CFN Analysis: Kliff Kingsbury to Texas Tech
Posted Dec 12, 2012

Kliff Kingsbury to take over the Texas Tech head coaching job ... what does it mean?

By Matt Zemek
E-mail Matt Zemek

Either Kliff Kingsbury or Chad Morris was going to become Texas Tech's newest head coach. The biggest winner of this process? Kingsbury himself. The second-biggest winner? Clemson.

Texas Tech also wins here, but in the short term, not in the way you might first think.

Kingsbury's ascension to the top spot in Lubbock creates several fascinating storylines, but given Tech's place in the Big 12 over an extended period of time, the most important national story is that Clemson – unlike Tech, a recent BCS bowl participant – gets to keep its difference-making offensive coordinator for another season, barring an improbable series of events.

In these weeks after the ouster of Gene Chizik at Auburn, it was particularly apparent that Gus Malzahn was more central to Auburn's ascendancy in 2010 (though Chizik deserves all the credit in the world for hiring Malzahn as his offensive coordinator). Similarly, it is felt in much of the college football community that Morris – the offensive coordinator, not the head coach – is the man who is most responsible for turning Clemson into a 10-win program and the 2011 ACC champion. With Morris losing in his bid to become Texas Tech's coach, Dabo Swinney – the Chizik of Clemson – gets his key coordinator for 2013. It is hard to see how Morris will remain a coordinator in 2014, but Clemson and Swinney have been given one more year in which to max out on offense. The Tigers get Florida State at home, so the table is set for them.

The other big national story is that Texas A&M, slayer of Alabama and legitimate contender in the SEC, must now wonder if Kevin Sumlin will be able to carry on without Kingsbury. It's worth pointing out that before serving as offensive coordinator under Sumlin at A&M, Kingsbury was on Sumlin's staff for four years at Houston. The two men enjoyed such pronounced chemistry in their working relationship, and now, Sumlin has to find a new play caller and teacher for his offense.

It's true that Sumlin's successful tenure at Houston and his big 2012 season at A&M reinforce the notion that Sumlin can stand on his own, something that Dabo Swinney has not yet proven in relationship to Chad Morris. Yet, the extent to which Kingsbury helped Sumlin to flourish will inevitably remain a question – and a legitimate one – until the Aggies back up their 2012 results with an appreciably comparable follow-up act.

Now, we get to the Texas Tech portion of this latest go-round on the coaching carousel.

Texas Tech is a winner in all this, but not because Kingsbury is somehow poised to make the Red Raiders better than they were under Mike Leach. Kingsbury has to show that he can match what Leach produced, namely, a lot of nine-win seasons and that 2008 masterpiece that created a three-way Big 12 South Division tie with Texas and Oklahoma.

Texas Tech is a winner because Tommy Tuberville – the man who slapped a graduate assistant on the side of the head this past season and got out of Lubbock (and a dining area with recruits) as fast as he possibly could – was in no position to give the Red Raiders his full attention and commitment. Tuberville's personal life has been marked by multiple traumas over the past 12 months, and so Texas Tech has to be thrilled that it has a coach who can give his all to the Red Raiders.

The other thing to appreciate about this move for Texas Tech is that it is hiring a person who will, at least on offense, bring back the full Mike Leach approach. Tuberville wanted to make the Red Raiders more of a defense-first team, but with Leach's players, it was hard for him to make that cultural and structural transition, much as Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges has struggled to coach Rich Rodriguez's players in recent years. Now, Texas Tech has regained a clear identity, and that's a definite plus for a program that had lost its way over the previous three years.

Will the Red Raiders do what they did in 2008 now that Kingsbury is back in Lubbock? It's too early to say so. Has Texas Tech already washed away the bitter taste of the Tuberville era and regained a sense of purpose. Definitely. That, in and of itself, makes this a decidedly positive day for the Double T Nation.