Saturday, December 15, 2012

From the oggling stage to the delirious stage

Kliff Kingsbury. Texas Tech. Googly eyes. Etc.
Texas Tech has hired former quarterback Kliff Kingsbury as its new coach, the school announced Wednesday.

Kingsbury, 33, was offered the Tech job on Wednesday afternoon, and athletic director Kirby Hocutt announced the news of him accepting it with a video posted on Twitter not long after.

"Wreck 'em Tech," Kingsbury said in the video, giving the school's "Guns Up" sign when the camera panned to him.
/all of Lubbock faints simultaneously

So that's that; everybody's happy and therefore Texas Tech will go on to win the next eleventy hundred straight Big 12 titles. Or something. I'm pretty sure that's how it works. But I'm contractually obligated (not really) to produce some words here anyway, so here goes.

Kliff Kingsbury is 33 and has a coaching resume only slightly longer than mine. Five years ago, he was making less than $30K as a quality control something something at Houston; he's now making just a little more than that every week ($2 million annually). Like ... I mean ... dang, dude.

Here's the extent of his job history: Houston quality control something something in 2008 and '09, Houston quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator in 2010 and '11 and Texas A&M quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator in 2012. So he's had playcalling responsibilities for all of three years; he also was given playcalling responsibilities by one of the better offensive coaches in the country after two years of not even being a real assistant, which LOLWUT.

Here's a quote from Houston coach Tony Levine:
"The thing that stood out to me and that I don't know that everybody's aware of is how intelligent Kliff Kingsbury is. People talk about men and women in all different occupations at times as being brilliant, and Kliff has a brilliant mind. He's an outside-the-box thinker. He's extremely creative. And he's extremely organized. And he's got a memory as sharp as anyone I've been around." 
 /all of Lubbock swoons simultaneously

Of course, nobody outside than the Houston/A&M staffs really noticed any of that until OMG JOHNNY FOOTBALL HEISMANZIEL WOOO. But here are some numbers for context: 2010 Houston finished 11th in total yards, fifth in passing yards and 13th in scoring, 2011 Houston finished first in total yards, first in passing yards and first in scoring (swell) and 2012 Texas A&M finished the regular season third in total yards, 14th in passing yards and fourth in scoring (despite playing three of the top 11 scoring defenses in the country).

Given those numbers and the numbers Kingsbury put up back in the day under Mike Leach, who gives his quarterbacks a crapload of freedom at the line, it's probably reasonable to say this: Kliff Kingsbury is quite good at calling plays. Given the complete lack of all other potentially useful data, it's also reasonable to say this: There is absolutely no way to know if Kliff Kingsbury is any good at anything else related to being a head coach. Recruiting? No idea. Player development? No idea. System implementation? No idea. Game management? No idea. Staff assembly? No idea. He's never done literally any of those things anywhere. He's 33 and has been doing actual coach stuff for three years. Three years!

But he's a former player (and therefore can do no wrong, according to every fan base everywhere) and can do "Guns Up" like a mofo, so the celebration is nigh. A probably-not-really-serious tweet that's actually 1,000,000 percent correct:
@ralphDrussoAP: Tommy Tuberville has never been more popular in Lubbock.

Tommy Tuberville's problem was that he (a) wasn't a "Guns Up" lifer and (b) wasn't Mike Leach and therefore was Guy Who Follows Mike Leach And Eventually Gets Fired For Failure To Meet Unrealistic Goals; he just avoided the "gets fired" part by leaving of his own volition.

Leach coached at Tech for 10 years and had an average record of about 8-4, a median record of exactly 8-4 and an average record over the last five years of 9-4. Those numbers were all legitimately impressive because they were accomplished at Texas Tech, which (a) is nowhere and (b) isn't Texas or Oklahoma, the two programs that spent the entirety of Leach's tenure laughing at the rest of the conference. I mentioned this in my Tuberville post last week but will repeat it here: Spike Dykes made a career out of going about 7-5. At Texas Tech, that's ... like ... pretty decent.

Tuberville went 8-5 in his first year, 5-7 in his second year (which compelled him to bring in D-coordinator Art Kaufman, who put together a weirdly good defense) and then 7-5 this year. And that was cause for much rabbling; how much of that was pure win-loss rabbling and how much of it was he's-an-outsider rabbling is hard to say without being embedded in the war zone that is West Texas. At least Kingsbury won't have to deal with any of the latter. He will have to deal with the former, though, unless he literally is Mike Leach (or better), both in terms of philosophy and winning an inexplicable amount. Maybe he'll get a little leeway since he's Kliff Kingsbury; maybe he won't since being Kliff Kingsbury comes along with an assumption that the offense will be exactly as good as what it was when he was quarterback except with more wins (seven wins a year pffft).

I mean, Texas Tech finished the regular season second in the country in passing yards, seventh in the country in pass efficiency and 12th in the country in total offense (and in the top half of the conference in every relevant defensive stat); is significant improvement even possible? I dunno. Maybe it won't need to be if Kingsbury wins a decent amount and runs around doing stuff like this:

/all of Lubbock orgasms simultaneously

I mean, there is a hilarious lovefest going on right now at Tech blog Viva The Matadors. It's like Christmas morning combined with prom night combined with an explosion at the doughnut factory. For serious:
My kiddo refuses to say anything I ask him to say and I have asked him numerous times to say, “Wreck ’Em Tech.” I just played Kliff’s video with the sound up on the computer and my kid just said, “Wreck ’Em Tech.”
Even babies love him! There are (as of right now) 1,070 other comments, all of which are either similar to that or a celebratory gif. I guarantee that the reaction would've been less unanimously WWWHHEEEEE if Nick Saban had been hired since, I mean, will defense work in the Big 12?

And that's cool. He's basically Texas Tech's Brady Hoke, complete with press-conference teehees (Ohio!):
 "I was going to see if there's any way possible we can get Cincinnati on the schedule next year?"
/all of Lubbock fires real guns into air simultaneously

Except people were rightfully critical of Brady Hoke because of his relatively meh history that included only eight years of building something slightly better than decency at a couple programs that definitely weren't Michigan; nobody's critical of Kliff Kingsbury despite only three years of anything.

I actually like Kingsbury (he might be a genius and almost definitely knows how to run an offense) but have some valid concerns about whether he can do anything other than run an offense since the data is nonexistent. See about 10 paragraphs ago. If everybody loves him just because he's Kliff Kingsbury and regularly winning seven or eight games will be fine since he's Kliff Kingsbury, I'm sure he'll be fine. If everybody loves him because he's Kliff Kingsbury and therefore will make Texas Tech the most awesomest thing ever (even better than in the good ol' days but in a Big 12 that has nine legitimately competitive teams out of 10), I'm less sure he'll be fine. I guess it depends whether he can do all those things he hasn't had to do so far; in that regard, your guess is as good as mine.


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