The overarching belief going into this season is that for Coach Kliff Kingsbury to retain his job, he will need to win at least 6 games and maybe win a bowl game. Suppose the team finishes 6-7 again, making it to a bowl game and then losing. Would it be worth it to hit the reset button on such a promising future for the team?
Yes, I believe that Coach Kingsbury has had more than enough time to make this team into a consistent 8-win program, but that hasn’t happened yet. Why? Well, the way he recruited his teams in the early stages of his tenure here were not good. They were mainly focused on offensive guys and although you had a couple of defensive gems in the mix such as Dakota Allen and Jah’Shawn Johnson, you really didn’t have much in the way of defensive depth.
That seemed to change with recent classes as this year is the first year that the defense is not only talented in the first string but in the second and and even in some spots third string as well. Kingsbury also had a ton of guys transfer in past years. Guys like Brendon Fehoko, Corey Dauphine, Jonathan Giles, and Tony Brown, some of which were core starters that made a profound impact on the team. Out of your 2015 recruiting class, less than half are making contribution to this team. Out of the top 10 recruits from that year, only 2 of them are still on the team. One of those guys was Keke Coutee so I give them a bit of a pass on that one but still only 30% of your top guys stayed to make an impact? That is awful for any program, especially one trying to find its way to wins.
The recruiting class of 2016 is where Kingsbury really seemed to hit his stride recruiting. This is also when David Gibbs took over as defensive coordinator. The thing that really sticks out to me on this recruiting class is that although not every one of them is a gem or a star, most of them are either starters or quality depth at their respective positions. Most of these guys are redshirt sophomores or juniors and they are starting to make their presence felt big time. Guys like TJ Vasher, Da’Leon Ward, Jordyn Brooks, and many more guys that are quality depth on this team. This is the year that the class of 2016 needs to step it and Kingsbury has only gotten better at recruiting since but this is the year that the class of 2016 needs to step it up and if that doesn’t turn into wins, will he be allowed to stay?
The short answer is no, he won’t. If Kingsbury can’t get 6 wins out of this team, I know for sure he won’t be returning to Lubbock in 2019. I believe he got a pass for only winning 6 games last year because the defense was younger. He wont get that kind of pass this year as I think 6 games is borderline for Kingsbury. A stat that bothers me for Kingsbury is that since the turn of the century, there have only been 4 Red Raider teams that have finished with a record below .500 and Kliff Kingsbury was the head coach in 3 of them. Recruiting is not the only thing that makes me wonder if Kingsbury will get a pass for another 6-win season, as his coaching staff choices over the last couple of years has grown steadily better.
This season will obviously be the make or break for Coach Kingbury if he can’t coach this team to a 6-win season. Can he survive for another year if he does the bare minimum and coaches this team to a second straight 6-7 season. With his buyout at 2.5 million is it worth it to cut ties with potentially the entire coaching staff and start anew? There is more to this question than Kingsbury and the win-loss record. The main question most Red Raider fans have is whether you just promote David Gibbs and make changes to the offense only. But the main issue with that is that Gibbs has made it known plenty of times that he doesn’t want to be a head coach and any request from the university to do so will most likely be met with a denial. If Gibbs denies a request to become the head coach, the only other option would be to hit the reset button on the entire program, leading to probable transfers, and de-commitments from high-profile recruits. Kingsbury and Gibbs have built a good rapport with recruits, making them crucial to getting the guys they want in the program.
If these new recruiting classes can make an immediate impact on the field, that makes it harder for Kirby Hocutt to fire Coach Kingsbury after the season, even with a bad season. With Kingsbury’ contract not officially ending until 2020, would it maybe be worth it to fire him now if he’s finally found the formula to developing players and making them into a good team? Fortunately, that’s not for us to decide but it’s definitely interesting for us to speculate.
Do you think Kingsbury returns to Lubbock in 2019? Let us know in the comment section below!