Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 7/2/13
There is a lot of excitement at Texas Tech after the Red Raiders hired former quarterback Kliff Kingsbury as their head coach shortly after former head football coach Tommy Tuberville left three recruits and several assistants in the middle of dinner at Lubbock’s popular “50 Yard Line” and bolted for Cincinnati back in December.Kingsbury was the general of Mike Leach’s first “air raid” offense from 1999 to 2002 and amassed 1,231 completions on 1,883 attempts for 12,429 yards with 95 touchdowns and 40 interceptions in 48 games.He started one of those games his freshman season in 1998 and helped the Red Raiders upset Oklahoma and give Spike Dykes a win in his final game as the Texas Tech head coach.  Kingsbury was only the third quarterback to pass for 10,000 yards when he finished his college career with a 55-10 victory over Clemson in the Tangerine Bowl. Kingsbury won the Sammy Baugh Trophy his senior year given to the nation’s best passer each year.Kingsbury didn’t have a very productive professional career which lasted from 2003-2007 but he did manage to pick up a Super Bowl ring with Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. In 2008 Kingsbury took a quality control position under head coach Kevin Sumlin at The University of Houston. When offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen left for Oklahoma State, Sumlin promoted Kingsbury to Co-offensive coordinator and quarterback’s coach. By 2011 Kingsbury was calling all the offensive plays and Houston lead the nation in most offensive statistical category. Kingsbury followed Kevin Sumlin to Texas A&M as offensive coordinator and coached Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manzeil and one of the top offenses in the country. Former Aggie linebacker Brian Gamble was quoted as saying “There’s a joke in the coaching business that Kliff got the biggest promotion in college football history."He went from (the entry-level position of offensive) quality control assistant to offensive coordinator in two years. Who does that? Obviously, he proved a lot to coach (Kevin) Sumlin in a very short time. Now, look at him. He’s the OC of an SEC school. At 32," According to  12th Man magazine’s  Rusty Burson.Guess what Brian, he was promoted again. This time to head football coach of his alma mater Texas Tech. From quality control coach in 2008 to head football coach of a division 1 program in 2013.  Gamble was right. Who does that? Kliff Kingsbury is who. Credit athletic director Kirby Hocutt for wasting no time after Tuberville’s exit in naming the hottest young coach in division 1 football and Texas Tech alumni Kingsbury as Texas Tech’s next head coach. Hocutt immediately healed the fractured relationship between the athletic department and their student body and alumni. Tuberville never jelled in Lubbock. Kingsbury was the best hire for Texas Tech. The student body and alumni will be more patient with the former Red Raider who kicked off the Leach era with one of Tech’s eleven consecutive bowl appearances opposed to Tuberville who had ended the streak in 2011.There was an immediate euphoria among the Red Raiders fan base who remember Kliff’s heroics while playing at Texas Tech and the fact Kingsbury’s offenses have been among the tops in the country his three years as an offensive coordinator. I have heard coaches question if he has the experience to manage a big time program.Remember Kliff was not just standing around twiddling his thumbs from 2003-2007. He played in the NFL for 4 teams.  I’m not including his two week layover in Denver in September of 2005.  He saw how successful organizations like the Patriots did things while learning the even more complex offensive systems of the NFL and the Patriots in general.Success in 2013 might have more to do with how healthy the defense can stay. A defense that is thin at many positions. The Red Raider defense has been banged up the past three seasons. There may not be a team in the Big 12 that’s had as many injuries as the Red Raiders the past three seasons. Combine that with the carousel of defensive coordinators which will be three in past three seasons and it usually will not compute to big defensive numbers.The Red Raiders have to have more big plays and namely turn overs in 2013 to be successful. The Red Raiders have been dead last in the Big 12 the past two seasons and that has to improve if they are going to be able to return to the upper echelon of the Big 12 conference which has not been the case since the end of the Leach era.Turnovers will translate to offensive production in Kingsbury’s version of the “Air Raid” offense. Play-makers like Raiders back Terrance Bullitt, who was a preseason 2nd team All Big 12 linebacker in 2012, have got to stay healthy.Terrance re-injured his surgically repaired shoulder last season after a very promising 2011. Unless some young players emerge on defense there is not enough depth on defense to absorb many losses like Bullitt. Young emerging talent may be harder to find in Lubbock this season since Kingsbury’s recruiting started late due to his late hiring, and Tuberville’s abrupt exit in December.This was not one of Tech’s better recruiting classes who had been in the top twenty-five in many publications over the past five years. They were picked last of the Big 12 recruiting classes in many polls after national signing day.Recruiting rankings have not always mattered in Lubbock. One thing is for sure. If the Red Raiders are to be successful in 2013 they have to create more turn overs and avoid the injury bug of the past three seasons.Regardless,  the fans in Lubbock, Texas are once again excited for Red Raiders football not seen since the pirate left town.ReferencesBill Connelly: SB NationWikipedia Rusty Burson: 12th Man Magazine
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