Geoff Caulkins of the Memphis Commercial Appeal broke news today that, back in October, the University of Memphis presented coach Justin Fuente with an "extraordinary offer" in regard to a renewed contract. The details as of now have not been fully released but we do know that the contract offer, at the time, would have made Fuente the "highest-paid coach outside of the P5." Per Caulkins, sources had indicated that the deal was north of $2.2 million but would not specify how the deal compared to the $3 million deal offered to Houston's Tom Herman. However, Caulkins has since tweeted that he is being told the offer to Fuente is in fact north of Hermans offer.
Why should Fuente leave?
If the right job comes open he would have to, right? Memphis has never been part of the "establishment" and as of right now there are no concrete indications that the Tigers will be part of any realignment. Aside from that, there will be plenty of solid P5 job openings to view at the end of the season. Every year there are several open jobs to sift through. At the end of the 2015 season the open job market among P5 schools will be a who's who list.
As of right now the open jobs include USC (x2), Va Tech, Miami, and Missouri to name a few. There is a possibility (depending on who you talk to) that Georgia, Texas, and/or Texas A&M could open. The list above includes schools that have P5 ties, money, and plenty of fan support. The list above also very likely has Justin Fuente's name atop their wish list. Coming off of a 10-3 season and being on the verge of another 10 win season it seems likely that Fuentes name could never be hotter. With his reputation and the current job market it seems he could pick his situation rather than having to settle.
Why should Fuente stay?
From the tone of Caulkins article money will not be a reason to leave. The Tigers have clearly made a financial commitment to keep Fuente for years to come. One thing of note is this offer was made in advance of the Tigers "success". Per Caulkins the offer was made before the Ole Miss win in early October. This is before breaking school records and rising to unseen poll positions. The Tigers were making sure they presented him early, clearly indicating their trust and loyalty in Fuente running the program.
With money not being a factor the only other things P5 schools can outdo the Tigers on is fan support and playoff hopes. Fuente has worked hard to build on all of these points. He has invested "sweat equity" at Memphis. The double edge sword to this point, however, is that Fuente has proven he can build Memphis from nothing. If he can do this at Memphis he can do it anywhere.
Two Parting Thoughts:
1. The biggest worry for Memphis should be tradition of "the job". Memphis just doesn't have the deep tradition of some schools. I really don't think Memphians should worry about teams like Miami or USC (West Coast). Even though those schools have the "tradition" that a coach would find desirable I don't think they "fit" coach Fuente's personality. Jobs like Miami and USC have too much of the politicking that, in my opinion, don't fit Fuente. The biggest fear, in my mind, is a midwest school or Va Tech.
2. Memphis needs to be very thankful for former coach Tommy West. When West was fired the time simply was right. However, West didn't feel that he was given a fair share to compete. In his exit press conference coach West lit in to the Tigers administration. Without West's eye opening speech it is entirely likely the Tigers focus would have never shifted to football the way it clearly has in the past 5 years.