As Memphis football transitions towards its second bowl game appearance in as many seasons this December, co-offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey is taking the reins of the program as interim head coach. While his future with the team is unknown, his primary focus is still fully on going 1-0 one last time in 2015.
Dickey was named the interim coach this week after former coach Justin Fuente accepted the head job at Virginia Tech. Dickey has previously served as a head coach in his career, leading the North Texas Mean Green from 1998 to 2006. In that time he held an overall record of 42-64, and was named Sun Belt Coach of the Year four times.
“I think my head coaching experience will be beneficial in that I’ve done this before, and I know the things that can happen and what to expect,” Dickey said. “We’ll deal with the peaks and the valleys as we go, but so far our kids are handling things extremely well. They’ve been around. They’ve been over there working out.”
In addition to Dickey’s head coaching experience at North Texas, he’s also learned from last season, when he was the offensive coordinator for the Tigers as they defeated BYU in the Miami Beach Bowl. The previous experience is helpful in a bowl game setting, which is much different from preparing for traditional games.
Instead of having a week to prepare for their opponent, the Tigers could have close to a full month. According to bowl projections by ESPN and CBS Sports, Memphis is currently predicted to play in either the Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 22 or the Birmingham Bowl Dec. 30.
“It gives you more time to gameplan, it gives us a better chance, even though some things are going on here, to get out and recruit,” Dickey said. “There’s still a tremendous amount of interest from recruits right now based on what this program has accomplished, so we’re trying to keep that heading in the right direction.”
With Fuente’s departure from the U of M, rumors have connected former Tiger defensive coordinator Barry Odom to the job opening, although he is also considered to be a candidate for the head coaching job at his current school, the University of Missouri.
If a deal for Odom falls through or the U of M decides to go in a different direction, Dickey could be a potential target.
“What I hope happens is that Memphis football gets the best head coach they can possibly get,” the interim coach said. “I want what’s best for the University of Memphis, the Memphis athletic program, and the kids in the program, because they deserve that. If that happens to be me, then I would certainly look into doing this job permanently, but we are quite a ways from that.”
The Tigers do not yet know their opponent or their destination for this year’s bowl game. The College Football Playoff field will be announced Sunday night, and all of the other bowl pairings are typically announced after the playoff field is set.
New interim Memphis football coach Darrell Dickey was a former head coach at North Texas from 1998-2006.