And, as West declared on his way out in 2009, "There is a negativity here that in the end will eat you up."
So what brought the 36-year-old Fuente to Memphis, which plays at Marshall at 2 p.m. Saturday?
"Tremendous potential from a university standpoint, from a community standpoint," he said Tuesday. "A large public university with a great location that has all kind of potential. I also saw a group of people that was tired of not doing the things the right way, and wanted to do things the right way.
"While I was here [interviewing], I saw the challenges ahead of me, but knew the upside was incredible."
So far, not so good on the win-loss ledger. The Tigers (1-7, 1-3 Conference USA) started the year with a 20-17 loss to Tennessee-Martin and clinched its fifth straight losing season last week with a 44-13 setback at Southern Methodist.
The Tigers' lone win came against Rice, 14-10 in a heavy rain. Memphis outgained Central Florida two games later, but three critical turnovers led to a 35-17 loss.
Defensively, the Tigers have improved a bit, but the offense is struggling at 17.5 points and 286.5 yards per game, 117th and 119th of 120 teams nationally.
But Marshall coaches see an attack close to clicking under quarterback Jacob Karam, a junior who transferred in after completing his Texas Tech degree.
"You watch the film, and the ball hits the fingertips, or comes just a little bit behind him," said Chris Rippon, the Thundering Herd's defensive coordinator. "Or the running back gets through and he just gets tripped and you're saying, 'They're a play away from knocking the thing out.'
"And then they play Central Florida, and just about beat Central Florida. Early, they had the thing going."
With four games left in the Tigers' C-USA history, Fuente also sees progress, even if it's sometimes imperceptible.
"I think seeing the growth in some of these kids," he said. "We've got kids on our team right now that if you asked me my first month here, [I would say] there's no way they'd make it. They have continued to work and change and persevere and become better people, better human beings, better students, better workers.
"And that's the thing that keeps you working every day, watching the improvement in our program."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.