Justin Fuente was confident that he could turn around the Memphis football program when he took over in 2012. Now at Virginia Tech, opens up about his previous job.
Becoming a head coach for the first time is an overwhelming experience littered with more responsibilities than most can imagine. It can be even tougher when taking over a program that has long struggled on the field and been unable to create a winning atmosphere.
This was all true of Memphis when Justin Fuente decided to leave his position as co-offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at TCU to become the head man for the Tigers in December of 2011. However, Fuente was sure that he was making the right move for both him and the Memphis program.
“I believed in the people that were determined to go make it right,” Fuente told the Seth Davis Show. “They had literally reached rock bottom.”
Memphis had struggled mightily in the four years before the arrival of Fuente, putting up a record of 11-38 and playing in front of sparse crowds in the Liberty Bowl. Fuente was ready for the challenge.
“I knew we’d have obstacles, but I felt like we were in a location where we had a chance to win.”
It was a process, as the Tigers finished 4-8 and 3-9 respectively in the first two seasons of Fuente’s tenure, but a breakthrough happened in 2014, as the Tigers went 10-3, won the Miami Beach Bowl, and finished in the AP Top 25 for the first time in school history.
A 9-3 season followed, and unfortunately for Memphis, Virginia Tech came calling with an offer for Fuente to replace the outgoing Frank Beamer, a Hokie legend.
Fuente may have accepted the job in Blacksburg, but not before leaving the Tigers in much better shape than he found them.