Texas Tech’s Firing of Kliff Kingsbury Remains a Haunting Mistake
Its time for the Texas Tech program to admit they made a catastrophic mistake. It was November 25th, 2018, and the Red Raiders announced they would be firing their head coach Kliff Kingsbury after six seasons. Kingsbury only had a 35-40 record as head coach, but inherited a program in shambles. Kingsbury had already coached Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes and assisted their flight to the NFL. Kliff Kingsbury saw something in those two young men what few did and both became top NFL Draft picks.
In his final season at Texas Tech, Alan Bowman then a true freshman, looked well on his way to being the next in line of great QB play at the school. Tech was 5-3 before Bowman went down with a collapsed lung and was done for the year. The Red Raiders lost five consecutive games to the end the season, however you may recall Tech nearly upset both the Sooners and Longhorns in one-possession nail biters at home. They also lost a close game at Iowa State, then a loss to Kansas State, and finally there was the neutral site loss to Baylor. Texas Tech was trying to figure out who their new QB was going to be. Was it Jett Duffey, or McLane Carter? They never came to a complete resolution, and despite that were very competitive down the stretch. Kirby Hocutt proved to be a worse athletic director than he was as chair for the College Football Playoff selection committee. He let go the prize of the offseason in Kliff Kingsbury, who ended up with an NFL head coaching job with the Arizona Cardinals, for Matt Wells.
If you are going to fire a bright mind like Kingsbury that you know will be out of a job for a short period of time, especially given that he’s an alumn, you better hit it out of the park. Instead, Texas Tech hired a coach with no Power 5 head coaching experience in Matt Wells from Utah State.
To he credit, he was coming off a great season and was a guy a few programs took a look at. But don’t forget, Kingsbury was quickly named the offensive coordinator at USC, before then accepting the job to be the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. Fast forward almost twp years and he is sitting in position to coach those Cardinals into the NFL Playoffs. Matt Wells inherited a program in a better situation than what Kingsbury had inherited, and now two seasons in that once-promising star Alan Bowman has apparently regressed so much, that he has been benched for a Utah State transfer in Henry Colombi. Is he better than Bowman? Has he shown potential to be? Resounding no for both. Bowman would be wise to hit the NCAA transfer portal and get the heck out of Lubbock anyways. He can jump off the sinking ship.
Just how bad has it been for Texas Tech? Besides upsetting West Virginia, Texas Tech does not even look like they belong in a Group of 5 league this season. They surrendered nearly 600 passing yards to an FCS school in Houston Baptist, somehow lost a football game in which they had a 15-point lead with less than two minutes to play against Texas, and quite frankly look like a high school team.
Going to Lubbock used to be frightening, even for the best teams in the league, and it just doesn’t have that feel anymore. Heck at this point, I would not be surprised if Les Miles and the Jayhawks go to Lubbock in the last week of the regular season and pick themselves up a win. This will be the second year in a row Kansas and Texas Tech are the laughing stocks of the Big 12 conference. But here is the difference: Texas Tech has skilled players on both sides of the ball. The Red Raiders have the talent of a bowl team, but the results just aren’t there. Why is that? Matt Wells is now 6-13 as the head coach in Lubbock, and a third of those victories have come against FCS programs.
In the age of “win now”, these lower-tier programs with potential like Texas Tech need to be patient and give their guys a ridiculous amount of time. Sometimes you trade a top shelf coach like Kliff Kingsbury for a Matt Wells, and now the fans and university will pay for it. Clearly Hocutt and the university didn’t do their homework, and it’s setting their program back in brutal fashion.
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