff for the incredible work they do building our football program and leading our student-athletes," said Tom Bowen, Memphis athletics director.
If Norvell has another good season, it's reasonable to assume Bowen will be fielding interview requests from other programs, if he hasn't already.