Team preview: Memphis

Editor's Note: ESPN Insider has teamed with Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook to provide a comprehensive look at the Division I-A teams. To order the complete 2008 edition of Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook, visit www.blueribbonyearbook.com or call 1-866-805-BALL (2255).

(All information as of June 20, 2008)

In 2006, Watson Brown left UAB after 12 seasons and Chris Scelfo left Tulane after eight seasons. In 2007, Jeff Bower left Southern Miss after 17 seasons. Houston, SMU, Rice and Tulsa have hired two coaches each since 2002. East Carolina, Marshall, UCF and UTEP have all made coaching changes in that span.

And then there's Tommy West, who has been the head coach at Memphis since 2001.
"You've got to be kidding. I hadn't even thought about that," West said. "Seven years as a head coach and I'm the dean [of Conference USA coaches]? I'm not sure if that's good or bad. That must mean I'm the next one out. I've got the bulls eye on me, now."
West laughed as he said that, but he wasn't laughing midway through the 2007 season when some frustrated Memphis fans started wondering if the time had come for a coaching change.

The Tigers started out 2-4 and appeared to be well on their way to a second consecutive losing season. A lightning storm postponed the Arkansas State game and forced the Tigers to play three games in 12 days. Then sophomore defensive lineman Taylor Bradford was murdered by four men on Sept. 30.

Just when the Tigers appeared to be down for the count, they came back to win five of their remaining regular-season games and earn a bowl bid for the fourth time in the last five years. For a program that had only been to two bowls in school history before 2003, that's a big deal.