MEMPHIS, Tenn. (KFSM)–Rumored for weeks to be one of Arkansas’s top coaching targets, Mike Norvell is off the board. Norvell tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that he’d signed an extension to remain as Memphis head coach.
Norvell took the head coaching position at Memphis after Justin Fuente left to lead the Virginia Tech program after the 2015 season and the Tigers never skipped a beat.
Memphis went 8-5 in 2016 but exploded in 2017 as they won 10 of their first 11 games as the Tigers averaged 47 points a game and scored 50 points or more four times. Norvell’s team knocked off then ranked UCLA in week three of the season. Memphis finished the regular season ranked in the top-20 heading into the American Athletic Conference championship game. The Tigers only two losses of the season came to undefeated UCF, including a 62-55 double-overtime loss in the AAC title game.
Arkansas had been pursuing Auburn head coach and Fort Smith native Gus Malzahn but the Tigers coach reportedly agreed to a new contract with the school. CBS Sports reported that the Razorbacks had offered Malzahn a deal worth as much as $50 million over seven years.
Norvell also has Arkansas ties as he is the University of Central Arkansas’ all-time leading receiver with 213 career catches and finished with 2,611 yards and 15 touchdowns. Norvell played for the Bears from 2001-2005 and then served as a graduate assistant under head coach Clint Conque in 2006.
Norvell rose to prominence in the coaching ranks serving as offensive coordinator under head coach Todd Graham at both Pitt (2011) and Arizona State (2012-15). Norvell also served on Graham’s staff at Tulsa from 2007-2010.
Bret Bielema was fired after a 4-8 season in 2017 and went just 29-34 in his five seasons with the Razorbacks. Arkansas did reach three bowl games under Bielema but his tenure with the Hogs ended after losing 10 of his final 14 games as head coach.