It was the offer of a lifetime for any young coach on the rise – the opportunity to return to your alma mater and lead them to championship contender.
Kliff Kingsbury is finally coming home. Texas Tech’s favorite son returns to the sidelines at Jones AT&T Stadium for the first time since he finished his playing career with 95 career touchdown passes. It was a year or two sooner than expected by most accounts, but there has not been a more desired coaching target by a fan base in recent memory, if not ever. The hire is a match made in Heaven for school desperate to return to their roots with an offense that hasn’t felt the same since Mike Leach was pushed out for off-field conduct a few years back.
Now the youngest head coach at a BCS school, and second youngest coach in FBS, Kliff returns as the golden boy after spending this season coaching Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel as offensive coordinator for the Aggies. He earned National Offensive Coordinator of the Year honors for the second time in two years.
For those who watched Kliff play, it is exciting to think of “what could be” after two average seasons under Tommy Tubberville. Kliff was a star in Lubbock from day one, when in his first start, he led Tech to an upset over Oklahoma by throwing over 250 yards and 4 touchdowns in the season, and head coach Spike Dykes, last game. Mike Leach arrived the next season and together the pair rewrote Texas Tech record books. Over the next three seasons, Kliff set 39 school records, 16 Big 12 marks, and 17 NCAA records (1999-2002).
After a brief and unsuccessful stint in both the NFL and CFL, Kliff retired from playing but was far from done with the game of football. He started coaching at the University of Houston before following Kevin Sumlin to Texas A&M this year.
Expect tortillas to fly in West Texas as fans welcome back their favorite player. Despite his youth (33), many feel he is up to the task to elevate Tech to contender status in the offensive-minded Big 12 Conference. And unlike their most recent coaching hire, don’t expect Kliff to leave Lubbock for quite a long time.