The quick in and out of Todd Orlando is nothing more than a curious chapter in Tech’s history now that Matt Wells hired on Kevin Cosgrove as the new linebackers coach. Wait, who?
Still unfamiliar? That’s because Kevin Cosgrove spent his 2019 season as the leading defensive analyst on LSU’s national championship team. Cosgrove’s placement as an analyst might not have been the non-traditional route, given his 39 years of experience, but it nonetheless paid dividends for the Tigers. Following their national championship and Todd Orlando’s departure, the open linebacker’s position seemed poignant for a seasoned Cosgrove.
In the interview following the news of Cosgrove’s hire, Wells didn’t mince words with how he felt about the hire. “His defenses have always been well-prepared and aggressive over his career,” Wells stated, “which fits the culture we are looking to build here at Texas Tech.” Like I mentioned earlier: 39 years of experience in the collegiate arena. Twenty-two of those seasons were as a defensive coordinator. Cosgrove has been a mentor for over 50 NFL players including 16 All-Americans, four NFL first-round draft picks, a no. 1 overall NFL Draft selection and a Jim Thorpe Award winner (top defensive back).
Let’s step back and see Cosgrove’s long-winded journey to Lubbock.
KEVIN COSGROVE COACHING EXPERIENCE
1980-82 – Illinois Graduate Assistant
Spring of 1983 – Morehead State Assistant Coach (Linebackers)
1983-87 – Illinois Assistant Coach (Linebackers)
1988 – Southeast Missouri State Defensive Coordinator (Linebackers)
1989 – Colorado State Assistant Coach (Linebackers)
1990-94 – Wisconsin Assistant Coach (Linebackers)
1995-03 – Wisconsin Defensive Coordinator (Linebackers)
2004-07 – Nebraska Defensive Coordinator (Linebackers)
2009-10 – Minnesota Co-Defensive Coordinator (Linebackers)
2011 – Akron Defensive Coordinator (Defensive Ends)
2012-13 – New Mexico Assistant Coach (Inside Linebackers)
2014 – New Mexico Defensive Coordinator (Inside Linebackers)
2015-18 – New Mexico Defensive Coordinator (Linebackers)
2019 – LSU Lead Defensive Analyst
2020 – Texas Tech Assistant Coach (Linebackers)
The chunk of Cosgrove’s career has been as a defensive coordinator at P5 institutions, with a singular focus on the linebacking core. Though his stop in LSU pulled him back from the more intentional coaching role, his return to the fray isn’t unexpected. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to coach at Texas Tech,” he said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Wells, and I can’t thank him and the Texas Tech administration enough for the opportunity to join this staff. I look forward to getting to know our student-athletes over the coming months and working to help build a strong defensive culture here in Lubbock.”
Some highlights from his experience are titles and accolades from his time in Wisconsin; three Big ten titles, three Rose Bowl victories. Additionally Cosgrove’s statistical prowess during his time at Nebraska was illustrated by leading the country in sacks and tackles for loss in 2015. The Huskers were also ranked in the top 25 nationally for scoring defense and passing efficiency during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, topped off by seven Nebraska players earning All-Big 12 first or second team nods during Cosgrove’s tenure.
This year Texas Tech has four linebackers coming into the program with a few others already established on the roster. Cosgrove has the pick-of-the-litter when it comes to spread of talent and physical makeup, which truly is an incoming coach’s dream. We won’t get the all around picture of what kind of “strong defensive culture” Cosgrove is imagining for Lubbock, but the ceiling certainly is high.