Tigers Hire New Defensive Coordinator
Jan. 14, 2000
Memphis, TN - The University of Memphis has hired former Clemson head coach Tommy West to replace John Thompson as the defensive coordinator for the Tigers. West, who served as the head football coach at Clemson University for six years, posting a record of 31-28-0, was approved by the U of M to the Tennessee State Board of Regents to fill the position of defensive coordinator.
"Tommy West will be a great addition to our staff," Memphis head coach Rip Scherer said. "He not only has served as a head coach at a tradition rich school such as Clemson, but he has worked with outstanding defenses throughout his career.
"Our defense showed marked improvement this past season (ranked 23rd in the nation) and I see it getting nothing but better next year. Tommy has always had his defensive units play with a very aggressive style and we plan to continue that brand of football here at Memphis."
West was Clemson's head coach from 1993 through the 1998 season. He led the Tigers in post season bowl appearances four times during his tenure as head coach and his defensive units were consistently ranked the nation's best. His resume as the head coach included four wins over Associated Press Top 25 teams and the 1998 Peach Bowl invitation marked Clemson's third consecutive year in a bowl game. West became just the second coach in Clemson football history to take the Tigers to three straight bowl games.
A native of Carrolton, Georgia, West began his coaching career in 1977 as a graduate assistant at Tennessee, his alma mater. He left Tennessee in 1978 to become a coach at White County High School in Sparta, Tennessee, before being hired as running backs coach at Ole Miss in 1979.
In 1980 he moved to Appalachian State University as receivers coach and became the offensive coordinator in 1981 before returning to Clemson in 1982 as outside linebackers coach. Between 1982 and 1989, West played an important role in helping the Tigers to a 69-20-4 record and six Associated Press Top 20 rankings. Clemson appeared in five bowl games during the eight year span and claimed four ACC championships.
Clemson's defense was ranked fifth in the nation in total defense in 1989 and four of his outside linebackers went on to careers in the NFL including Levon Kirkland and Wayne Simmons.
In 1990 West returned to his alma mater, Tennessee, as running backs coach and in 1991 was hired as co-defensive coordinator at South Carolina. He stayed with the Gamecocks for two seasons prior to being named the head coach at UT-Chattanooga in 1993.
In December of 1993, West was named as the head coach at Clemson, replacing Ken Hatfield as the head coach for the Peach Bowl game in Atlanta, Georgia.