The Time Is Now For Tiger Football

Ryne E. HancockCorrespondent ISeptember 15, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 21:  Head coach Tommy West of the Memphis University Tigers calls a play against the Florida Atlantic University Owls in the New Orleans Bowl on December 21, 2007 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

About a month ago, a hayseed from Texas tried to test my fan-hood, something that in a city like Memphis, is somewhat hard to do.

"You can't like Memphis basketball and dislike their football team," he said to me via the wonder that is Facebook.

"Yes I can," I replied, "You're not from here, so your opinion doesn't matter. Memphis football has sucked for years. No one really gives a crap about them."

In the 22 years that my mother, Joyce Hancock, has worked for the school, the Tigers have enjoyed only eight winning seasons in football since she began working there in 1987.

Take that same time span of 22 years with Tiger basketball and you get 20 post-season appearances, including the 2007-08 Final Four season, six Sweet 16s, four Elite Eight's, and three NIT Final Fours.

What does that tell you?

The University of Memphis know exactly where their monies are coming from, and unfortunately it's not the football program.

No friggin' duh.

It's quite clear that while the administration have made strides to improve the basketball program during the Calipari era, and attract big-name prep stars to come to the Bluff City, the same couldn't be said about football.

Tiger football, sadly, has been filled with players that teams from the BCS didn't want mainly because they didn't have the grades to qualify for schools like Arkansas, Tennessee and Ole Miss.

Just saying.

After DeAngelo Williams played his last game in 2005, West didn't get anyone close to the calibre of a star like DeAngelo.

Instead of building relationships with coaches in the Memphis area, West and his staff shut most of them off, although players like Brandon Patterson of Germantown High School, Joseph Doss of Melrose High School, and Marcus Hightower from my alma mater, Whitehaven High School, have had some success.

But it still hasn't translated into wins and most importantly, conference championships.

In the 13 years that Conference USA has sponsored football, Memphis are the only program who have not win a conference title.

Even Tulsa and Central Florida, newcomers to the league, have won conference championships.

So have Tulane, who won their title in 1998 under Tommy Bowden and finished ranked seventh in the nation, and they play in a sterile dome that can't sell out for their games.

So Coach West, don't give me that facilities crap when you say that facilities cost you the game.

Tulsa and Rice have two of the smallest enrolments in Division One, and they find a way to be competive, so enrolment shouldn't be an excuse.

What is the problem then?

The football program has been run as nothing more than a hobby at the University of Memphis.

That's right, a hobby.

And until they realize that running a football program isn't a hobby, then they won't get the picture.

Until then, the state that Memphis football finds itself in, like or not, will remain just what it is, a hobby.