Return of the Kingsbury
Kliff Kingsbury is the new coach at Texas Tech, and Greg Tepper weighs in.
It took him a decade, with stops in Boston, New York, Canada, Houston and College Station, but one of Texas Tech’s favorite sons has come home to Lubbock.
Kliff Kingsbury, the record-setting quarterback-turned-offensive coordinator, was hired as the 15th coach in Texas Tech history on Wednesday, leaving his post as Texas A&M’s offensive coordinator to take his first head coaching job.
The New Braunfels High School product is one of the most decorated players in Texas Tech history, the first quarterback in Mike Leach’s famed Air Raid offense to truly light the West Texas sky on fire. In three years as the starter, Kingsbury threw for 12,423 yards and 95 touchdowns against 40 interceptions, leading the Red Raiders to a 23-16 record during that time.
After brief stints in both the NFL and the Canadian Football League, Kingsbury got a job on the University of Houston’s staff, largely because of then-offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, his OC at Tech. From there, it’s been a meteoric rise for Kingsbury through the coaching ranks: becoming the Houston OC in 2009, following coach Kevin Sumlin to Texas A&M last year and coordinating the offense that turned Johnny Manziel into the first freshman Heisman Trophy winner.
So, here is Kliff Kingsbury, just ten years removed from taking his last snap as Texas Tech’s quarterback, taking the reins as the head coach. And it feels like a slam-dunk hire.
Think about it: ever since the controversy that led to Mike Leach’s departure from Lubbock, the Texas Tech fan base has been largely splintered. There are those who think the program needed to move on. There are those who think Mike Leach got a raw deal.
And Tommy Tuberville – as inelegant as his departure may have been – was much more than just Tommy Tuberville. He was a symbol of Not Mike Leach. And that, given the splintered fan base, made him a polarizing figure.
But every Texas Tech fan can get behind Kliff Kingsbury, a local legend come home to guide his team. This hiring should galvanize the fan base and bring some normalcy back to Lubbock.
Oh, and did I mention that he can coach? In his three seasons as an offensive coordinator, Kingsbury-led offenses have ranked 11th, 1st and 3rd nationally in total offense. The man is, by all accounts and by all evidence, an offensive mastermind.
Of course, this is by no means a sure thing. Kliff Kingsbury is 33, one of the youngest head coaches in college football history. The only BCS-conference head coach that I can find that was younger is Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald (though, by all means, if you know of someone else younger than Kingsbury, e-mail me). And being the head coach of a program is far, far different than being the offensive coordinator.
But this feels reminiscent of Mike Gundy’s hiring at Oklahoma State – a quarterback turned offensive maestro who came back to his alma mater. Kingsbury is a coach that Tech fans can feel comfortable will be there for a long time, and he’ll benefit from a little bit of latitude afforded him by his ties to Tech.
(And don’t you worry about Texas A&M; I imagine Kevin Sumlin’s e-mail is filling up with coaches who would love a chance to coach Johnny Manziel.)
In all, this seems like a perfect fit for Texas Tech. All roads, it seems, have led back to Lubbock for the original Air Raider.
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.