As we hit the home stretch in the 2018 recruiting season, the Red Raiders continue to struggle. According to the 247Sports team rankings, Texas Tech is ranked 65th in the country. The Red Raiders are one spot away from having the worst recruiting class in the Big 12, and yes, they’re one spot behind the Kansas Jayhawks, a program that has won a total of three Big 12 games since Charlie Sheen’s meltdown (that’s 2011, incase you forgot).
By comparison, here is what the recent recruiting classes have ranked under Kingsbury:
2017: 49th nationally (No. 6 in Big 12)
2016: 44th nationally (No. 6 in Big 12)
2015: 32nd nationally (No. 3 in Big 12)
2014: 40th nationally (No. 6 in Big 12)
2013: 46th nationally (No. 7 in Big 12)
So to see this team’s recruiting class likely to tumble more than 20 spots, on average, compared to recent seasons, should be concerning. Also, when you factor in that a school like Kansas State always over recruits based on its rankings (and added a big transfer product in former 4-star WR Hunter Rison, which doesn’t count towards the rankings), it might be fair to say Texas Tech is going to end up with the worst recruiting class in the Big 12 conference.
Following their emotional comeback win against Texas in the regular season finale that made the Red Raiders bowl eligible, Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt announced that Kingsbury would be returning for 2018. But one thing Kingsbury didn’t get was any kind of extension. Basically, he could keep coaching as a lame duck head coach. Congrats!
Granted, Kingsbury’s in the middle of a seven-year contract that ends in 2020, but tacking on an additional year or two to the deal would signify Tech is putting its money where its mouth is in regards to its head coach.
Would it be bad business to give a small extension to a guy you might fire in one year anyway? Absolutely. But college football is full of bad business decisions (cough, cough, Bret Bielema). Unfortunately, it’s part of the game. You have to pay to play, even if it’s bad for the bottom line.
But guess what, it would’ve been cheaper to give Kingsbury a small extension, even if you fire him after next season, than fire him following the 2017 campaign, pay him a buyout and then have to hire a new head coach and an entire new staff.
As a result, Tech has only hurt itself in this recruiting process. It’s got to be incredibly easy to recruit against Kliff Kingsbury right now. “Oh, young man, you don’t want to go to Lubbock, because it’s a 50/50 chance you will be playing for the same staff that is currently recruiting you.” And yep, that’s probably true. If Kingsbury regresses to 5-7 or 4-8 this season, can Tech continue to keep him? That would make for a sub-.500 season for the third-straight season and for the fourth time in six seasons. And when you look at what’s coming back, combined with how deep the Big 12 is, a bowl appearance isn’t a guarantee.
Tech does have a few solid recruits coming in, led by four-star wide receiver Erik Ezuanma, a top 50 WR from Keller, Texas, plus four-star wide receiver Gabriel Douglas from Denton, TX. Four of Texas Tech’s top five signees or commits are wide receivers. Of course, that position has been the least of the Red Raiders’ problems in recent seasons.
Regardless, if Kingsbury wins next season, he will likely get his small extension and all will be well, or at least better. But he’s likely also having trouble, for the time being, with 2019 recruits, who have to see how next fall plays out before seriously considering what Texas Tech has to offer. So while the rest of the bottom half of the Big 12, sans Kansas, continues its upward mobility (Texas, Iowa State, Baylor), the Red Raiders are stuck in the mud with no apparent end in sight.