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Memphis introduces Mike Norvell as new head coach

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis' athletic director said new coach Mike Norvell is the "perfect person" to lead the football program and brings a high-octane offense that will help continue the Tigers' momentum.

"I believe Mike Norvell will continue to build upon our success and create even greater standards of competitive excellence for our program for years to come," athletic director Tom Bowen said at a news conference Friday.

Bowen introduced Norvell just six days after Justin Fuente left for Virginia Tech. Fuente was 26-23 in four seasons, reviving a Memphis program largely ignored in its own town after posting a 5-31 record the three seasons before his arrival.

Norvell, 34, was deputy head coach and offensive coordinator at Arizona State. He said it's his responsibility now to help Memphis take the next step, making this the right program for his first job as head coach.

"This is the perfect time, and this is the perfect place," Norvell said. "There's a lot of opportunities that have been discussed in my coaching career of places that I could've gone, of people I could've went and led. But I was in such a great situation it had to be right. It had to be all about the fit and all about the family."

Norvell takes over a program that has won 19 games the past two seasons, including an American Athletic Conference championship in 2014 that was the program's first in 43 years. The Tigers capped that season with an overtime win over BYU in the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl and finished 25th in the Top 25 for the first end-of-season ranking in Memphis' history.

Memphis finished this season 9-3 with an offense ranked 12th in the nation and seventh in scoring at 42.7 points a game.

Norvell would seem to have the credentials to maintain that offensive character with the Tigers. Under his direction as coordinator, the Sun Devils (6-6) ranked 23rd in the country in total offense at 473.8 yards a game and 40th in scoring at 34 points a game.

"I am so proud of Mike and the career he has forged for himself," Arizona State coach Todd Graham said in a statement. "Mike and I have been together for nine years, since I hired him as a graduate assistant at the University of Tulsa, including the past four years here at ASU. Together, we won 34 games and will have appeared in four straight bowl games."

Norvell worked under Graham with stops at Tulsa, Pitt and Arizona State. He played collegiately at Central Arkansas, where he was a four-year starter at receiver and left as the program's all-time leader in receptions.

He brings to the Tigers a background very similar to Fuente's as a young, offensive-minded coach who served as offensive coordinator at a high-scoring, major conference program. Fuente was TCU's co-offensive coordinator when hired by Memphis in 2011.

Memphis had initially focused on Missouri defensive coordinator Barry Odom, a former Tigers assistant under Fuente, but Odom was named Missouri's head coach Thursday. Norvell's name did not arise as a possible replacement until Thursday night, when university president David Rudd wrote on Twitter that Memphis had hired a new coach.