As a quarterback for the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the early 2000s, Kliff Kingsbury was a legend of the air raid offense, a record-setting passer, and a guy nobody would ever forget. All of that remains true, but it’s just too bad his career as the head coach in Lubbock didn’t pan out quite as well.
After six seasons and compiling a 35-40 overall record, including 19-35 in Big 12 games, Kingsbury was fired. A 35-24 loss to Baylor over the weekend certainly wasn’t the reason, but it was the crowning blow. The program’s fifth-straight loss and third-straight losing season was finally enough for athletic director Kirby Hocutt to make a change.
“It’s not based on one game. This type of decision is not based on one season. This decision was made based on a three-year pattern, a three-year pattern of inconsistency,” Hocutt said. “We saw progress, but we also saw lapses of progress in key critical areas.”
This couldn’t have been an easy decision considering his popularity with the fan base and the fact this was his dream job. Kingsbury was hired after Tommy Tuberville abruptly left Texas Tech for Cincinnati in December 2012, and it was a moved everyone was excited about.
The Red Raiders were getting a famous alum — the Associated Press National Offensive Player of the Year who threw for over 12,000 yards with 95 touchdowns — to return to be the coach of the future. It was the perfect situation for the football program.
Despite starting the 2013 campaign with a 7-0 record, it was a roller coaster ride over six years. Sure, there were stellar quarterbacks such as Baker Mayfield, Patrick Mahomes and Davis Webb to come through, but the team’s record, primarily due to a suspect defense, never really showed signs of significant growth.
At 39 years old, Kingsbury’s career as a coach is far from over. There’s no doubt he will land another gig very, very soon, and he will likely thrive with it. It just didn’t work out in Lubbock, which left him with one regret as he exits.
“It has been the honor of my life to be the Head Coach at Texas Tech and live in this community with the finest people in the world for the last six years. From the first day I stepped foot on campus as a freshman, I knew this place was home. In my heart, it always will be. This was never just a job to me. Texas Tech was a dream come true and I am sincerely humbled to have worked at a special place that I love so dearly.
“My only regret is that we didn’t get this program to the level that this University and community deserves.
“Please continue to take care of a support this football team. We have an incredible group of young men that I love and they are on the verge of doing some great things. I will always be Texas Tech and West Texas’ number one fan with my Guns Up forever! Thank You for all of your loyal support.” — Kliff Kingsbury
This didn’t have a fairy tale ending like everyone hoped, but it’s safe to say nobody will forget the Kliff Kingsbury Era at Texas Tech, either.