MEMPHIS — Memphis fired head coach Larry Porter on Sunday morning after going 3-21 in two seasons leading his alma mater.
The university announced Porter’s dismissal in a release. Porter’s firing came just hours after Saturday’s 44-7 loss at Southern Mississippi, leaving the Tigers 2-10 this season. Fan interest in the program has been diminishing, including an estimated 2,500 for the Tigers’ home finale against Marshall on Nov. 17. That increased pressure for a change.
“The expectations for the 2011 season were to see marked improvement in the team,” Memphis Athletic Director R.C. Johnson said in a statement. “Now that the season has been completed, I do not feel that we have seen enough improvement for the future to justify keeping this football staff in place for another year.”
There was no immediate timetable for hiring Porter’s replacement. The university has scheduled a press conference for Monday. Johnson and University President Dr. Shirley Raines will discuss the future of the athletic program and a plan for naming a new coach “as quickly as possible,” according to the release.
Porter played running back at Memphis from 1990-93. He was hired Nov. 29, 2009, to replace Tommy West after a 2-10 season.
He came to Memphis after spending five years on the LSU coaching staff under Les Miles where he had a reputation as one of the top recruiters in the nation.
Those recruiting successes did not translate to coaching successes.
“We want to thank coach Porter for his efforts as our football coach but believe that it is in the best interest of our program to make a change at this point,” Johnson said. “We were proud to have Larry Porter, one of our former football lettermen, as our head coach and wish him nothing but the best in his future athletic endeavors.”
After a disappointing 2010 season, the pressure to replace Porter grew early this season fueled by a 47-3 loss at Arkansas State in the second game. A 27-6 win against FCS-team Austin Peay helped, but the Tigers won only one more game— 33-17 against Tulane in New Orleans.
By that point, the Tigers’ fan based had lost interest, and those still following the team were frustrated when Memphis blew fourth-quarter leads against UAB and Marshall in the season’s closing weeks.
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