The Memphis Tigers and Memphis Lady Tigers represent the University of Memphis in Division I of the NCAA. They are members of Conference USA and currently feature nine women's sports and nine men's sports.
|2007 Memphis Tigers Football Commercial||Intro video that played at 2007-2008 basketball games at the FedExForum|
|Intro video that played on the videoboard at 2004-05 FedExForum games||2008 Tiger Football Commercial 3|
When the Memphis State University first fielded a football team in the fall of 1912, no one had selected a nickname for the squad. Early references to the football team tabbed them only as the Blue and Gray Warriors.
After the final game of the 1914 season, there was a student parade. During this event, several University students shouted, "We fight like Tigers!" The nickname was born. As time passed, the nickname "Tigers" was increasingly used, particularly in campus publications, but did not catch on with the newspapers downtown. They continued to use "the Blue and Gray" when referring to the University.
Under Coach Lester Barnard in 1922, Memphis's football team gave a ring of truth to that old student yell about Tigers. The team adopted a motto - "Every Man a Tiger" - and went on to score 174 points while allowing its opponents just 29 points. The Tiger nickname continued on with students and alumni, eventually being adopted as the official nickname for the University of Memphis in 1939.
The Tigers reached the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship three years in a row (2006-2008) and those same years won the conference championship, going undefeated in conference play in 2007 and 2008. Their record for those three seasons is 106-9. In 2007, the team was ranked number 1 in ESPN's and CBSsportsline.com's Summer Polls and, for the first time in 25 years, earned a Number One ranking Jan. 21, 2008 in the AP Poll. The Tigers returned all five starters and added heralded freshman recruits Derrick Rose and Jeff Robinson to the mix for the 2007-08 season. They defeated UT Arlington in the first round, Mississippi State in the second round, and Michigan State in the Sweet Sixteen round of the 2008 NCAA tournament to advance to the Elite Eight. On March 30, 2008, they beat the Texas Longhorns 85-67 in Houston to claim the South Regional Championship, and on April 5, 2008, they beat UCLA in their first Final Four appearance since 1985 earning a spot to play in the National Championship on April 7, 2008, against the University of Kansas. In the championship game, Memphis surrendered a nine point lead in the final two minutes, eventually losing in overtime 75-68. Memphis is still a top team and should remain a threat in Conference USA.
The program gained national prominence when it reached the 1973 NCAA Division I basketball championship game, led by Tiger stars Larry Finch, Larry Kenon, Ronnie Robinson, Bill Cook and others, eventually losing to John Wooden's UCLA Bruins.
The Tigers continued an era of excellence throughout the 1980s and went to the Final Four in 1985 losing to Villanova, the ultimate winner of the tournament. Success continued in the 1990s, and into the present under current head coach John Calipari. The 2008 season took the Tigers to the Final Four where Memphis lost the championship game to the Kansas Jayhawks in overtime. Perennial rivals include UAB, the University of Southern Mississippi, the University of Cincinnati (also located in a metro area spanning three states), and the much hated University of Louisville. The world record holder for the highest Slam dunk (12 feet from floor to rim) is a former University of Memphis basketball forward, and current Harlem Globetrotter Michael Wilson. At home, the Tigers play on Beale Street in the state-of-the-art FedExForum.
The Memphis football program competes in Conference USA and is coached by Tommy West. The team plays in the 62,380 seat Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.The U of M went to five bowl games in six seasons from 2003 to 2008. In 2005, the Tigers football team was led in the Motor City Bowl by DeAngelo Williams, a then-senior All-American running back and eventual first-round draft pick by the Carolina Panthers of the NFL.
Recent professional athletes from the University of Memphis include: Derrick Rose (Guard, Chicago Bulls), Chris Douglas-Roberts (Guard, New Jersey Nets), Joey Dorsey (Forward, Houston Rockets), DeAngelo Williams (Carolina Panthers), Dan Uggla (second baseman, Florida Marlins), Stephen Gostkowski (kicker, New England Patriots), Tony Brown (Tennessee Titans), Isaac Bruce (San Francisco 49ers), Rodney Carney (forward, Philadelphia 76ers), Shawne Williams (forward, Indiana Pacers), Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway (Miami Heat), Lorenzen Wright (forward/center, Atlanta Hawks), Sean Banks, former NBA players Keith Lee, Dajuan Wagner, Elliot Perry and Cedric Henderson, Danny Wimprine (quarterback, New Orleans VooDoo, Calgary Stampeders), Larry Finch (former Memphis Tams player), Antonio Burks (guard, KK Crvena Zvezda), Darius Washington Jr. (guard, San Antonio Spurs) and Earl Barron (center, Miami Heat).
On August 21, 2008, it was announced that Anfernee Hardaway had donated one million dollars to the Athletic Department to construct a Sports Hall of Fame.
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