Over the next several weeks, we will be catching up with the coaches preparing for their first season in a new location and/or role. From recruiting to staff moves and personnel decisions, we will take a look at how the first months have gone and preview the 2013 season ahead. Today, we look at Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Coaching experience: At 33 years old, Kingsbury doesn't have a lot of coaching experience and none as a head coach. He began his coaching career as an assistant at Houston in 2008, eventually becoming the co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for the 2010 and 2011 seasons. He then followed Kevin Sumlin to Texas A&M, where he was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach to one of the best offenses in the country last season. Kingsbury also tutored the first freshman player to ever win the Heisman Trophy, Johnny Manziel.
Reason for the change: After three seasons at Texas Tech, Tommy Tuberville surprised a lot of people when he left for Cincinnati in December. Considering Kingsbury's success at Texas A&M and the fact that he quarterbacked at Tech, he was the ideal replacement.
The First Months
2013 Recruiting Class Ranking (according to 247Sports.com): No. 46 nationally, No. 7 in the Big 12 (10 schools).
Notable Prospects: Kingsbury didn't have a lot of time to put together a class after taking over the program. Though Tech's class wasn't considered one of the top classes in the country, there were a few highly regarded players. Considering the offense that Kingsbury will run, receiver is a key position, and the Raiders got two good ones. There's four-star Gary Moore, who checks in 6-foot-6 and 221 pounds. That kind of size should prove to be a matchup problem for Big 12 corners. There's another four-star receiver in Devin Lauderdale, who, at 5-foot-10 and 167 pounds, was sought by schools like Alabama, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Lauderdale will be a perfect fit in the slot for Texas Tech.
Style Points: The transition from Tuberville to Kingsbury has been pretty smooth by all accounts. That's often not the case when a coach leaves unexpectedly and needs to be replaced, but there weren't many hotter names on the coaching circuit during the offseason than Kingsbury's. And considering Kingsbury's history in Lubbock, things couldn't have gone better.
Fan Reaction: By and large, Texas Tech fans seem to be thrilled with the hire. While Tuberville had some success in his three years at the school, he never really felt like a natural fit. Kingsbury, meanwhile, was already a fan favorite from his playing days and will bring back the kind of offense that the school saw during its best years under Mike Leach. Kingsbury also brings more personality to the position along with an edge that has been absent since Leach was fired.
Advantages: Kingsbury finds himself in a good position at Texas Tech. He's already popular among the fan base, which will buy him some time to make the program a Big 12 contender. And having been a member of the program under Leach, when the Red Raiders were most recently competing for Big 12 titles, he has already seen a blueprint of what needs to be done in Lubbock to build a winning program. While he doesn't have a lot of coaching experience, he spent the last five years learning under one of the brightest young coaches in the country in Sumlin. Kingsbury has also spent his entire coaching career in the state of Texas; combine his knowledge of the area with his current Q score, and he could prove to be a force on the recruiting trail.
Toughest Challenge: While Kingsbury is familiar with Texas and the Big 12, Texas Tech is still one of many schools that recruit the state, and it will take some time to make Lubbock a destination for the top recruits. Aside from that, Kingsbury has never run his own program. Running an entire program on your own is a tough transition to make, especially when you must compete against programs like Oklahoma and Texas within your own conference. The good news for Kingsbury is that he should get plenty of time to try to make it work.
2013 Outlook: Kingsbury is taking over a team that finished the 2012 season 8-5 overall and 4-5 in the Big 12, so there's already work to be done. Complicating matters is that the Red Raiders return only five starters on offense. And those five don't include last year's quarterback, Seth Doege, who has graduated.
Considering how important the quarterback is to Kingsbury's offense, the battle between sophomore Michael Brewer and freshman Davis Webb is a key one heading into the season. And whoever wins the starting job won't have it easy, as Texas Tech's schedule is not easy. The season starts on the road against SMU. In conference play, the Red Raiders will face road games against West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas. So odds are that 2013 will be more of a transitional season than a giant first step for both Kingsbury and the Red Raiders.