Kliff Kingsbury is headed back to Texas Tech. Athletic director Kirby Hocutt video-tweeted the hire on Wednesday evening
— Kirby Hocutt (@kirbyhocutt) December 12, 2012
The former Red Raider quarterback standout will coach the program where he passed for over 12,000 career yards between 1999 and 2002. His work as Texas A&M’s offensive coordinator this season and Houston’s the previous two fostered a pair of top flight quarterbacks in Case Keenum and Johnny Manziel.
Kingsbury was a Mike Leach pupil, who sued Texas Tech after his 2009 firing. The connection was obviously no deterrent for either party; Tech moved quickly in landing one of the hottest assistant coaches in college football. Kingsbury is the latest coach to bloom into a leading role out of the Leach coaching tree. Before him were Dana Holgorsen and Art Briles, both of whom Kingsbury will see in conference play at West Virginia and Baylor; East Carolina’s Ruffin McNeill; and new Cal head coach Sonny Dykes.
The spread offense Kevin Sumlin and Kingsbury brought to A&M far exceeded expectations of how such a system would work in the SEC. Their spin on the spread varies from what Leach employed while leading Tech to 10 consecutive bowl bids.
Leach’s air raid was almost exclusively predicated on the pass. Both Houston and Texas A&M passed at prolific paces, but each mixed a healthy balance with the rush. Charles Sims and Michael Hayes teamed up for 248 carries, 20 touchdowns and over 1500 yards for Houston in 2011. Ben Malena and Christine Michael combined for 218 carries, 19 touchdowns and over 1100 yards in the A&M offense, with the added dimension of freshman quarterback Manziel racking up 1181 yards on 184 carries.
Despite its ugly split with Leach, Texas Tech’s identity was its uptempo offense. Tommy Tuberville brought on Neal Brown, who in 2009 had Troy ranked No. 19 in the nation in scoring, to keep the Red Raiders playing uptempo.
Nevertheless, Tuberville was never the right fit at Texas Tech. The Red Raiders never finished .500 or above in Big 12 Conference in his three seasons there. Each of the last two seasons, Texas Tech faltered late in the season after scoring an impressive win midway through the campaign (Oklahoma in 2011, West Virginia this year). The late season struggles of 2011 resulted in Tech’s first losing season since 1992.
Kingsbury won’t have to make major overhauls to the Red Raider offense. The defensive staff a young Kingsbury brings to Lubbock will be critical in his efforts to return Tech to the chase for Big 12 supremacy. Defense vexed this year’s Red Raiders, which started strong against lesser competition, but surrendered 52 or more four times down the stretch and 34 to anemic Kansas.