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Billy Jack Murphy


Billy Jack Murphy

Inducted 2022

Date of Birth



Lorenzo, TX


University of Memphis (1958-1971)


The winningest coach in Memphis history, Billy Jack Murphy led the Tigers' program for 14 years, posting winning records in all but two seasons and leading the school into the national rankings. Murphy is the second person with ties to Memphis to enter the College Football Hall of Fame. Murphy became head coach at Memphis, then known as Memphis State, in 1958. He took the program from obscurity to national prominence with multiple firsts while winning 67.3 percent of his games before his exit after the 1971 season with an overall record of 91-44-1. He led the team's transition to major college status in 1960 as a member of the NCAA University Division while posting an 8-2 record. As the Tigers' program grew in stature, Murphy replaced small-college opponents with major programs, including wins against Florida State, Houston, Miami (FL), Mississippi, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest. In 1962, Murphy led the Tigers to their first win over a member of the SEC, a 28-7 victory at Mississippi State. In 1963, the Tigers posted the school's first undefeated season since 1938 with a 9-0-1 record, and Murphy claimed National Coach of the Year honors from The Detroit Times. The team finished No. 14 in the UPI Coaches Poll, the highest ranking in school history. The lone tie that season, a 0-0 tilt, came against No. 2 Ole Miss who had not been shutout in 47 games. In 1967, Murphy and the Tigers would finally gain the upper hand, claiming the program's first win against Ole Miss with a 27-17 victory at home. Memphis ended its 27-year run as an independent in 1968, joining the Missouri Valley Conference, and Murphy earned Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year honors in three of the school's first four seasons in the conference. Murphy led Memphis to its first appearance and first win in a bowl with a 28-9 victory over San Jose State in the 1971 Pasadena Bowl. The game marked Murphy's final appearance as a head coach, and he transitioned full-time to athletics director, a role he had started in 1966 and held until 1981. Murphy was an All-SEC tailback for Hall of Fame Coach Allyn McKeen. Murphy joined the Marine Corps Reserve in 1943 and transferred to Duke University for training with the V-12 Program. He served heroically in the South Pacific, and narrowly escaped with his life on at least four occasions. He received the Bronze Star, the Presidential Citation, and the Navy Citation. Following World War II, Murphy returned to Mississippi State as the captain of the 1946 Bulldogs team. Murphy took his first job as an assistant coach at Memphis for a five-year stint. In 1951, he returned to Mississippi State under head coach Murray Warmath who he then followed to Minnesota in 1954 for four seasons as the running backs coach before becoming the Memphis head coach at the age of 37 in 1958. Murphy was inducted into the State of Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, the Mississippi State Hall of Fame and the Memphis M Club Hall of Fame. Murphy passed away in 2008 at the age of 87. Each year the Billy J. Murphy Award is presented to a former Memphis athlete who has excelled in their chosen profession after graduation, and the Tigers' practice facility is named in Murphy's honor


Wins 91

Losses 44

Ties 1

Career Highlights

  • 1969 Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year
  • 1969 Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year
  • 1968 Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year
  • 1963 Detroit Times Coach of the Year
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