Transcript from Memphis Football Press Conference
Go Tigers!
Go Tigers!

Go Tigers!

Nov. 29, 2009

University of Memphis President
Dr. Shirley C. Raines

Thank you. Good afternoon and welcome to Rose Theatre on our beautiful campus. It's a great day to welcome two Tigers back to the city of Memphis and to our campus--our new head coach and his wife Sharmane. Mrs. Porter we are glad you are here as well, and we look forward to meeting your three children when they can be on campus.

Today's a great day to welcome a new leader onto our campus. I'm sorry that this is the weekend that we have to introduce him because this is the weekend that all of the students went away for Thanksgiving and they are coming back. So coach, you are going to see a lot of our fans but not as many of our students because they are all driving back.

Welcome to our campus, and I look forward to this great introduction. I've been very pleased with my interviews with our coach and excited about what the future may bring. In just a moment, you are going to be able to hear from him. The last words I would like to say is, Go Tigers!

University of Memphis Athletic Director
R.C. Johnson

Thank you very much Bob (Winn), and thank all of you for being with us today. It is a very exciting time, and we appreciate you taking your time to spend a Sunday afternoon with us. I want to take just a couple of moments and pay some tributes and thanks to where they need to go.

I think most of you in here contacted me at some point or another with a coaching candidate, and I thank all of you for the suggestions. I appreciate it. There were an awful lot of people interested and an awful lot of people involved. I've always said there aren't any bad ideas; some are just better than the others. The commitments and involvement you all made during this search are gratifying for me, and I do thank you for that.

I want to thank the candidates. As most of you know, read or heard, we visited with eight, all very good candidates. I appreciate all the candidates that were involved. I also want to thank many of you in the audience today--the people I confide in and the people I bounce ideas off of. And especially, I want to thank the staff. The athletic staff has spent a lot of time contributing to this over the past few weeks. The associate athletic directors Bob Winn, Lynn Parkes, Bill Lofton, Bill Lansden, Lish Trice, Judy Gupton--the list goes on and on. I appreciate all that they did.

 

 

I said three weeks ago that I wanted to get the best available candidate in the least amount of time. I think we have done that. We have a young man that coached high school in Memphis. We have a young man that started his coaching career at UT Martin. He then went to Arkansas State. He then went to Oklahoma State, then to LSU. We have a young man that happens to be an alumnus, and his wife happens to be an alumna. I will also say this--and I don't know this, but I was told by the candidate--he was a pretty good running back. I've always said, and again, when you get down to it, you look for energy and enthusiasm. Larry has those.

When it gets down to it, the final last thing that you have to do is to decide if you would want this young man to come into your house and talk to your son about playing football for him. That's the final criteria I use. And let me say this, Melba and I would be honored to have one of our sons play for him. Our new head football coach, Larry Porter.

University of Memphis Head Football Coach
Larry Porter

First of all, I just want to thank God for this blessing. I would like to thank my wife and my family for supporting me unselfishly. I have spent a lot of time from home, and they have allowed themselves to thoroughly immerse themselves into what I do for a living. I can't thank them enough. I want to thank my wife again; thank you Sharmane for supporting me.

I'd like to thank Dr. Raines and R.C. Johnson for the trust and opportunity to lead this football program. I'd also like to thank Tommy West. I thought he left a foundation here that allows us to be successful. I think his legacy here should be one that stands for a long time and one that we should always admire.

I want to thank the city of Memphis, Shelby County, all the alums and friends that I have for supporting me and bringing me back home.

The Memphis job is the perfect job in the perfect place for me. I understand the Memphis brand. I believe in it unconditionally. I have a conviction, a passion about it and a vision that allows me to walk into homes and into this community, talk to the student body, the faculty and get them to believe in that vision simply because I'm motivated to get this program to the next level.

In saying that, I want you to understand that we're all in this together. I do not want you to follow me; I want you to join me in taking Memphis football to a championship level. I think the Memphis job is a diamond in the rough that is waiting to sparkle.

Now if you would allow me, I think there's about four components that I feel are essential to putting in place to have a championship program. First and foremost is discipline. I think discipline will be our foundation. Discipline on the field; discipline off the field; a discipline work ethic and discipline in academics as well.

The second component is recruiting. We all know that it is the lifeblood of the program. But at the same time, just recruiting talent is not enough. We have to recruit character. We have to recruit guys that when they leave this program they will represent us in a way that we're proud of.

And then academically. The one thing that I am very, very proud of is that academically we're solid here. I think I have a plan in place to enhance that. When I walk into homes and I start talking academics, which I think is a very, very important factor-it's one that as a coach I will fully embrace; it's one that as a coach I will challenge my players every single day that they will be the best that they can be and I know in talking with Dr. Raines, it's something that she firmly believes in and above all we have a great academic institution.

Then you talk about the strength and conditioning program, which I think is just as critical in hiring as any hire that I can make for one reason. I think that our strength and conditioning program, our strength and conditioning coach has to be one that believes in the same things that I believe in. He also has to be one that believes in upholding academics. He also needs to be one that when you talk in terms of recruiting not just talent but being able to develop that talent and take it to the next level as opposed to getting guys that we know can help our program but for some reason we're not getting them where we want them. I think that as time goes on, we've got that guy and I think you'll see that.

The other think I want to say and I want to make sure we understand this is that you have given me a great responsibility. I look forward to upholding this responsibility and giving you something to be very, very proud of. But at the same time, I want us to fight for what's right. What's right is this university, this football program deserves to be champions. So let's march forward and let's be champions.

Q: Will you start immediately are will you stay with LSU through their bowl game?
No. I look forward to hitting Memphis city high schools tomorrow morning.

Q: Can you give us some idea about anybody you might be hiring on your staff?
Well the key is this, I don't want to hire a staff quickly. I want to hire a great staff. I think that takes time because some of the guys I have interest in and some of the guys that have interest in this job are still playing. Some of them are playing in championship games and some of them will be playing in bowl games. So I think it will take me through the bowl games to allow me to hire a staff. If you would, please be patient. Just know that I'm looking forward to hiring some guys that will represent this university in a quality fashion. Guys that will get the best out of our student-athletes, and guys that you can trust and you can rely on in terms of character, family men and guys that represent the university.

Q: We've seen a lot of talented players from this area leave and go to other programs. How do you convince them to stay here?
Well first of all, my plan is to raid the city of Memphis. There are a lot of kids that really want to stay home. Again, the conviction, the passion and the vision that I have for this program, I'm thoroughly convinced that I can get them to believe in that vision. I basically have identified 10 guys, five of which I know have legitimate BCS, SEC offers that are very, very open to coming to the University of Memphis. The other five we will have to fight for, but I know there is a chance that we can get them on visits. We've got other people in the community that I know will support us and hopefully we can get those other five. All in all, we have a great product. Let's not undersell it. Let's go forward in letting them know this is a great university, this is a great city surrounded by great people. That will be the difference in your future. I'm a living witness. I'm a product of the University of Memphis. I don't think they need to look any further than myself when you talk about when I graduated from the University of Memphis, my first job was from a Memphis alum. I feel very strongly that this community was very much a part of why you are bringing me back. So the support of being home means a lot. The saying that there is no place like home, I believe it; I'm at home.

Q: How quickly when you heard about this opening at Memphis were you saying I want this job?
About two years ago. I've shared this story with a number of people. But, the night the University of Memphis played in the national championship game (April 2008) just happened to be the same night we (LSU Football) were being congratulated by the President for winning the national championship. And, I will never forget because on one hand I was so proud of my alma mater. But, on the other, I couldn't help but think football could be just as good. And, I believe that. And, I went to bed with that vision in my mind. Last night, I probably only slept for about two hours thinking about that same vision of being a championship quality program. I still believe that will happen. And, if I believe it then I can convince others to believe it. And again, we are all in this together. Whether it is the community, our student athletes, or the media--I think that if we are all in it together, there is only one way to go, and that's up.

Q: Memphis has run the spread offense for many years. What is your offensive philosophy?
I want to be multiple. Also, I want to be balanced. I don't necessarily mean a 50/50 type thing, but I want the defense to have to defend the entire length of the field, and there's a number of ways to do that. But, more importantly, I think there are certain components to being able to win a championship. I think one of those is being able to run the ball, and you have to be able to stop the run. I am into having an offense that lends itself to our talent, not necessarily a system in terms of spread or two back. And, that's because I can say I'm going to run the spread but if I don't have the talent to do it, then you struggle. The press, in terms of trying to win, is now. I'm building, but I'm pursuing excellence. I want to cater to my talent. And, then I will go one way or the other once I get the talent I need in here. In terms of my offense, I want to be balanced and be able to run the ball, but still be able to throw also. I just want to be able to cater to my talent as opposed to a system.

Q: What do you think you need in terms of support from the University and the community?
Well, with me leading this program, the first thing I want to change is the attitude of our players. I think there's a certain attitude that you need, and that's a championship attitude. We have to change the culture to make sure the guys are invested in a helmet. And, when you talk about being invested in a helmet, you have to make some sacrifices. Now, we have a lot of great things going on around here. We have a new turf field going in. We have a weight room that's just been approved. There's been a lot of talk about an indoor facility. I think we're getting the support from the community. I think we just need to pull together, make sure we're all on the same page, and go forward.

Q: What makes you ready to be a head coach?
Well, I think my career path has more than prepared me to be a head coach. I understand the difference between winning and losing. I know that I put myself in a position to share some of the responsibilities. I've been blessed to be under coaches that have been willing to share some of the responsibilities of being a head coach. At the same time, I believe that there's no seminar, no books you can read. I look at guys like Urban Meyer and Derek Dooley that have never been a coordinator. The fact that I have had the opportunity to pursue the position of a head coach before ever being a coordinator is truly a testament to my abilities as a coach, more so than anything.

Q: Have you had any time to assess the talent coming back or meet with any of the players?
Not as of yet. I've been as far as breaking down the roster to see where the deficiencies are so that we can go out and recruit to fill the gaps. I look forward to meeting with the team tomorrow if we can get it all organized.

Q: What's one of the most important things you have learned coaching under Les Miles?
His passion for football. You're talking about a family man, a football coach, and a man of God. And, he didn't have any hobbies, but he had a passion for football. That's what I've taken from Les. He's a very sincere guy, and he's very passionate about football.

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