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Scherer says goodbye to team after 4-7 season
Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis football coach Rip Scherer was fired Monday after failing to collect a single winning record in six seasons with the Tigers.

The decision came after Memphis closed the season at 4-7 Saturday with a 37-14 loss at Tulane. It was the Tigers' fifth straight loss.

Athletic Director R.C. Johnson said Scherer has run "a first-class operation with no hint of impropriety" and called him "one of the classiest individuals" he has worked with.

"... But the bottom line in this business is winning games," Johnson said at a news conference.

Scherer said later at a news conference of his own that the Tiger program was improving under his leadership and he was disappointed by Johnson's decision.

"I don't agree with it, but I understand it," Scherer said.

Johnson said a search for a new coach will begin immediately with a list of six to 12 potential candidates. He declined to give names.

Johnson said donors have pledged the money needed to buy out the three years left on Scherer's contract, which is worth about $230,000 annually.

Scherer, 48, came to Memphis in 1995 from James Madison and posted a 22-44 record in six seasons.

The Tigers were 4-2 early this season, sparking many Memphis fans to talk about their first winner with Scherer and perhaps even a bowl bid. Then the Tigers lost their last five games.

Scherer said his personal plans were uncertain but he would like to stay in college coaching.

"I'm not sure what I want to do yet," he said.

At James Madison, Scherer led the Division I-AA school to a 29-19 record from 1991 to 1994.

He replaced Chuck Stobart who had led Memphis to 6-5 seasons in 1992, 1993 and 1994. Despite those winners, university administrators said Stobart's program failed to generate fan excitement.

Scherer was billed as a coach who could field an exciting team but that never came about. His Tigers, with an offense that consistently stumbled, often came close to victory only to lose by a few points.

This season alone, the Tigers lost to the University of Alabama at Birmingham by four points, to Houston by three points in triple overtime, to Tennessee by two points and to Cincinnati by three points in overtime.

Johnson said he wants to select a new coach as soon as possible and wants a strong recruiter who has worked in Division I-A as a head coach or top assistant.

"I think this is a good job and a doable job and I think we've got a lot of things in place to get us ready to start winning some more games," Johnson said.

Coaching changes