Mike Norvell, who has been instrumental in developing dynamic, high-scoring offenses throughout his career, has been named the head football coach at the University of Memphis. Norvell was named the Tigers’ 24th head coach during a press conference held Friday, Dec. 4, on the university campus.
Norvell joins the UofM family and Tiger Nation after coaching the previous four years at Arizona State University where he was the program’s deputy head coach and offensive coordinator.
“We’re thrilled to have brought one of the best young coaches in the country to Memphis,” said University of Memphis President M. David Rudd. “I have no doubt that he will take this program to the next level.”
“I am elated that we are introducing Mike Norvell as our new Head football coach today,” University of Memphis Director of Athletics Tom Bowen said. “I believe Mike is the perfect fit for what we are building and will continue to build here with our program, and the fine young men that represent the University of Memphis and the city of Memphis. We will continue to maintain our competitive excellence as a very good football program going forward,”
After breaking into coaching at his alma mater, the University of Central Arkansas, as a graduate assistant in 2006, Norvell joined Todd Graham’s coaching staff at Tulsa as wide receivers coach in 2007. He was a member of Graham’s staff at Tulsa four years (2007-2010), before coaching one season at Pittsburgh (2011). Norvell was hired as Arizona State’s offensive coordinator after Graham was named the head coach ahead of the 2012 season.
“Mike and I have been together for nine years, since I hired him as a graduate assistant at the University of Tulsa, including the past four years here at ASU,” Graham said. “Together, we won 34 games and will have appeared in four straight bowl games. Our University, our program and our student-athletes all have benefitted from Mike’s expertise, mentorship and coaching ability. Mike stands for all of the things that we teach in our program, which are character, toughness, discipline and integrity.”
Over Norvell’s four seasons at Arizona State, the Sun Devils averaged 38.1 points per game to rank second in the Pac-12 and among the nation’s leaders over that stretch of time. ASU has scored 1,981 points over the last four seasons.
This season, Arizona State ranks 23rd nationally in total offense, averaging 473.8 yards per game. The Sun Devils are averaging 289 passing yards per game which ranks 22nd in FBS Football. In addition to his administrative and offensive coordinating responsibilities, Norvell was also responsible for coaching ASU’s quarterbacks. He mentored ASU senior quarterback Mike Bercovici, who this year has completed 290-of-480 passes for 3,442 yards and 26 touchdowns.
In 2014, the Sun Devils’ offense ranked 16th in the nation in scoring (37 points per game) and 13th in touchdown passes (34). The offense finished with 5,750 total yards, including 2,194 on the ground and 3,556 through the air. Quarterback Taylor Kelly, who was named the Pac-12 Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year and ASU’s recipient of the Pac-12 Tom Hansen Medal of Honor (awarded annually to each member institution’s outstanding senior male and female student-athlete based on the exhibition of the greatest combination of performance and achievement in scholarship, athletics and leadership), concluded his time in the Maroon and Gold third in both career passing yards and touchdowns.
At the conclusion of the 2015 regular season, Bercovici became the second consecutive winner of the award.
Norvell’s guidance was also instrumental in the development of Bercovici, who was thrust into the starter’s role when Kelly was injured in the third game of the 2014 season. In three starts, Bercovici led ASU to a 2-1 record while throwing for 1,243 yards and nine touchdowns (only two interceptions) and completing 63 percent of his passes.
Norvell was promoted to deputy head coach at Arizona State in December 2013.
The 2013 Sun Devil offense was ranked 10th nationally in scoring, averaging 39.7 points per game. With Norvell mentoring, Kelly threw for 28 touchdowns. Combined with his 29 touchdown tosses in 2012, Kelly’s 57 scoring strikes in 2012-13 were the most for any Sun Devil quarterback in a two-season span. In addition, Kelly’s 3,635 passing yards in 2013 were the third-most in a single season.
Norvell led a balanced and explosive offense in his first year with ASU, helping the Sun Devils set school marks at the quarterback, running back and tight end positions.
Nowhere was Norvell’s influence felt more than at the quarterback position where Kelly, in his first season as ASU’s starting signal-caller, set the school record for completion percentage (67.1) and threw for the second-most touchdown passes (29) in school history. Combined with the talents of running back Marion Grice – scored the third-most touchdowns (19) in school history – and tight end Chris Coyle – 57 receptions were the most ever by an ASU tight end –
The 2012 Sun Devils became the 14th team in NCAA FBS bowl history to score 60+ points in a bowl game (62 against Navy in Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl).
Of the 464.5 total yards per game ASU averaged in 2012, 205.5 came on the ground, representing the second-best mark in the previous 25 seasons (since 1988).
Norvell’s quick-strike offense also produced 58 scoring drives of three minutes or less in 2012.
In his first full-time coaching opportunity at the University of Tulsa where he originally started as an offensive graduate assistant, Norvell soon transitioned to passing game coordinator and receivers coach before adding director of recruiting to his title in 2010. At Pitt in 2011, Norvell was the co-offensive coordinator, wide receivers coach and director of recruiting.
While with Tulsa, the Golden Hurricane had five 1,000-yard receivers emerge under Norvell’s tutelage. His most accomplished pupil was All-America receiver Damaris Johnson, who led the country in all-purpose yards for two consecutive years and set the all-time NCAA FBS record for that category with 7,796 career yards. Johnson averaged 202.2 all-purpose yards per game in 2010. In Tulsa’s 62-35 win over Hawai’i in the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl, he averaged an incredible 21.73 yards per touch en route to 326 all-purpose yards.
In 2008, Norvell’s receivers were a vital part of college football’s most prolific offense. Tulsa averaged an astounding 569.9 yards per game that season to lead the country. The Golden Hurricane ranked second nationally in scoring (47.1points/game) and ninth in passing yards (301.8 yards/game). Tulsa also topped the country in total offense in 2007 (543.9 yards/game) and set 29 school records, 15 Conference USA marks and four NCAA records. The ’07 Golden Hurricane became the first team in NCAA history to have a 5,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and three 1,000-yard receivers in a single season.
Prior to Tulsa, Norvell was an offensive graduate assistant at his alma mater, Central Arkansas. In addition to coaching receivers and H-Backs, he was a significant contributor to UCA’s special teams.
Norvell was accomplished on the field and in the classroom at Central Arkansas. A four-year starter at receiver, he finished his career as the school’s all-time leader in receptions (213) and ranked third in receiving yards (2,611). Norvell earned All-Gulf South honors and was the conference’s 2001 Freshman of the Year. He also was a two-time first-team Gulf South All-Academic honoree. Norvell earned his bachelor’s degree of education in social studies in 2005 and a master’s degree in training systems in 2007, both from UCA.
Norvell is married to the former Maria Chiolino of Fort Smith, Arkansas. They have a daughter, Mila, who was born on June 23, 2014. At the age of 34 (born Oct. 11, 1981), Norvell is the youngest head coach in FBS Football.