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The Right Coach For Texas Tech

Why Kliff Kingsbury Must Be and Is Texas Tech’s Longterm Head Coaching Answer

NCAA Football: Baylor vs Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

In an evermore impatient society where success should have come yesterday, the pressure to win from fans, boosters and the board of regents is a zero-sum game and if we aren’t winning it’s time to cut our losses while we can and start over. Right now, Texas Tech football stands at a crossroads.

Seven plus years and two head coaches later and fans still hark back to the success under Mike Leach. How we were no longer the “red-headed step child” of Texas, but consistently in the upper tier of teams just one or two wins away from securing a trip to the Big 12 title game. What many have failed to see, including myself, is that the landscape of college football is different now, than what it was 7 years ago. At the height of the Mike Leach era, you still needed a college email address to be on Facebook. Twitter, had just launched and was nothing compared to what it is today. There was no instant reaction from fans about the win or the loss, or snarky comments about how a team is trash. Recruits didn’t attention grab with who they were committing to while asking “no interviews please”. There weren’t any, “Top 5 or 10 or 15 school edits” that recruits would post to get rabid fans to fawn all over them in the comments pleading with them to come to their school. The game has changed. Texas Tech is no longer the 3rd best program in the Big 12 (South). There is an argument that Tech isn’t even the 3rd best program in Texas.

So now we have to have a conversation about what Texas Tech is, what we have been, where are we going and who is going to lead us? Most of that is for another article, but for the purposes of this article let us stick with who is going to lead us? The answer is Kliff Kingsbury. Done deal. Flat out. Unequivocal. He is the right coach for Texas Tech.


Before I get into the why of my declaration. Let’s examine the argument from the opposition, specifically who is on the short list to replace Kingsbury? The criteria is usually “We need a defensive minded head coach”. My criteria is a little more general. First, will potential coach be interested in Texas Tech (Lubbock)? Second, will potential coach come for the money (budget) Tech can offer (probably around $3-3.5mil/year)? Lastly, will potential coach stay longer than three years? The last qualification is the most important in my opinion. Is this new coach going to jump ship after showing he can have success and go to a historically better program?

That was a major knock on Mike Leach. Everyone though he was going to leave Texas Tech for more money because he kept entertaining the idea that he wasn’t 100% Texas Tech. That made fans furious. It’s obviously a knock on Tommy Tuberville, an established coach, who left for a better situation after three years (he is currently unemployed after being fired at Cincinnati). If we hire an established coach who is coming from a lower conference, is Texas Tech a stepping stone? If we hire an up and coming coordinator, is Texas Tech a stepping stone? Hard to say for sure, I’ll grant you, but I have yet to hear a name that answers these three criteria for me. And I’m still listening.

Whether on the Air Raid Podcast or in talking with fans online or in person, the list looks something like this...
1. Lincoln Riley
2. Chad Morris
3. Sonny Cumbie

Now, all three of these candidates have no background running a defense which basically shuts down their number one need “We want a defensive minded head coach”. None of the three can be sold as better, not even significantly better, than Kingsbury. All that can be said of these three candidates is that they are somebody different and it may click for them.

Of these three, the biggest one I hear fans wanting is Cumbie. He too quarterbacked at Texas Tech, turned Boykin into a Heisman contender and has learned under defensive genius Gary Patterson for the last 3 years. All of which is true, but those same fans were quick to turn on Chad Glasgow when he was the DC at Tech in 2011 (one of the worst defensive seasons ever for Tech football) after coming from running Gary Patterson’s secondary at TCU the year before. Glasgow subsequently returned to TCU to run the secondary and takes over this year as DC for Gary Patterson. So this begs the question... was it Glasgow was a poor coach or was it something else? There is no guarantee that anything will be different under Cumbie than is has been the last few years under Kingsbury. There is also the possibility of things getting worse.

Chad Morris, who was the runner up to Kingsbury in 2013, is now the Head Coach at SMU. In his two years at SMU, his coaching record is 7-17. While most will be quick to point out that he had far less to work with at SMU than Kingsbury at Tech, he still hasn’t shown that he is a significant upgrade over Kingsbury at this time.

Lincoln Riley, currently the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, doesn’t seem eager to leave his cushy job in Norman anytime soon. Especially going back to Texas Tech that left a sour taste in his mouth when Tech chose Tuberville over Ruffin McNeil. Imagine that... 2010 season opens with head coach Ruffin McNeil and OC Lincoln Riley? Anyway, I digress. Riley will probably looking for a different program altogether possibly in the ACC or Pac-12 when he’s ready to make that jump.


Since 1990, Texas Tech is averaging seven (7) wins per season. Seven. Since Texas Tech joined the Southwest Conference in 1960, Tech averaged 6.3 wins per season. I hate to be that guy, but Texas Tech is not a blue blood program. We are mid-tier program and there is nothing wrong with that. I think Baylor’s rise post 2010 has a lot to do with Tech fans frustration when it comes to the state of the program, but outside of the remarkably consistent success under Mike Leach, Tech is hovering right around where it has historically. Take out Mike Leach’s 84 wins in 10 seasons and Tech, since 1960, is averaging 5.8 wins per season.

Are we all feeling pretty terrible at this point? 5.8 is not a pretty number. But, it does point to society and how our impatience for winning has changed our perception in the post-Leach era.

This is not to say that we can’t change all of that and be much much better going forward, and that simple idea to change that narrative of Tech football is also spurring on some of that impatience, but as of now, it is what it is.

I remember getting frustrated with schools hiring coaches for 5 year contracts and firing them after 3 years. I’ve always been a proponent of letting a coach play out his contract. Giving him every promised year to turn it around. Again, I am not deaf to the calls on Kingsbury’s extension after one year and how that might have been ill-advised, but at the time, reaction to it was almost universally positive with the information we had at the time.

Now it’s time for my Colorado soap box. Hate to say it, again, but Colorado is a better historical program than Texas Tech. They have a National Championship, a Heisman winner, a Big 12 championship and have played for a championship multiple times. Not counting this past year in the Pac-12. Why am I bringing up Colorado? Because of their Head Coach, Mike MacIntyre. MacIntyre got his first Head Coaching job in 2010 at San Jose State. Coached for three years before leaving for Colorado. Colorado hired him after going 16-21 at San Jose St, including two losing seasons of 1 and 5 wins respectively. Granted, an upward trend culminating in a 10 win season in 2012, but nonetheless, hired with a losing record at Colorado.

In his first three years at Colorado (2013-15), the Buffaloes went, 4-8, 2-10, 4-9. Last place in the division every year. In 2016, he took the Buffaloes to 1st in the Pac-12 North, a CFP Top 10 ranking at one point, and put them in the Pac-12 championship, all of which after they were predicted to finish dead last again prior to the season.


Kliff Kingsbury is everything Texas Tech wants in a head coach. He is an excellent representative of the university, he excels where he specializes, and to this point has had an excellent track record of keeping the program clean. Especially, when considering the unwanted publicity Oklahoma and Baylor have gotten for not handling player issues as well as they could or should have.

Kingsbury has had Tech’s offense in the Top 10 each of his seasons as Tech’s head coach, #8, #10, #2 and #1 respectively. Yes, the defense’s haven’t been great, but Tech has had defensive issues since 2010. At this point it’s a culture thing more than a coach thing. Look at Charlie Strong at Texas. Defensive head coach, and Texas still got lit up by most of the conference. Now Texas has hired the new “Coach Bro” in Tom Herman who thinks the best way to build a winning culture isn’t to demand excellence up to hold a rave during a workout and reward a 5-7 season with over the top new lockers...

Remember when we discussed Tuberville being a defensive minded head coach? His team scored a touchdown or less in 3 games.
1. 45-7 at Oklahoma in 2010
2. 41-7 vs Iowa State in 2011
3. 66-6 vs Oklahoma State in 2011 (Senior Day, and it was 66-3 with 3+ min left in the 3rd)

I guarantee you, Kingsbury doesn’t care how he wins games. He just wants to win. If him being in the defensive meetings is going to have an effect on how the defense plays, we have more of an issue at Texas Tech. Do we really think defensive coaches like Charlie Strong, Nick Saban, Les Miles, Bob Stoops, etc, are in offensive meetings directly working on schemes and plays they will run? I don’t see it happening. I see them telling the offensive coordinator, during the game, whether to go for in on 4th, or a 2pt conversion or to run out the clock, but anything more than that seems to be a stretch.

Kingsbury lives and breathes Texas Tech. This is his dream job. Let’s say he went 9 wins each year since he took over and USC came calling at the end of 2016 and threw him an offer of $6.5mil a year, base salary to coach the Trojans, I truly believe he turns it down. Not only would he be leaving Tech to whatever fate the next coach came in and did, but he’d be going to a situation with a lot bigger spotlight and where you don’t know if you’ll be fired before you get off the plane after a loss.

In a world where fans are ever more demanding of success, it’s time to give the coach Texas Tech needs every opportunity to do just that. Instead of blowing up the staff, losing recruits, transfer attrition, new Defensive Coordinator, dead-money sitting on the books and no guarantee that anything will be significantly better.

If Coach Dykes can get a 10 year extension after going 4-7 in 1990, is it too early to start thinking about a lifetime extension to Kingsbury? He just came off a 5 win season, had the #1 offense in the country and sent a player to the NFL who went 10th overall. Seems like he’s doing his job to me.

Let’s not be the school that is okay with a revolving door of coaches leaving to better programs if it means having a little marginal success.

Anything worth building takes time. Even if it means dealing with some down years in the process. One thing is for certain, no Tech coach other than Mike Leach would have survived the level of expectations fans today have for this program. Have high expectations, but don’t burn it down if expectations don’t happen to line up with reality. The future is brighter than most think. Especially if Kliff Kingsbury is the Head Coach of the Red Raiders.

I believe in Kliff Kingsbury. He is the coach that Texas Tech needs and if Tech has any hope of becoming the power house we briefly experienced from 2000-2009, only Kingsbury can lead us there.

He has four more seasons on his contract and I cannot wait to see where Texas Tech is under Kingsbury’s guidance in 2020. It might just be the best thing we have to look forward to that year.