When I first started to conceptualize this post, it wasn't intended to give any mention to the Deadspin post about Stephen Spiegelberg's ideas for Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury. If there is anything we can take away from that article it is the following:
Rip the wave...don't ride it.
I do think it is interesting that Texas Tech fans are somewhat forced into the spotlight about this non-issue, but the difference is that I don't think that I'm at all having to apologize for what some t-shirt sales person wants to to shape Kingsbury's image. I do think that Kingsbury has this under control.
I'd also say that this isn't to say that Kingsbury doesn't care about the things that Spegelberg mentions. I really don't know, but I do think Kingsbury does care about how he looks on some level. I know that for me personally, I'd love to show up to work in my law office in jeans and flip-flops every day, but as I've gotten older, you sorta want your banker or your attorney to look like your banker or attorney. To be totally casual is a nice gimmick, but that's not the way you're supposed to look.
The more interesting dichotomy for me is that Kingsbury is a person who I think is aware of how he looks (a person does not own that many v-necks without a plan), but he's also one of the best and brightest offensive minds in football. That's the interesting contrast. A coach who is one of the best in at his job and is self-aware and I don't have to apologize or look down at the ground because of it.
The real impetus for writing this article was the idea that SI.com's Andy Staples was supposedly doing a feature on Kingsbury. I've read it, but I was expecting more. It hasn't been released online yet. But this this week, we got two additional articles on Kingsbury that focus on what we care about.
The fashion part of things are a gimmick, just like my preferred fashion sense. None of that will really matter if Kingsbury doesn't win and I have no doubt that Kingsbury knows that. DT's Zach DiSchiano talked with Kingsbury about a handful of things and you can watch the entire interview embedded below, but Kingsbury knows it is about wins:
"We expect to win this year, that’s why I came here," he said. "I had a great job at the other place, but this is home for me. I wouldn’t come back if I thought we couldn’t win it this year."
Kingsbury echoes what he's said since he was hired, which is that he loves Lubbock and he can sell Lubbock better than anyone else.
"Positive energy-type coaches — guys that are going to know about this place, that are going to know the culture of this place and be able to attack what our weaknesses are, the obstacles we have to overcome out here," he said about what he was looking for in his assistant coaches. "It’s a special place, and you kind of have to know the culture of it to really embrace it and do your best. We’ve got guys that are familiar with it, and I’m really pleased with the staff."
Rivals.com's Rob Cassidy wrote something earlier in the week that I really didn't get a chance to highlight until now. Maybe my favorite quotes are from now Houston head coach Tony Levine, who was a co-offensive coordinator with Kingsbury at Houston in 2010, that Kingsbury had studied and studied UCLA and knew their weaknesses and knew what would score. Levine thinks he did the same thing against Alabama last year:
"There's no question in my mind that he game planned for Alabama (which Kingsbury and A&M defeated last season) over the spring. There is no question in my mind that he was planned and ready for them last spring. He just did too many things to that defense. That's how he is, though."
So while Kingsbury looks like a guy more likely to be holding a surfboard and a cigar than a clipboard and a whistle, there's a reason Sumlin took his most inexperienced assistant with him when he made the jump to Texas A&M.
"I think people are fascinated by Kliff's persona and his appearance and may interpret, without knowing him, that he's laid-back and some other things," Levine said. "But he's brilliant. When you talk about offensive football and relating to student-athletes, he is brilliant in both regards."
That's really it. People are fascinated by Kingsbury's appearance. Spiegelberg is evidence of that, but the problem is Spiegelberg is riding the wave, not ripping the curl.
The bigger picture isn't a style or a look, the bigger picture is about winning football games. I know that Kingsbury knows that. Spiegelberg will sell thousands and thousands of t-shirts if Texas Tech wins, not if Kingsbury has Michael Jackson's stylist. For some strange coincidence t-shirt companies were able to sell t-shirts about a coach that liked to read about Native Americans and pirates and coach football, but I don't recall any t-shirts about a coach that had a very corporate personality. The difference between the two wasn't that one was quirky and another wasn't. Or that one had an image. One of those coaches won more football games than the other. All of those coaches mentioned in that Deadspin memo have one thing in common.
So I've got the marketing plan for any t-shirt shop or spirit shop.
That's your marketing plan. I promise that the more a team wins, the more stuff they'll sell and it doesn't matter in the least the "image" of a head coach. Just win.