Kliff Kingsbury, Baker Mayfield Relationship 'Good' After Texas Tech Fallout

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2019

Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, left, congratulates quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) after he scored a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Southern Methodist Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, in Dallas. Texas Tech won 41-23. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
LM Otero/Associated Press

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Wednesday his relationship with Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is in a "good place" after issues during their time together at Texas Tech in 2013 led Mayfield to transfer to Oklahoma.

"Obviously, I'd like to have that gone differently and handled things differently," Kingsbury told reporters. "You live and you learn, and I'm just glad we're in a good place now. Any of those guys I've ever worked with, I want [them] to be successful, and I appreciate the work that I was able to do with them."

Mayfield agreed: "It was a long time ago. We've talked since. Played against him a few times since. It's exactly that: We're in a good place."

In 2013, Kingsbury, a Texas Tech alum, was a first-time head coach with the Red Raiders after bouncing around the NFL and CFL as a reserve quarterback. Mayfield was a true freshman walk-on who took over the starting job after an injury to Michael Brewer.

He helped lead the team to a 5-0 start before suffering a knee injury that allowed Davis Webb to take the reins of the offense.

Kingsbury stuck with Webb when Mayfield returned to full strength, and the team's promising start began to fizzle out—Tech reached 7-0 before losing its final five games of the regular season—before the current Browns starter returned to the lineup.

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In 2014, Mayfield told ESPN's Jake Trotter that being left in the dark by the coaching staff about his role, combined with uncertainty about his scholarship status, led him to leave the program:

"Well, a lot of things played into it. It was over time. When I got hurt, there was no communication between me and my coach. When I got healthy, I didn't know why I wasn't playing right away. At that time, we were losing a couple games in a row. I was still clueless as to why I wasn't playing. That was really frustrating for me because I started the first five games and we won. So, I just didn't really know exactly what he was thinking or what the situation was. So that happened.

"And then going from a week-to-week basis not knowing whether I was going to play or not and how short the leash would be if I had an average half, how quickly I would be pulled or anything like that. It was making me uncomfortable, and I just didn't want to be there anymore. I loved Lubbock and I loved my teammates. But going through that and then them tell me they're still working on a scholarship for next fall, and I wouldn't have one for this semester coming up. It was all that."

It has worked out fine for everybody involved. Kingsbury continued his rapid rise through the coaching ranks to become the Cardinals head coach in January, and Mayfield won the 2017 Heisman Trophy with the Sooners before becoming the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft.

There seemingly aren't any lingering hard feelings as Arizona (3-9-1) and Cleveland (6-7) prepare to face off in Week 15 on Sunday. The Browns need a win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.