As first reported by ESPN Saturday, Mike Norvell is leaving the University of Memphis to become the new head football coach at Florida State. In four years at the Memphis helm, Norvell posted a 38-15 record (the fifth-most wins in Tiger history) and led the 2019 Tigers to the American Athletic Conference championship (earned with a victory over Cincinnati Saturday at the Liberty Bowl). The Tigers have won 12 games for the first time in program history and will play in the prestigious Cotton Bowl in Dallas on December 28th.
Norvell, who turned 38 in October, took over the Memphis program upon Justin Fuente's departure for Virginia Tech after the 2015 season. The former offensive coordinator at Arizona State led the Tigers to a 8-5 record in his first season as a head coach, then followed with a 10-3 campaign in 2017 that culminated in Memphis playing in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl for the first time and a year-end ranking of 25 in the Associated Press poll. After an 8-6 season in 2018, the Tigers won the AAC's West Division a third straight season and returned to the AP Top 25 (currently 16th).
The Tigers scored more than 500 points in each of Norvell's four seasons at the helm, a total reached by the program only once before his arrival. Memphis placed a player on the AP All-America first team after both the 2017 (receiver Anthony Miller) and 2018 (Darrell Henderson) seasons.
Norvell succeeds Willie Taggart, who went 9-12 with the Seminoles before being dismissed in November. Florida State did not appear in a bowl game after the 2018 season, ending a streak of 36 consecutive postseason appearances.
In a press release addressed to "Tiger Nation," Memphis athletic director Laird Veatch applauded Norvell for his success in blue and gray and provided a sense of the priority he'll give in finding the right successor for Tiger football. "This search will be my sole focus and I will be in regular contact with President [David] Rudd. We now turn our attention to securing a coach of the highest integrity and character with the skills and vision to continue our ascension into the college football elite. There has never been a better time to be a part of the Memphis Tiger football program."