Why Kliff Kingsbury Isn't a Brilliant Hire for Texas Tech Coach
I'll get this out of the way right now: I have absolutely nothing against Kliff Kingsbury. In fact, I'm rooting for him to succeed at Texas Tech.
But I don't think Kingsbury is a great head coach hire at a BCS school, much less a school in a football-crazed state like Texas.
Kingsbury's coaching resume is extremely light, with only five years experience in the coaching capacity. Granted, Kingsbury has had great success at both Houston and Texas A&M, but is it possible that his great success was largely due to the luxury of having great quarterbacks to work with?
While Kingsbury was Houston's co-offensive coordinator (and eventually, its playcaller), quarterback Case Keenum was lighting up the scoreboards. Because of the incredible offensive numbers put up by the Houston Cougars, Kingsbury was named the 2011 Offensive Coordinator of the Year by FootballScoop.com.
Kingsbury then followed then-Houston coach Kevin Sumlin to Texas A&M and mentored quarterback Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner. Kingsbury was named the 2012 Offensive Coordinator of the Year for a second consecutive year.
Now, Kliff Kingsbury is the head coach of Texas Tech at the ripe old age of 33. True, Kingsbury has ties to the school; he played quarterback at Texas Tech from 1998 to 2002 under then-head coach Mike Leach.
But Kingsbury has no experience as a head coach, and all of his coaching experience, while impressive, is connected to outstanding quarterbacks at his disposal. The flip side to that argument is that due to Kingsbury's outstanding coaching skills, both Keenum and Manziel succeeded.
Did Kingsbury make the quarterbacks succeed, or is it vice versa? Maybe a little of both, but his lack of head coaching experience does beg the question: How have other coaches without extensive head coaching experience fared in BCS conferences as newly-hired head coaches?
Colorado's Jon Embree was out after two years. Charlie Weis had an impressive NFL coaching pedigree, but only had one year of head coaching at New Jersey's Franklin High School—he lasted five years at Notre Dame.
Perhaps the biggest example of how lack of head coaching experience can translate to a questionable hire is Gene Chizik. After two years as Iowa State's head coach, Chizik was hired as Auburn's head coach for the 2009 season.
How will Kingsbury do at Texas Tech after two years?
Chizik's Tigers won the 2010 BCS Championship, but many pundits point to quarterback Cam Newton as the reason why Auburn went 14-0 that year. Chizik was dismissed this year after posting an 8-5 and 3-9 record following that 2010 BCS Championship season. Chizik finished with a 33-19 record at Auburn, but without Cam Newton and that 14-0 magical season, he went 19-19.
Clearly, the quarterback made the coach succeed at Auburn.
Kingsbury could be the next Urban Meyer. He could also be the next Gene Chizik.
Debuting as a head coach in a BCS conference has a lot more pressure involved in it than doing it in a mid-major league such as the Sun Belt or MAC. Defense wins championships, as offensive guru and West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen found out this year in the Big 12. So did Texas head coach Mack Brown and Baylor head coach Art Briles.
I have no doubt Tech's offense will be prolific under quarterback Michael Brewer in 2013. But Kingsbury is responsible for the entire team's units, not just the offense, so he's not going to be getting a lot of hall passes in the Big 12.
Instead of coaching a team in a stepping stone conference for future great coaches, Kingsbury is coaching a team still smarting over the Mike Leach dismissal and the Tommy Tuberville departure to Cincinnati.
No pressure, no pressure at all, right?
Could Kliff Kingsbury be a great hire? Absolutely.
But "could" demands a question mark.
And right now, so does Texas Tech's hiring of Kliff Kingsbury.
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