With a coaching search comes coaching candidates, and Memphis’ Mike Norvell, is among the youngest of any getting looks for high-profile jobs. The 36 year old has an offensive mind that could bring Tennessee’s talent out on that side of the ball while maintaining the defense as they are.
With Tennessee’s job open, Norvell could be a name that fits right into what the university is looking for, an offensive mind that can bring the sputtering Tennessee offense back to a well-oiled machine. If John Currie called on the young coach, Norvell could bring his successful 16-6 record to Knoxville and bring back a winning tradition to Tennessee.
Norvell has made former Tennessee quarterback Riley Ferguson a star for the Tigers, taking them as high as No. 21 in the College Football Playoff rankings. Norvell is someone that Tennessee has needed: a head coach who can develop a quarterback into a star. For the past five years, the Vols’ quarterbacks have been stagnantly the same (excluding the beautiful last two years Josh Dobbs improvised). To have someone who can develop his offensive and defensive players spells great things for the university if it was in the cards.
He’s 16-6 in two years at the helm and has Memphis is a position of competitiveness against Power Five opponents. Norvell knows how to coach and how to get his players to produce. It’s only a matter of time before he gets looks from other major conference schools, but Tennessee could have an advantage now by getting an early scoop on a potential budding star.
Norvell is relatively young for head coaches, and he could be in for the long haul if hired to a Power Five school. Not only does he get his recruiting done right, he also develops his players into stars, something else that would contrast the recent years in Knoxville.
The biggest strike against Norvell to Vols’ fans is that this would be another Group of Five head coaching hire. Tennessee fans would be none too pleased if Currie went out and hired a new, unproven head coach from a smaller school to fight in the SEC that has multiple powerhouse teams right now.
To go along with the distrust of a Group of Five head coach, Norvell’s defenses have never been quite top tier. This season, Memphis he has given up an average of 31.2 points per game. Although he may have only lost one game, he hasn’t particularly had a hard schedule — the Tigers’ toughest game came against a UCLA team that couldn’t stop a snail, and it looks less impressive of a win each week. Oh, and that’s not to mention their only loss came in the fashion of a 40-13 whopping at the hands of Scott Frost and UCF.
The lack of competition that Norvell faces would put worry in any Tennessee fan because it’s almost a carbon copy of Butch Jones’ resume.
Would Norvell be able to compete in games and recruit against the SEC’s best head coaches? Maybe not. He is unproven at that level, and that leaves as sense of skepticism when it comes to evaluating him.
Mike Norvell is a decent head coach who could potentially be a big name in the future. He still needs to prove himself, but Tennessee might just be the opportunity he needs. Don’t let my higher-end ranking fool you, however; he still has to grow up quickly should John Currie hire him. That and he’ll have to win over the fans who are still rowdy from the lasting performance from a Group of Five head coach.
HIRE RANKING: 6/10