Justin Fuente Named Head Football Coach
MEMPHIS, TENN. -- University of Memphis President Dr. Shirley C. Raines today announced that Justin Fuente has been hired as the 23rd head football coach for the Memphis Tigers in a press conference held at the Penny Hardaway Hall of Fame Assembly Room on the U of M campus.
Fuente has agreed to a five-year contract with guaranteed compensation of $900,000 in 2012. The contract also calls for incentive compensation based on performance.
Fuente will lead the Memphis Tigers in his first head coaching stint after serving the last five seasons on Gary Patterson’s staff at TCU. Fuente joined the TCU football coaching staff in February 2007 as running backs coach and was promoted to co-offensive coordinator in February 2009. As part of his new duties, he moved from running backs coach to quarterbacks coach.
“The University of Memphis is pleased to welcome Justin Fuente to the Tiger family,” said Raines. “Justin is an energetic and enthusiastic coach who has guided a highly successful offense at TCU and was instrumental in its Rose Bowl win last year. He is a family man and is committed to developing our student-athletes. He and his family are eager to become part of the Memphis community.”
A native of Tulsa, Okla., the dynamic play-caller helped guide a TCU program to consecutive BCS bowl game appearances with a 2011 Rose Bowl victory over fifth-ranked Wisconsin that followed an appearance in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl. From 2008-10, TCU was the only program in the country that finished in the top-10 in both the Associated Press and USA Today polls all three years.
In Fuente’s three seasons as a coordinator, TCU set single-season school records for touchdowns, points scored and first downs, while also ranking among the nation’s most productive offensive units. From 2009-11, the Horned Frogs won 35 of 38 contests, including a 24-game win streak in the Mountain West Conference.
Credited with developing some of the top quarterbacks in TCU history, Fuente coached 2011 NFL Rookie of the Year candidate Andy Dalton, as well as current TCU starter Casey Pachall. TCU is the only school in the nation over the last three seasons to have two different quarterbacks rank in the top-10 in the country in passing efficiency.
Under Fuente’s tutelage, Dalton became TCU’s career leader in every major passing category. The 2011 second-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals also set Mountain West Conference (MWC) all-time marks for total offense (11,925 yards) and plays from scrimmage (1,730). A two-time MWC Offensive Player of the Year and three-time bowl game MVP, Dalton finished ninth in 2010 Heisman Trophy voting. He was a finalist for the Manning, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm and Bobby Bowden awards, while also being a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien and Maxwell honors.
As a sophomore, Pachall is on pace to surpass Dalton’s 2010 senior season totals. Through 12 games, Pachall has completed 213 of 314 pass attempts for 2,715 yards and 24 touchdowns. He has only thrown six interceptions in 2011, and helped rally TCU from fourth-quarter deficits three times this season. He threw for 473 yards against Boise State, which ranks second for a single game in school history.
The 2011 Horned Frogs became the first team to win the Mountain West championship three-consecutive seasons. TCU is 10-2 and ranked 15th as it heads to the Poinsettia Bowl. The Horned Frogs are ranked among the national leaders in total offense with their average of 443.9 yards per game.
In 2010, Fuente helped direct TCU to single-season school marks in touchdowns (73), points scored (541), total offense (6,199 yards) and first downs (327). The Horned Frogs ranked fourth nationally in scoring (41.6 points per game), sixth in passing efficiency (166.9), 10th in rushing (247.4 yards per game) and 12th in total offense (476.9 yards per game).
In his first season as co-offensive coordinator, Fuente helped direct a record-setting 2009 TCU attack. The Horned Frogs established then single-season school marks for points scored (498), total offense (5,937 yards), touchdowns (65) and first downs (311).
TCU ranked fifth nationally in rushing offense (239.5 yards per game) and scoring (38.3 points per game), while placing seventh in total offense (456.7 yards per game) and eighth in passing efficiency (154.1).
With Fuente as running backs coach in 2008, the Horned Frogs had a “running-back-by-committee” attack. TCU ranked 12th nationally in rushing, despite not having a player ranked among the top 96 rushers in the country. TCU’s 220.2 yards per game rushing was its highest mark since 2000 when LaDainian Tomlinson keyed a Frog ground attack that averaged 275.6 yards per game. During that 2008 campaign, Fuente helped develop tailback Aaron Brown into being a sixth-round selection by the Detroit Lions in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Fuente came to TCU after spending the previous six seasons as quarterbacks coach at Illinois State. His final three years saw him double as the Redbirds’ offensive coordinator. Under Fuente’s direction, Illinois State ranked in the top-10 nationally in total offense in 2005 and 2006. The Redbirds ranked eighth in 2006 with an average of 397.5 yards per game after they were fifth in both total offense (477.6 yards) and scoring (39.2 points) in 2005.
Fuente coached Redbird quarterback Luke Drone to All-Gateway Conference first team honors, as he led the league in passing (227.8 yards per game) and total offense (231.6 yards per game). Running back Pierre Rembert set an Illinois State single-season record with 1,743 yards, while also ranking sixth nationally in rushing with 134.1 yards per contest.
As a college quarterback, Fuente played two seasons (1996-97) at Oklahoma under then-Sooners offensive coordinator Dick Winder. Fuente set an Oklahoma freshman record with 11 touchdown passes. He transferred to Murray State for his final two years of eligibility.
Fuente set 11 school records at Murray State, including total offense and passing yards in a game and season. In 1999, he was the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Offensive Player of the Year and a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, given annually to the nation’s top player in Division I-AA. He graduated in 1999 from Murray State with a bachelor’s degree in finance.
Following his collegiate career, Fuente played professionally with the Oklahoma Wranglers in the Arena League.
Fuente and his wife, Jenny, have two daughters, Cecilia and Caroline.