It was reported earlier today that Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks Randy Fichtner or former Arizona head coach Mike Stoops had emerged as the two front-runners for the Memphis head-coaching job.
As it turns out, and what constitutes as the first real surprise development of the 2011 coaching carousel, neither of those three have landed with the Tigers as Larry Porter‘s replacement.
Instead, that honor goes to TCU co-offensive coordinator Justin Fuente. According to Scout.com, Fuente has been hired as the Tigers’ new coach and will be introduced tomorrow at a press conference. The Memphis Commercial Appeal subsequently confirmed the hiring, noting that Fuente’s “name hadn’t surfaced [as a potential candidate] from the time the University of Memphis began its search for a new football coach more than a week ago.”
In a release issued Wednesday night, Memphis would only confirm that a press conference would be held at 1 p.m. ET to introduce the new head football coach.
Much like with the embarrassingly laughable situation at Arizona State earlier today, however, the search for a new head coach that led to the press conference didn’t come without its own major, unexpected hiccup. Only this time around, it was the school on the receiving end of a surprise snub; McElwain had reportedly accepted the U of M’s offer Wednesday, but then backed out of it for unknown reasons.
The Birmingham News writes that McElwain had been “angling for a strong commitment from Memphis toward financial backing toward facilities, and a coaching staff.” It’s unclear if that played a role in his decision to allegedly renege on accepting the job.
Fuente has been at TCU since 2007, and has been the co-coordinator since 2009. In addition to his coordinator duties, Fuente is also the Horned Frogs’ quarterbacks coach.
Earlier this year, Fuente was a candidate for the coordinator job at LSU that ultimately went to Steve Kragthorpe. As you no doubt know by now, a Parkinson’s diagnosis forced Kragthorpe to step aside as the play-caller for the top-ranked Tigers in early August.