For years now, Red Raider fans have argued about #KeepKliff versus #FireKliff.
At first, it was all sunshine and rainbows. The prodigal son had returned and he was going to make Texas Tech great again, and then he didn’t and we were done with him. His firing has been described as one of the nicest firings in college football. Players and coaches praised him. Kirby Hocutt got a little teary eyed at the press conference. If it was so hard to fire him, why did we?
People tend to forget that this was Kingsbury’s first job as head. He was an OC at Houston and at Texas A&M only for a little while. He did not have much guidance. He did not have much experience. When he came to Texas Tech, he had no idea what he was doing, but he accepted the challenge. As fans, we could not expect him to be perfect right off the bat. Mike Leach had at least 10 years experience as offensive coordinators before he was hired at Texas Tech. He had coached at seven different schools. Kliff did not, so it obviously took him a little while to figure out what worked and what didn’t.
I am convinced he was on the verge of greatness at Texas Tech and we took that opportunity from him. Kingsbury finally had everything in place. He had the right recruits. He had the right coaches. He just had the worst of luck. His entire tenure at Texas Tech will always be known for it’s “what ifs”. What if Pat had stayed another year? What if Bowman had been healthy? What if more fans showed up to the football games? What if his entire team was healthy. Let’s not forget we finished the season using our fourth-string quarterback.
As a community, we should have fought for him as hard as he fought for us. I met Kliff Kingsbury on more than one occasion. His incredible kindness is hard to surpass. We have all heard the stories of all the ways he gave back to his strongest supporters. I lost my father to cancer in September. He was quick to offer his condolences as soon as he found out. He offered encouragement through my thesis research and a huge hug when it was all over. He never said no to anyone that asked for a hug, a high-five, or a picture. He was genuinely interested in people’s life’s and what they had to say. I have seen him sit and listen to veterans and their stories. I have seen him offer encouragement to cancer patients. I have seen him sit with little kids to ask them about their art. He loved this community and we gave up on him too soon.
Kliff Kinsgbury is and always will be a great Red Raider. I have no doubt that he will do amazing things with his career. I was twelve-years-old when I first watched him play. I have seen him chase NFL dreams that were not meant to be. I have seen him hit rock bottom and get right back up again. With the right guidance, I know he will succeed. I am just sad that this success will not happen here at Texas Tech—the place where he really wanted to be successful.