The Texas Tech Red Raiders could potentially move on from head coach Kliff Kingsbury at the end of the 2018 season and may already have their sights on a possible replacement.
The Austin American-Statesman's Kirk Bohls tweeted Thursday he'd "be very surprised if [Kingsbury] survives this season at Texas Tech." Bohls also reported the Red Raiders would "will look seriously" at Clemson Tigers defensive coordinator Brent Venables in the event they fire Kingsbury.
During an appearance on his weekly radio show with a station in Lubbock, Texas, athletic director Kirby Hocutt expressed a level of frustration with the state of the team under Kingsbury (h/t the Dallas Morning News' Chuck Carlton):
"There are certain fundamental areas that continue to plague us as I mentioned earlier. It's discipline, it's penalties. That's a fundamental aspect of football is the discipline and eliminating penalties. ... Defensively, we've seen improvement especially against the run. We've stopped the run this year. We're still giving up an awful lot of yardage on the passing game."
By targeting Venables, Hocutt would make his priorities clear.
Venables is the 2016 winner of the Broyles Award, which goes to the top assistant coach, and one of the best defensive minds in college football. Clemson gave him a five-year, $11.6 million extension in July, a salary that speaks to how much Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney values Venables on his staff.
Hocutt would clearly hope Venables could turn around a Red Raiders defense that has been routinely terrible under Kingsbury.
Kingsbury has helped Texas Tech reach three bowl games and can deliver a fourth should the Red Raiders beat the Baylor Bears on Saturday. Kingsbury's status as a school legend gives him a level of equity with the fans as well.
Still, the team's general lack of improvement on defense provides Hocutt with ample reason to part ways with Kingsbury if that's what he ultimately decides.
Going to Venables would likely end an era of Texas Tech football. The Red Raiders would shift away from the high-scoring aerial attacks with which they've become synonymous. But that move might be necessary for the program to become a genuine Big 12 title contender.