Tommy West is a class act

 

Thanksgiving is next week and in that spirit I want to take a break from the BCS, player arrests, and the coaching carousel to tell you a good story about a good man.

About a million years ago I played high school football against Tommy West. His Gainesville High School team beat my team from Greene County for a conference championship. West was a running back and a really good player. That’s why he played college football at Tennessee and I became a sports writer.

I followed his career at Tennessee and then later when he became an assistant coach on the rise. He worked for Danny Ford at Clemson and later became the Tigers’ head coach. After he was let go at Clemson he eventually became the head coach at Memphis. Personally, I always knew him to be a class act.

 Last week he proved it to the rest of the world.

Tommy West got fired last week. He’s 55 years old and had done just about everything he could do at a place like Memphis. He made them competitive and took them to four bowl games, which is not an easy thing to do in the middle of SEC country. But this season the program took a dip and is currently 2-8. The powers that be decided they wanted somebody to “take the program to another level”, as they always like to say.

 After his dismissal was announced, West stood before the press and told Memphis some stuff it didn’t want to hear. He told Memphis that if they wanted to get to another level in football, they had better start investing some money into the program as their competitors have. Most fired coaches take their settlement and go quietly. West said what needed to be said. I admire that.

West agreed to coach for the rest of the season and last Saturday Memphis played its final home game against UAB. It had to be a bittersweet moment for a man who has given so much of his life to college football and isn’t quite sure what he is going to do next.

I didn’t do the original reporting on the story that follows. That was done by my friend Geoff Caulkins of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. But because it is such a good story, and because West is from Gainesville, I wanted to share it with you here.

Memphis was getting absolutely destroyed by UAB, which led 31-7 in the third quarter. But with less than two minutes left Memphis blocked a punt and recovered it on the UAB six-yard line. West sent Brett Toney into play quarterback.

Toney, you should know, is the Memphis version of Notre Dame’s “Rudy.” He was a good high school player who grew up loving Memphis football but wasn’t good enough to get a scholarship. So he walked on and was content to ride the bench of for five years. He got to play some when other quarterbacks got hurt but in all that time Toney had never, ever, scored a touchdown.

But West sent Toney into the game with a play designed for him to either keep the ball or pitch to a running back. To no one’s surprise, including West’s, Toney kept the ball and scored. It allowed West the luxury of a smile in what was otherwise a dismal week and a dismal season.

“If I don’t do anything good in my life, I feel like I did some good there,” West told the Commercial-Appeal after the game.

So while we’re consumed with who’s going to get fired and who’s going to get hired and whose team is going to get a $19 million payday from the BCS, let’s take a moment to remember that there are a lot of guys out there like Tommy West and Brett Toney. To them the game is about more than just getting paid. It’s about doing something you love.

Brett Toney will never make a dime playing football but no one can ever take that touchdown away from him. And the older he gets, the more priceless the moment will become.

Tommy West has two more games to coach at Memphis, on Saturday at Houston and on Nov. 27 at Tulsa. Those could be the last two football games that he ever coaches. But he will always remember how he felt when Brett Toney crossed the goal line.

College football can break your heart and often does. But every now and then it can also make your heart soar. That’s why it is a helluva game.

 

 Please follow me on Twitter:

http://twitter.com/MrCFB

143 comments Add your comment

Nachos

November 18th, 2009
8:48 am

Hey Tony
Where you a cheerleader at Greene County? Or a band member?

Dink

November 18th, 2009
8:52 am

Great story, Tony…thanks.

Go Dawgs!!

Allen

November 18th, 2009
8:55 am

I grew up in Gainesville and have wonderful memories of watching Tommy play for the Red Elephants. I also have the great pleasure of having met and gotten to know his parents, Jim and Carol West, who are two of the finest people you’ll ever meet. Good luck to Tommy in whatever pursuits he decides to follow!

Drew

November 18th, 2009
8:56 am

Excellent story Tony. We needed to hear that, especially with all these highly hyped players with no discipline thinking they can do anything they want without consequence. It is great to hear about two guys that make it about more than football. As a Southern Miss fan, I have grown to have a huge respect for what West has done at a basketball school. I hope he lands somewhere where he can continue to make a difference in the lives of others.

MGFLA

November 18th, 2009
9:00 am

Tony,

I too went to Greene County and grew up in Union Point. The place just isn’t the same since the Chipman-Union shut down. Still home though. Who was your coach when you played?

JB

November 18th, 2009
9:01 am

Great story, per usual.

HBTD!!!

Jesup Dawg

November 18th, 2009
9:02 am

To bad he doesn’t coach D we are looking for a good man.

Kid Ray

November 18th, 2009
9:06 am

Nice guy, prob in over his head as a HC. But a nice guy nonetheless.

ED

November 18th, 2009
9:06 am

Great change of pace, really enjoyed the article.

Kid Ray

November 18th, 2009
9:07 am

Looks like Mike Leach to Lville? should lift the Big East up another notch.

Seven Head

November 18th, 2009
9:08 am

Tony, fabulous story…I appreciate you taking time to write about two men with guts and character…you possess the same qualities….

Tide Rising

November 18th, 2009
9:08 am

Good story. Since we live in an instant gratification world it doesn’t surprise me when any coach gets fired after one bad season. I seemed to remember Memphis was a pretty decent team for several years. They beat UT one year and had several very respectable teams when Deangelo Hall played. Hopefully West will get picked up as an assistant at a bcs conference school.

Seven Head

November 18th, 2009
9:08 am

Enter your comments here

EW

November 18th, 2009
9:10 am

Enjoyed the read TB, nice changeup from the BCS blogging. I really felt bad for this guy when I heard he got fired. I can’t imagine the frustration of an administration who wants a coach to take a team to the next level but is unwilling to give them the necessary tools. I guess they put all their money into high profile basketball coaches…and we see where THAT got them. Ironic that the negative light on the school is coming from what it considers it’s conerstone sport. Maybe they need to divert those funds to the football program.

EW

November 18th, 2009
9:10 am

Enjoyed the read TB, nice changeup from the BCS blogging. I really felt bad for this guy when I heard he got fired. I can’t imagine the frustration of an administration who wants a coach to take a team to the next level but is unwilling to give them the necessary tools. I guess they put all their money into high profile basketball coaches…and we see where THAT got them. Ironic that the negative light on the school is coming from what it considers it’s conerstone sport. Maybe they need to divert those funds to the football program.

EW

November 18th, 2009
9:10 am

Enjoyed the read TB, nice changeup from the BCS blogging. I really felt bad for this guy when I heard he got fired. I can’t imagine the frustration of an administration who wants a coach to take a team to the next level but is unwilling to give them the necessary tools. I guess they put all their money into high profile basketball coaches…and we see where THAT got them. Ironic that the negative light on the school is coming from what it considers it’s conerstone sport. Maybe they need to divert those funds to the football program.

EW

November 18th, 2009
9:11 am

Sorry for the multiple posts..my submit button had a mind of its own this morning…

Miles

November 18th, 2009
9:13 am

Pretty damn good Mr. Barnhart; pretty damn good!

GT Fan

November 18th, 2009
9:13 am

Well said, There’s more to life than just winning games. Coach West is storying up rewards for later and Toney will never forget his Coach for caring.

Not over

November 18th, 2009
9:18 am

Tommy West can still coach if he so chooses. The App State coach came from Div 1 and has never looked back. You know the succes he has had….

lanier

November 18th, 2009
9:20 am

Memphis is a coaches graveyard and always will be. I went there long ago. We played mostly on Sat night and believe me there was NOTHING else to do in that town. We played in the Liberty Bowl Stadium a top notch facility at the time and drew about 26000 time and again.
I think the fans in that burg are always mad at the coach because they are mad that they live in such a hole
that said Tommy needed a recruiter cant get it done with JC players and transfers. but Bear Bryant would have failed there. AGAIN 26000 fans

McDonoughGator

November 18th, 2009
9:23 am

Great article Tony. I was blown away by Coach West’s press conference last week. He was honest, passionate, and direct. I wish he and his family the best.

Rick

November 18th, 2009
9:23 am

Tommy comes across as a Danny Ford/Ray Goff “Country Boy” kinda guy. In these day of college football, a pretty face and a well groomed voice seems to be a high priority in College football. Even more than winning in some cases.

George O’Leary or Ralph Freigen or even Frank Beamer would never get the Georgia or Alabama job. You’ve got to win 10 games a year but be pretty and an eloquent/political type as well. Mark Richt has two of three down. If he could coach he would be a 100% guy.

Paul Johnson is not that pretty and eloquent but he wins. Paul is a football coach. That will probably do.

Tommy West was perfect for a Memphis program. Firing him was really stupid. Ole Miss firing Cutcliff was stupid as well.

I would think a college coaching job would be a difficult job. Recruiting and coaching would be the easier part of the job. Putting up with the Michael Adams and Myles Brands would be he most difficult. Meyer has been lucky at UF to have Foley to protect him.

Anyway, Tommy does not fit the profiles of a “hot” coach noted above. A pretty school is probably s stretch. He can coach and will get a job somewhere. A Georgia Southern, Southern Miss, Middle tenn might be his best option.

Too bad. Memphis screwed up. College administrators know everything though.

lanier

November 18th, 2009
9:27 am

also Spook Murphy was my coach. The athletic center bears his name. one year we went 5-5 and some moron put a for sale sign in his yard

m

November 18th, 2009
9:28 am

Enter your comments here

1276jacket

November 18th, 2009
9:31 am

Good article. It’s good to know there is something besides wins ans loaaes.

RedKneckerson

November 18th, 2009
9:32 am

The local sports talk radio has eaten West alive,making fun of him etc. (especially those clowns that you are affiliated with at 790).I personally didn’t see a thing wrong with what he said after he was fired. To me he was simply saying,the locals and the media needed to get behind the program and quit running it down, or else you will never be able to recruit kids to play there.He is right.

Coach O

November 18th, 2009
9:34 am

@Rick: “George O’Leary or Ralph Freigen or even Frank Beamer would never get the Georgia or Alabama job.”

Actually, Frank Beamer has been on Alabama’s short list in their past few coaching searches. But I don’t mean to spoil your vitriolic attitude toward CFB — Carry on…

Thanks for a good article Tony. It’s important to remember sometimes that football is only a game.

reebok

November 18th, 2009
9:35 am

good article, thanks TB

Eric

November 18th, 2009
9:41 am

Tony this article sucks. I think they same person posted 20 complements.

jumbeauxtiger

November 18th, 2009
9:41 am

Nice article Tony and I am sure West will get picked. I have heard he is an excellent defensive coach.

I went to high school in suburban Memphis and their priority has always been on basketball so I don’t think they will ever keep anyone very long.

Geaux Tigers
Go SEC

killcasualfan

November 18th, 2009
9:41 am

Memphis is part of the myth called the “SEC weekly grind” where the SEC blithely proclaims a tough schedule . While the rest of the country is in the grind of their conference schedule at this time of year, most SEC schools have every other week off. LSU had a bye week Oct. 17, Tulane Oct. 31, LA Tech Nov. 14. All this while virtually playing nobody during September. Memphis played patsy for Ole Miss and as late as Nov. 7 for Tennessee.

Gen Neyland

November 18th, 2009
9:46 am

Tommy West is absolutely correct regarding football in Memphis. For instance, basketball is king and the good people of Memphis do love their basketball. Most fine players of football from the region have Arkansas, Mississippi, Big 12 schools etc etc to choose from and if they have talent, the grass is greener elsewhere. For the University of Memphis State (that’s what I call ‘em, okay) to make a big commitment to football will not be an easy task. Basketball comes first at Memphis and has for decades.

Elliot Ness

November 18th, 2009
9:47 am

Kill Cas, Memphis is not in the SEC.

Kid Ray

November 18th, 2009
9:49 am

Re: Recently fired coaches (Memphis, UNLV etc.) all seem to be complaining about the $$$. Aren’t their coaches winning the MWC and C-USa with similar budgets? This “its not my fault” is pretty lame.

Like I said earlier…nice guy, good AC, in over his head as a HC.

Gator Mike

November 18th, 2009
9:50 am

Tony, this is a great article about Tommy West who is a very good man. I have followed him since he was a player at UT because he was always a class act. From what I remember, he is a very good coach for the defensive side. He told the truth about Memphis, and he is a loss for them. Tommy West will be OK.

killcasualfan

November 18th, 2009
9:53 am

Elliot, of course memphis is not in the SEC. How you somehow thought that is remarkable. The point is they are another patsy for SEC schools who proclaim to have a “weekly grind” of a schedule. Thus memphis is part of that myth.

slick

November 18th, 2009
9:56 am

is it my imagination? or is it fact that ever since furman left you have really stepped it up. great column. keep it up.

Issac Bruce

November 18th, 2009
9:59 am

Tony,

Im from Memphis. I read your column everyday. This is an excellant story. The fans of Memphis have nothing but the up most respect for Tommy West.

Here's another one

November 18th, 2009
10:08 am

Tony, excellent story. You want another great story of why football is a great game, how it can bring together people to do good, read the ajc’s several stories about Greenville, Ga’s high school football team, playing in the layoff Friday against Bowden, I believe. Coach has ALS, coaching from a cart, can’t speak loudly so his players relay his instructions to one another…Read it, it’ll make you smile and cry at the same time.

al

November 18th, 2009
10:09 am

Tony, can Tommy coach defense? If so, tell Coach Richt he is available!

GeoffDawg

November 18th, 2009
10:11 am

Dr. H

November 18th, 2009
10:14 am

Another “right on” article. Class should always show…and be rewarded. Unfortunately, it usually takes an article reporting a demise like this. The “money people” at Memphis have never coached…never recruited…never developed a game plan. Their only tool is to place blame. Let’s see if they are smart enough to realize that monies have to be directed at football. Otherwise, enjoy the basketbakk game!! RH

Buzzfan®

November 18th, 2009
10:15 am

Funny is the role perception has played in college football coaching hires over the years.

I seem to recall hearing of how Wake Forest was once in search of a new head football coach and had been impressed with the resumé of one up-and-coming applicant, but the very Southern and very Baptist decision-makers surmised that the very Northern and very Italian-surnamed candidate just wasn’t quite the right fit.

I believe he found employment elsewhere and eventually ended up coaching the Green Bay Packers in a few big games.

Otto

November 18th, 2009
10:15 am

Sad to hear about Tommy and good for Toney.

I don’t know much about the politics about Memphis football but, he sounds correct. Hopefully Tommy can retire comfortably or find a job that allows him to do what he loves.

We can get back to the SEC schedule debate on Thursday, this is not the column.

Gator Nation

November 18th, 2009
10:16 am

Enjoyed the article Tony. Thanks.

Jake C.

November 18th, 2009
10:16 am

Native Memphian here.

I always read about how nice a guy Tommy West is. I’m sure he’s a nice man. A class act. All those things.

He’s also a lousy football coach. Sure, he’s gone to bowl games…any team with a .500 record goes to a “bowl game”. There are a thousand meaningless bowl games every winter featuring mediocre teams. I’m not impressed.

The reason he went to most of those bowl games had more to do with DeAngelo Williams than his playcalling.

Any coach who uses the screen pass as the crux of his offense is in trouble.

He’s made millions being mediocre, then complains that the Memphis media was negative, that people like basketball more, and that he didn’t get enough support.

SAVE IT, TOMMY. You had 9 years to figure it out and you never did.

I’m sure Turner Gill doesn’t have great facilities…but he wins. Same with hundreds of other coaches…including those Sun Belt Schools who embarrass Memphis on Saturdays.

But yeah…”he’s a nice guy.”

Coach O

November 18th, 2009
10:18 am

killcasualfan

November 18th, 2009
9:53 am
Elliot, of course memphis is not in the SEC. How you somehow thought that is remarkable. The point is they are another patsy for SEC schools who proclaim to have a “weekly grind” of a schedule. Thus memphis is part of that myth.

Memphis is an OOC opponent for exactly TWO SEC football teams, Tennessee and Ole Miss. Both of these are traditional rivalry games based upon regional proximity. Please list all of the non-SEC teams that have no un-ranked OOC opponents.

Otherwise, shut up and go to your corner to pout…

Bill Morgan

November 18th, 2009
10:21 am

Really enjoyed article on Tommy West.Live in North Carolina,but grew up in Ga. Coached in my hometown before moving here. Have been reading all the negative stuff concerning the Dawgs. The BIG e-mailers with all the solutions probably never played a down of football in their life. All they do is donate money and could care less about all the players and coaches that work their rear ends off to try to be successful! Walk a mile in their shoes!!!

Trade School Junkie

November 18th, 2009
10:23 am

I guess with his dawgs circling the drain, not much to write about today.

WilliamC

November 18th, 2009
10:25 am

Enter your comments here
Tommy West is a fine man. And ask the Georgie staff if West knew how to recruit when he was at Clemson. High school coaches loved the guy. Hope he lands in a good place.

I Bleed White and Old Gold

November 18th, 2009
10:30 am

I left Gainesville long before Tommy played there. But I was always happy to see a local boy do good. We never know what door will open next.

Good luck Tommy!

AHey, Coach O...

November 18th, 2009
10:31 am

“Actually, Frank Beamer has been on Alabama’s short list in their past few coaching searches. But I don’t mean to spoil your vitriolic attitude toward CFB — Carry on…”

And, he didn’t get the job despite being on the short list, now did he? So, the other poster is correct. Now, please apologize and….carry on!

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

November 18th, 2009
10:35 am

junkie, we”ll see on the 28th if Ga is “circling the drain”. Tech wins 9 games and buys rings for one win in a decade and they’re on top of the world. Tech football is a cesspool and their 200 fans are idiots

Hardy

November 18th, 2009
10:36 am

Anybody who uses “coach” in their nym, and there are several, need to present some ID. I’m pretty sure they are pretenders. No real coach would need to puff himself up like that.

Hardy

November 18th, 2009
10:39 am

“Tech football is a cesspool and their 200 fans are idiots” Chimps split off from the family tree about 8 million years ago. How did you get those chimp genes?

JB

November 18th, 2009
10:44 am

Martinez for head coach at Memphis……………………hey, he’s gotta eat.

G8R GRAD

November 18th, 2009
10:45 am

Great piece, Tony.
Maybe your best ever, at least to date.

OrlG8r

November 18th, 2009
10:48 am

Great article, Tony. It’s nice to put things into perspective this time of year. And it’s nice to have a good writer to do it.

Mitch

November 18th, 2009
10:49 am

Great story, I never knew that Tommy West was such a 1st. class guy.

Big Canoe

November 18th, 2009
11:07 am

A nice story. I’ve kind of followed West’s career when he was at Clemson…then I think he was at South Carolina…and on to Memphis. Memphis (until this year) was always a competive team in a tough arena. Hope he catches a star.

MoDawg

November 18th, 2009
11:07 am

When I heard the press conference I wanted to stand up and cheer the guy. While he was a coach, he was limited to what he could and could not say, but once they told him he would not be back, he let it rip. Good for him! I loved the fire and desire he conveyed in that press conference. He gave everyone hell from the administration to the fans.

My favorite part was when he said to “either put some money into it or do away with it!” (with regard to the football program). How many times do you think he wanted to say that over the past couple of years?!

Good for him! We need his fire at UGA!!

MoDawg

November 18th, 2009
11:12 am

*1 JG, welcome back to relevance for GT! Tell me, how was it going to Boise or out to Seattle back when your team was struggling to even make a “bowel”?? How did the “Choke-fil-A Bowel” work out for your team last year? Enjoy this little run while it lasts, ’cause it won’t last long.

Until then, though it’s hard to draw upon past experience, try to act like you’ve “been there” before! Your kind of fandom is a complete joke!!

Asst. Coach

November 18th, 2009
11:21 am

Tony West sounds like a good man, but he has proven not to be of head coaching material. Losing record at UT-Chattanooga, Clemson and now Memphis. Good man, but he couldn’t win consistently at CLEMSON. Come on, Clemson was one of the nation’s top jobs back when he was there. I know we all hate when a good person gets fired, but bottomline, he couldn’t win in the pathetic Conference USA.

LAKE OCONEE DAWG

November 18th, 2009
11:23 am

Jake C:
NOBODY WILL WANT THAT JOB…TURNER GILL WOULD BE AN IDIOT TO TAKE IT….IT WILL ALWAYS BE LOSERSVILLE BECAUSE FOOTBALL BOWS TO THE KING OF MEMPHIS, BASKETBALL….AND GOOD LUCK ON GETTING TO “THAT NEXT LEVEL”, BECAUSE IT WILL BE A LEVEL YOU WILL NEVER SEE IN YOUR LIFETIME….WONDER IF ANY OF THE ADMINISTRATORS WHO FIRED HIM WOULD LIKE TO TAKE THE JOB UNDER THE CURRENT CONDITIONS AND “TAKE THEM TO THE NEXT LEVEL”….THE MEMPHIS JOB WOULD MAKE BEAR BRYANT, VINCE LOMBARDI, AND ALL THE ALL TIME GREATS INTO A MEDIOCRE COACH…YOU SEEM TO HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS, WHY DON’T YOU MOSEY ON DOWN AND APPLY????? THE FOLLOWING QUOTE IS FOR YOU AND OTHER WANNABEES WHO SIT ON THE SIDELINES AND CRITICIZE….READ IT WELL….
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat….

Rebel Fan

November 18th, 2009
11:29 am

The thing is West told them the truth. If Memphis is going to be successful, they are going have to get off of the purse strings and spend on the football team. God knows, they aren’t high profile like the basketball team but when was the last time a Memphis football player was in the news making stupid decisions and getting in trouble. West did his job and Memphis canned him. Memphis is and always be pathetic until they learn that to be successful, you need to spend the money to be successful.

theTruth

November 18th, 2009
11:30 am

Tony, please tell that Mr. Nice Guy that he still owes Chattanooga the money for breaking his contract.

500k I believe is still on the table. He took the Clemson job and never paid a dime.

mexdawg

November 18th, 2009
11:31 am

This just in.Tennessee just announced that they will be changing their team colors from Orange to BLUE.They will also be changing their team name from the Tenn Vols to the Tenn CRIPS.Coach Lame clean program Kitten is asking all fans to wear their new colors to the game this week.

Billy

November 18th, 2009
11:32 am

I swear, UGA fans are just like the bullies on the playground. For years, they spew out hate and make fun, but once it starts happening to them, they whine about “act like you’ve been there before”. Whatever.

misterwax

November 18th, 2009
11:36 am

Tommy did get the short shrift at Clemson …just like Memphis…..but it’s hard to keep a good man down, he will catch on somewhere as a top assistant/head coach somewhere and continue to add value as a good coach….you can bank on that.

skeletons in the closet

November 18th, 2009
11:50 am

it is true, he did leave UT Chattanooga and never paid them a dime of what he owed them on the contract, I believe to be close to $500,000 and neither did Clemson….so…what goes around comes around

Tammy Bowden

November 18th, 2009
11:51 am

Well, you know what they say about Klempsin. Graveyard of coaches.

up and onward

November 18th, 2009
11:52 am

life will go on, here’s an insightful look’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8GuH9oDHrU

Coach O

November 18th, 2009
11:52 am

AHey, Coach O…

November 18th, 2009
10:31 am
“Actually, Frank Beamer has been on Alabama’s short list in their past few coaching searches. But I don’t mean to spoil your vitriolic attitude toward CFB — Carry on…”

And, he didn’t get the job despite being on the short list, now did he? So, the other poster is correct. Now, please apologize and….carry on!

Coach Beamer, in an interview earlier this season, admitted that he had been approached multiple times by Alabama and that he had told them that he preferred to remain at VA. Tech. Perhaps he was lying? I have no reason to believe that.

Martha White

November 18th, 2009
11:58 am

Enter your comments here

ZZ

November 18th, 2009
11:59 am

I bet ole Phil Fulmer would take that Memphis job.

The Walrus

November 18th, 2009
12:07 pm

IT’S PAINFUL!!

Coach O

November 18th, 2009
12:12 pm

With all due respect to Coach West, I do wonder who is on the short list to replace him. Tommy Tuberville publicly denied interest in the job last week. Will they go for Tommy Bowden, or will they shy away from Tommys altogether?

Any Memphis fans out there with connections that have a clue?

G8R GRAD

November 18th, 2009
12:12 pm

BTW, Tony:

Aren’t the Gainesville Red Elephants in the playoffs this year?

Class Acts

November 18th, 2009
12:21 pm

Thanks for the article. Well done!

Ain’t it a shame that nice guys finish last?

I thought Lloyd Carr’s remarks after getting canned at Michigan were classy, too. That’s one reason I have enjoyed watching Rich Rod twist and squirm, I guess.

And, going way back to another sport and another time (70’s), the media asked a Braves relief pitcher named Terry somebody what he thought when he got released and his quote was “life goes on”.

My favorite quote by a football coach upon getting fired, by Pepper Rogers: “My wife always said that any grown man whose job depended on an 18 year catching a football was a dern fool.”

Keith

November 18th, 2009
12:32 pm

He should vote with the legends! What a great idea tony. More stupid old men screwing up college football.

Jackson

November 18th, 2009
12:33 pm

Tony is a Class a ugag homer moron

lawzoo

November 18th, 2009
12:36 pm

West is a good guy but no matter where you are firing is a part of the deal. It’s not like he got 3-4 years and was out. If memory serves ,this was his tenth year. Longer than most coaches who lose.

Also, he was an asst. at Carolina before going to UTC and HC at clemson.
Not ever a HC at Carolina.(Poster above)

Old Dawg

November 18th, 2009
12:39 pm

You’re absolutely right about Tommy West. When my son was sick with leukemia he sent an autographed photo and a nice note during the middle of a football season.

The photo and note gave my son a real boost because someone he didn’t know cared enough to show a little kindness and compassion, something lacking from a lot of folks these days.

Man Ray

November 18th, 2009
12:41 pm

Kid Ray is right. Probably in over his head as a head coach? He took Memphis to four bowl games. Get that? Memphis. Geez.

GW

November 18th, 2009
12:45 pm

Memphis already interviewing folks, including UT Assistant Eddie Gran, formerly of Auburn. Sounds like they did West a favor. The next wonder of the world will be AJC bloggers staying on topic.

Mook6666

November 18th, 2009
12:46 pm

I lived in Tally, when Clemson announced Tommy Who? He had the similiar drawl of Fords’ alabama, But that was ALL he had. He had some of the best athletes Money could buy, but He , instead of making a name for himself, Rode around, Anderson, Easley, Greenville, in a chuffered auto, with a case of booze, “Checking out the Chicks”

Tommy West the Shame of Clemson. Hatfield had more morals, but Had the Rodeo on his mind and not Football. His famous quote when fired ” WE won the ACC and went 9-2, I guess I don’t understand what these People Want in a coach”
And so Another one Bites the Dust.

MoDawg

November 18th, 2009
12:56 pm

Billy, it sounds like you’ve had a few experiences with a playground bully or two in your day. There was some moron who called himself #1 Jeff George that I was responding to, but his comments must have been seen by Tony and removed because now it just looks like I was trying to be a “bully”, as you put it. That’s not the case. UGA is down this year, Tech is up. Tech beat UGA by 3 points for the first time in 8 consecutive tries and UGA has been hearing it ever since. Bragging rights for a year are one thing, but the vast majority of the garbage spewed by GT fans on here goes way beyond bragging rights, and straight down to idiocy.

UGA will be back, sooner rather than later. I just hope we get to see the best of both teams in a couple of weeks. Last year it went GT’s way and for that they are to be congratulated. The congrats went away a long time ago, though the idiots (and we all know who they are) hang around and beat their chests.

I’m just saying, if your team is that great, there’s no need to try and convince anyone else. The results on the field speak for themselves.

Tommy H

November 18th, 2009
1:02 pm

Like Allen, I knew Tommy when he was a kid. His Daddy was my Sunday School teacher for a while. His Dad was a classy guy, and Tommy turned out to be the same. Imagine that. Just as his Dad was a great role model for him, Tommy’s greatest contribution to college football is the fact that he has served as a role model for thousands of young people who had the good fortune to be around him. I suspect that if he wants to stay in that God-forsaken business, he could end up coaching somewhere else again…and I hope, for the sake of a lot of kids, that he does.

Eric

November 18th, 2009
1:05 pm

Always liked Tommy West. You’re right, he’s a class act. Thanks for the story. On another front, Saban to Notre Dame..and take that nacho nut with you.

FrozenGator

November 18th, 2009
1:18 pm

This is easy, thanks Tony

Brad

November 18th, 2009
1:19 pm

Hey Tony…

I seem to remember being pretty hard on you when you wouldn’t let go of the Brandon Spike/Urban Meyer/suspension thing a couple of weeks ago. I was a little annoyed with the ceaseless attention that whole thing got and I let you know about it since you decided to devote an entire week’s worth to such a non-issue.

However, judging by the above piece, it seems you’re back. Very. very good article Tony. The best you’ve done all year… I mean it.

Tech Fan

November 18th, 2009
1:29 pm

MoDawg, 100% agree with your last entry! Thanks for keeping it classy. Tech is up and UGA is down this year. We had a great win for our program last year and I hope it continues. Also, I hope UGA rebounds and Tech continues their success. Why wouldn’t UGA rebound? They will never be a mediocre team. It’s just a matter of time before they are contending for an SEC title again. If Tech can hold on to CPJ then we will be contenders for a long time. I would love to see the annual Tech/UGA game played with two highly ranked teams year in and year out. Good luck against UK and hope we beat you guys in a couple of weeks!

Got 12?

November 18th, 2009
1:34 pm

Rick,

Bama hired Mike Price, well kinda. Are you saying Mike Price is handsome?

Have you ever heard from Mike Dubose?

Got 12?

November 18th, 2009
1:37 pm

Eric,

If Saban goes to Notre Dame it’s because he’s visiting the College Football Hall of Fame.

One thing is for certain: He is going to Auburn next weekend. RTR

UT96

November 18th, 2009
1:52 pm

Tide Rising, the Memphis loss came in 1996, a dark day in Volunteer history, losing to Tiger high as we refore to it here in Knoxville. I pass on the the disparaging remarks about Memphis (the city) but they should sell it off to Arkansas or Mississippi:)

Tech fan

November 18th, 2009
1:53 pm

Wow!! you went to school where nesbit went to school!! Greene county tigers….

bibbs

November 18th, 2009
1:54 pm

not positive, but as i recall this class act walked from his buyout with UT-Chattanooga (to take Clemson job). Was never paid. I think he gave lip service to maybe scheduling a game between the two schools (i.e. big payoff for UTC) but it never happened. However, I did get the chance to meet him. Very nice guy. Class act is a stretch.

JaxDawg

November 18th, 2009
1:54 pm

Tony, thank you for sharing a positive story about the game. There are so many stories like this that never make the light of day as everyone seems so consumed with the latest scandal or controversy.
Well done, please give us more of these!!

DawginLex

November 18th, 2009
1:54 pm

Nice article about West being a class act.

Of course we all know you will never write an article involving class regarding any of the Tech posters like trade school, m, and yellow fuzz.

Rambler might be the exception because he at least acknowledges someone who has football knowledge. Macrotech is also a pretty cool guy and will converse with you cordially without spewing worthless venom.

UT96

November 18th, 2009
1:54 pm

Tide Rising, PS-we should know something about Janzen Jackson Thursday as KPD should have its investigation done by then.

reservoirDAWG

November 18th, 2009
1:55 pm

” as we refore to it here in Knoxville.” Wow!

UT96

November 18th, 2009
2:01 pm

Whatever, like you’ve haver made a typo on an internet blog jackass. “refer”

reservoirDAWG

November 18th, 2009
2:03 pm

two for two.

Memphis Dawg

November 18th, 2009
2:05 pm

Most people agree that Coach West is a nice guy, however, being a nice guy is no guarantee that you are a great coach. Memphis plays in a lousy conference thats affiliated with lousy bowl games. They can only recruit and get the players that the BCS schools turn away. The goal for Memphis is to get into a BCS conference in the near future to help recruiting but we all know how difficult that will be.
I am curious as to how many people that have posted a comment have seen Memphis play? I have! West has tried his best with what he had in regards to talent but his decisions, preparation and management of the game is weak. It was time for a change. Hopefully, Fred Smith (FEDEX) will put up the money needed to move this program forward.

RED ELEPHANT

November 18th, 2009
2:05 pm

We love T.West in Gainesville. Great article about a true class act!

GO BIG RED WIN STATE 2009!!!!!!!

Joe

November 18th, 2009
2:19 pm

Toney passed for 3 TDs in 2008. What do you mean he never scored a TD?

http://www.gotigersgo.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/toney_brett00.html

Delbert D.

November 18th, 2009
2:25 pm

” as we refore to it here in Knoxville.”

Actually, that’s pretty close to the way it’s pronounced in K’ville. I did one and a half years on 3 different field assignments up there. No, they weren’t prison sentences, before you ask.

Delbert D.

November 18th, 2009
2:29 pm

RED ELEPHANT – I missed Tommy West at Gainesville; that was my younger brother’s era to play against the Elephants. We never played them. Was he better than Jerry Paul at South Hall?

Got 12?

November 18th, 2009
2:30 pm

Got 12?

November 18th, 2009
2:32 pm

Before the Blog Cops issue a warrant for my arrest, I meant to type “SI’s” instead of “ESPN’s.”

Ethan

November 18th, 2009
2:33 pm

If you talk to most Memphis football fans they agree with Coach West and his comments after his firing. Actually most have been wanting to sat these things for years to an audience like he had that day. Our University Administration is a joke and they had promised him for years that he would receive bigger and better things. These things never came and Coach West kept asking privately. He is not the type of person to publicly mad mouth the administration and they knew it. His being such a class act is some that did but never should have gotten him fired. Our AD, RC Johnson, is a less than desirable AD. He only caters to the handful of big money people and ignores the rest of the fan base. Tommy is a class act and most Memphis fans were sad to see him leave . We also loved his departing comments because we have desperately needed those things to be said for years in a public setting.

Sautee Dawg

November 18th, 2009
2:35 pm

Memphis is the only loser in this deal.

Jake C.

November 18th, 2009
2:51 pm

@ Lake Oconee Dawg:

I never said Turner Gill would take the Memphis job, nor should he. I’m also well aware that basketball rules all in Memphis.

I’m not sure why you insist on typing in all caps.

It’s my right as a fan and observer to criticize. West gets paid for his supposed “expertise”. The “I’d like to see you try it” argument does not apply. He’s not doing pro-bono work here…he’s drawn a nice salary for being mediocre.

Memphis plays no one, and plays them poorly. Tommy West calls bad plays and does not properly prepare for opponents.

Nice guy, bad coach.

I did agree with him on one thing. Memphis either needs to do football right, or do away with the program altogether.

Washington-Wilkes Tiger 83

November 18th, 2009
3:19 pm

Excellent Read Tony. Kuddos.

Go GT Jackets!

Not Disappointed

November 18th, 2009
3:21 pm

Best of Luck to Tommy in the future. Good work Mr. CFB! Ramblin Wreck!

Bulldawg

November 18th, 2009
3:24 pm

Thanks, MCF! I never took the time to like Tommy West, until now.

DawginLex

November 18th, 2009
3:44 pm

Terry

November 18th, 2009
3:52 pm

All those are nice things, but the guy was just not a productive coach. First, the only reason he went to those bowl games was the expanded number of games (12). Next, he lost to Bowling Green, Florida Atlantic and South Florida. Locally he did not have very good relationships with the high school coaches. Recruiting was a joke during his tenure. DeAngelo came to Memphis because of a booster in Arkansas.Too much time on the golf course! Attendance at the games was horrible! Need anything else? Nice guy? Probably! Head Football Coach? No! No!

truth

November 18th, 2009
4:46 pm

did you hear how he blasted memphis after he was fired. class act my rear

jumbeauxtiger

November 18th, 2009
4:52 pm

Got 12?

Bowl Projections:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/stewart_mandel/11/15/bowl.projections/index.html?eref=sihp

I think he is wrong to believe that the Chick-Fil-A would pick Ark over UGA. That could happen if the Dawgs lose to UK and GT but if UGa is 7-5 and available, I just don’t see them passing up on a Clemson-UGa matchup.

D-Jacket

November 18th, 2009
5:08 pm

God bless you,Tony. We needed a story like that. And God bless Tommy West and Brett Toney.

Delbert D.

November 18th, 2009
5:23 pm

Terry – I know you want the job, but you’re probably staying at North Alabama.

Coach O

November 18th, 2009
5:27 pm

I wouldn’t count Terry out just yet Delbert. He’s probably on the short list. He’s done pretty well with the Lions, but it’s not like they weren’t doing well without him.

Delbert D.

November 18th, 2009
5:28 pm

Not if those are Terry’s interview points…

Delbert D.

November 18th, 2009
5:41 pm

Coach O – I used to follow the other division football teams when I lived in southern NJ. Temple wasn’t worth a hoot back then. Tubby Raymond’s son, Dave, was the punter at Delaware and he was the original Philly Phanatic. I had partial season ticket to the Phiilies games during 1977-79.

Coach O

November 18th, 2009
5:46 pm

Congrats on escaping NJ. My daughter attended U of Delaware while her husband was stationed at Dover AFB. Delaware’s nice enough, but I never cared much for Jersey.

Delbert D.

November 18th, 2009
6:29 pm

Coach O – The Middletown/Red Bank/Highlands area was nice enough; my in-laws lived in that area. We were well southeast of Philly, in Vineland. The big football experience down there was the Thanksgiving Day game between Vineland and Millville. On TV, no less.

Monty

November 18th, 2009
6:50 pm

Add coach Jeremy Williams, his family, Greenville High Patriots and the entire town of Greenville, GA to the list of Class Acts. God put these wonderful people on earth to help remind the rest of us what really is important.

Another Dawg

November 18th, 2009
7:04 pm

Dear Mr. Barhart,

Thank you for repeatedly posting inane anecdotes about the people you, for some reason certainly unrelated to either college football knowledge or quality journalism, have familiar contact with. They are almost always annoying. Putting in the Rudy QB is a great story for an irrelevant program. However, mouthing off at your exit press conference isn’t. That’s a classless act and a cop out.

Sincerely,
Someone who doesn’t care at all about Conference USA now that Memphis lost their only good coach to Kentucky.

Jimmy

November 18th, 2009
8:33 pm

I agree w/ Jake C. He was getting paid millions and then he whines when he gets fired? Please. I’d like to get that deal!

Also, the comments he made about how the local media should “help him” instead of bashing him in their articles are a joke. The media is suppose to tell it like it is. If youre doing a bad job, the media should say so. It’s not their job to be the universities PR firm. They have their own dept. for that.

CU fan in Kennesaw

November 18th, 2009
8:33 pm

I like it, great story Tony!

Tide Rising

November 18th, 2009
8:45 pm

UT96,

It will be interesting to see what happens to Janzen Jackson. I’m hearing completely different stories as to whether or not he was aware of what his friends were doing. Of the 3 he was certainly the most talented. He was rated 4 star by most recruiting svcs and possibly 5 star by one of the recruiting services. I think he was a starter when we played UT earlier and with all the playing time he accumulated this year it looked to me like he was going to end up a pro for certain in the future.

Jimmy

November 18th, 2009
8:45 pm

Oh, and he also implored the local fans to “take a friend” to the games. Why would anyone want to pay their hard earned money to see that train wreck of a program? So he can get paid millions for doing a horrible job?? No thanks.

Tony, if you want us to feel sorry for someone, write an article on an average person who gets laid off his job in which he was barely able to support his family in anyway. Good grief.

Tide Rising

November 18th, 2009
8:49 pm

Jumbeaux tiger,

I haven’t seen those bowl projections yet but I would have a hard time seeing Ark in the peach bowl just because Ark travels so poorly. I remember whenever they won the division they had little fan support in the Georgia Dome.

For Georgia to get into the Peach I think they have to win out and even then it seems like the Peach would want a 3 loss team. I just can’t see the Peach taking a 4,5 or 6 loss Georgia time despite the draw they would get from having a home state school play. I guess we’ll just have to see.

SC Rules!!!

November 18th, 2009
9:10 pm

Tony,

Thank you for the great article; it is always good to see/hear about someone who is doing the right thing even when no one is watching. Sadly Coach West was stuck at a BBall shool pretending to have any interest in football. Hmm, kinda reminds me of someone else I’ve heard of who coached a little ball in his day. (Coach Bryant @ Kentucky “under” Adolph Rupp) I’ll never forget reading (Southern Fried Football) and the story of the post season award banquet at UK when Coach Bryant was given a lighter and Rupp a Caddy. Right then and there Coach Bryant KNEW he needed a change of scenery. BBall schools (UK, Memphis etc…) almost NEVER support the football program.
Hopefully Coach West will find a new challenge/opportunity on another sideline.

Fight On!!

Starring Peter Graves as Capt. Clarence Over

November 18th, 2009
9:41 pm

Tide Rising: You must have meant DeAngelo Williams, not MeAngelo Hall. Hall played at Va. Tech.
Kam Fong: Don’t you have to take McGarrett to get his hair teased?

Beered up dawwwgs fan

November 18th, 2009
10:04 pm

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

GHS fan for life

November 18th, 2009
10:20 pm

Tommy West is a class act. He’s one of the best athletes I’ve ever seen. He crushed a baseball home run farther than anyone ever hit one in Gainesville. He’s one of our native sons and we’re proud of him. He’s the kind of son any father would like to have. I hope he gets another chance somewhere. He’s not just a good coach, he’s a quality person.

Mark, I enjoy reading your articles more than any other sportswriter anywhere. I like the honest, the variety and the way you put comments on the message board. The AJC needs to recognize you and give you a raise. You remind me of Furman Bisher. I can’t wait to read what you write.

Bear Bryant

November 18th, 2009
10:45 pm

Furman Bisher? Is that a complement? Didnt he bankrupt a local paper with his bull $hit story on the Bear fixing games???

Red Dog 77

November 19th, 2009
12:12 am

Tony, you and coach West are what football is all about, not just college football, but the very core of the game . Both of you gentlemen get it, I played it , and know from experience that it is truely a gentlemans sport, Thanks guys…..Red

Rick

November 19th, 2009
1:02 am

As another poster has noted, Coach Beamer, a fantastic coach, was not hired at Bama or Georgia.

UTENN hired Kiffie who is much prettier than Coach Fulmer at 60. However, I think UT should fire Lane and put his wife on the sideline. Now I would watch those games.

See Lane has recruited some questionable character kids but he has great taste in selecting his women.

Pretty is not all bad!

Coach O

November 19th, 2009
11:58 am

Rick,

We agree regarding Layla’s hawtness. As for Beamer — he’s where he wants to be. Don’t quite understand why that bothers you so? Are you actually a football fan, or are you just into checking out the coaches?