Over the past several years, Red Raiders have grown accustomed to two traditions in December….Christmas and bad news for Red Raider football. From dramatic news stories like Tuberville’s infamous recruiting dinner dine and dash and Mike Leach’s conversational firing to more subtle bad news like losing a 5-star QB at the last minute and multiple defensive coordinators being fired, the month of December has rarely disappointed in the bad news department in recent years. Red Raider fans instinctively turn the calendar to December 1st and brace themselves for the oncoming storm. This December didn’t go off script either. On the first day of the month, Coach Kingsbury confirmed that defensive assistants Trey Haverty, Kevin Curtis and Mike Smith were released by Texas Tech. In fact, it came out a few days later that these guys were told before the season this would be their last season with the team and yet they decided to stick around for the team. Admirable to say the least! To digress for just a second, I know I speak for true Red Raider fans everywhere when I say good luck gentlemen and thanks for representing Texas Tech in such an honorable manner.
That sentiment is part of the reason this December news feels a little different. There was no rumormongering or controversy. There’s no denying that losing coaches hurts, but with stability at the defensive coordinator position for the first time in a long time this feels like progress. There are two things everyone knows about coaching….First, it isn’t a easy gig. Being fired happens to almost every coach at some point in their career with very few exceptions. Secondly, coaches like working with coaches with which they have a connection. That is where this falls for me. DC Gibbs wants to bring in his own coaches.
So where does Tech go from here? Realistically they haven’t shown the ability to pay assistants as much as the college blue bloods so they have to take chances on guys that may not have the coaching pedigree they would prefer. However my bold proclamation is that I don’t think these hires could have near the impact the that the head coach could have for next year’s defense.
I think Coach Kingsbury needs to step back and become a true head coach. That means putting the team’s needs in front of his own desire to have a high-flying offense. The first and most obvious reason is the defense the past two seasons has lacked depth and the 2016 version will probably not be much different from a depth standpoint. This means they need as much time on the sideline as possible to refresh and regroup. The hurry up offense is good situationally, but ranking #108 in the nation in time of possession typically doesn’t help your defense. That may mean Tech would trade a few offensive points for a better defense but that is worth it to me.
Another example of Kingsbury’s offensive involvement hurting the team is the West Virginia 2-point conversation fiasco late in the fourth quarter. If Coach Kingsbury wasn’t calling offensive plays, he would have had the situational awareness to have planned the strategy after the touchdown. While it ultimately didn’t cost Tech the game (penalties didn’t allow the Tech offense to get the ball back), it could have. I have no illusions of this happening though, but it would seem to me that it would help the Red Raiders exponentially.
I hope all Red Raider fans’ December consists of a nice Christmas, no bad football news and a win over the LSU Tigers. Why not also throw in an improved defense in 2016 based on a more engaged head coach.
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