CLOSE

Reporter Mark Giannotto and columnist Geoff Calkins break down the Tigers’ 2017 season and the Liberty Bowl.
Mark Giannotto/The Commercial Appeal

Memphis football coach Mike Norvell took a measured approach to the Tigers being ranked in the final college football polls.

The Tigers (10-3) ended up No. 25 in the AP poll for the second time in four years and No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches’ poll, a final stamp on a season the team and fans won’t forget anytime soon.

“The number before your name doesn’t define necessarily who you are, whether you’re ranked or not, but it is a tremendous compliment for how you are perceived,” Norvell said Wednesday. 

“It definitely marks the national perspective and respect that this football team worked to earn throughout this season.”

Norvell’s second year at the helm saw the Tigers tie a school record in victories, Riley Ferguson become the school’s first 4,000-yard passer and Anthony Miller break his own school records for reception yards en route to an All-American season. 

On the flip side, the season was bittersweet with consecutive losses to Central Florida in the American Athletic Conference championship game and Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl. Still, Norvell took the final rankings as a positive given the Tigers posted their fourth consecutive winning season.

“We’re truly working to be a respectable program and be one that can be showcased at a high level,” Norvell said. “(The season) didn’t necessarily finish the way wanted it to but it is exciting to see that we’re seen in all publications as a Top 25 team in the country.”

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

Praise for Central Florida

With Central Florida staking its claim to a share of the national following its undefeated season, Norvell had a unique perspective having faced UCF twice in the season.

The Tigers lost the first meeting 40-13, a game where they committed five turnovers and allowed 603 yards of total of offense. The second meeting was an instant classic where Memphis matched UCF blow for blow until an interception in double overtime gave the Knights a 62-55 win and the AAC championship.

“You look at this season and that championship game was one of the greatest games I’ve ever been a part of and might have been one of the greatest football games this season,” Norvell said.

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

Norvell had high praise for the Knights going on to beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl to complete their perfect season. But as for any speculation on what if UCF deserved a shot to face national champion Alabama, he chose to keep UCF’s success in its own context.

“All you can do is maximize the opportunities you’re presented and Central Florida did a great job throughout this season. They were able to achieve in every game against every opponent,” Norvell said

If anything, UCF’s success served as additional motivation for the Tigers as they head into the offseason. Throw in ending the season with consecutive losses and Norvell wants to make sure his team maintains the standard they’ve established.

“Our guys have a lot of confidence on how we’re capable of playing but we also know that we’ve got to continue to get better and fix some of the little things that cost us where we came up a little bit short,” Norvell said.

  • Tigers Boca Raton Bowl Pep Rally

    Tigers Boca Raton Bowl Pep Rally

  • Senior Daniel Montiel

    Senior Daniel Montiel

  • Senior Arthur Maulet

    Senior Arthur Maulet

  • Tigers Bowling Party

    Tigers Bowling Party

  • Tiger Arthur Maulet

    Tiger Arthur Maulet

  • Mike Norvell praises pre-bowl intensity

    Mike Norvell praises pre-bowl intensity

  • Tigers' Beach Party

    Tigers’ Beach Party

  • Mike Norvell reacts to Memphis' first practice in Florida

    Mike Norvell reacts to Memphis’ first practice in Florida

  • Riley Ferguson talks Florida practice

    Riley Ferguson talks Florida practice

  • Tigers arrive at Boca Raton Bowl

    Tigers arrive at Boca Raton Bowl

  • Calkins & Schad on Tiger Football

    Calkins & Schad on Tiger Football

  • Memphis Tigers are Boca Bound

    Memphis Tigers are Boca Bound