Kliff Kingsbury, 34, has now passed the one year mark at Texas Tech University but with recruiting and signing day over and spring practice around the corner he’s had little time to reflect on the ride.
The air raid quarterback returned to his alma mater in December 2012 to take on the position of head coach. It was a meteoric rise for Kingsbury following successful stints at the University of Houston and Texas A&M as the offensive coordinator. With the hiring, he became the youngest coach in any BCS-automatic qualifying conference.
Kingsbury and his young Red Raiders got off to a fast start logging seven wins in a row, only to lose the last five before capping off the season with a win over Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl.
Kingsbury said it’s been a roller-coaster this season but is grateful for it and it was a good lesson early. “I had to learn how to handle success and then handle failure then wrap it up and continue to believe in each other,” said Kingsbury. “I’m more proud of how it ended and I think next year’s team learned from that.”
Kingsbury sat down with me ahead of the annual DFW Red Raider Review and said that while the year has largely been a blur, because of the work required of a head coach, there have been a few takeaways. He said that makes for earlier mornings and later evenings.”I’ve got to learn to delegate a little better. You try to take everything on to be the offensive coordinator, be the offensive play caller, head coach…administrator,” said Kingsbury. “I mean when you’re the offensive coordinator you’re just dialing up plays, calling up plays and any issues that come up you’re shoving on to your head coach. Now it all comes your way.”
CHALLENGES OF THE JOB
One of the issues that fell in Kingsbury’s lap last year had to do with the departure of freshman walk-on quarterback Baker Mayfield. The relationship wasn’t strained and he was actually shocked when he learned Mayfield had decided to leave. He said he wished him well but said he didn’t see it coming. The same can also be said for the exit of Michael Brewer who announced he will also be leaving. Still, Kingsbury said he’s not worried and points out the success and development of sophomore Davis Webb.
He said he is also particularly excited about wide receiver Ian Sadler of Argyle. “You hate to make a Wes Welker comparison but very similar type of game and they both played elite level soccer. We expect him to play right away,” said Kingsbury.
He still stays in touch with his mentors like Dana Holgerson, Art Briles and Kevin Sumlin and said those guys help coach him up while he coaches up his new crop of talent. That’s what’s ultimately important to him making sure these guys turn into good men both on the field and off of it.
This year, he said he hopes that’s where the focus goes…to his players. The media loved discussing his Hollywood looks and his suits and admits the comparisons to Ryan Gosling are flattering but said enough already. “All pub is good pub for the program so you run with but you want it to be more about the players because they’re the ones going out there each and every week and putting their bodies on the line.”