Cardinals hire Kliff Kingsbury as their next head coach on a four-year contract

The next coaching domino has fallen, and it's a big one that'll have repercussions across both the NFL and college football. As first reported by NFL Network's Peter Schrager, the Cardinals are hiring Kliff Kingsbury as their next head coach. Not long after, the Cardinals announced they gave Kingsbury a four-year contract.

It's officially official:

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the contract contains a team option for a fifth season.

Kingsbury, who got fired in November after six seasons as Texas Tech's head coach, joined USC as its offensive coordinator in December. As many expected, NFL teams sought out Kingsbury as soon as the dust from Black Monday settled. USC initially blocked Kingsbury from interviewing with NFL teams, but eventually allowed Kingsbury to speak with the Jets and Cardinals. It didn't take the Cardinals, who fired first-year coach Steve Wilks immediately after their 3-13 season, long to zero in on their man. Their objective this offseason was simple: find No. 10 overall pick Josh Rosen a coach who can develop him.

That appears to be Kingsbury, who has a history of working with NFL quarterbacks before they made the leap from college to the pros. At the college level, Kingsbury had a hand in developing Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield, Case Keenum, Johnny Manziel, and Davis Webb. In November, Mahomes said that Kingsbury "has the work ethic and he has the mind and he has the innovativeness, I guess you would say -- if that's a word -- to be in this league."

But it's worth noting that Kingsbury had difficulty winning games at Texas Tech, where he posted a 35-40 record. His teams did at least score a ton of points (at least 35 points per game in four of his six seasons), but his losing record as a college coach should be a real concern. Put it this way: He couldn't win consistently with Patrick freakin' Mahomes, who is already the frontrunner for NFL MVP in his first season as a starter. 

His primary task in Arizona will be to develop Rosen. Rosen's first season with the Cardinals couldn't have gone much worse. In 14 games (13 starts), he completed 55.2 percent of his passes for 2,278 yards, 11 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and a 66.7 passer rating. He finished the regular season ranked dead last in DYAR, DVOA, and QBR. By most measures, he was the worst starting quarterback in football.

But that was under a defensive coach in Wilks, an offensive coordinator who got fired midway through the season in Mike McCoy, and a first-time interim offensive coordinator in Byron Leftwich. It's difficult to blame Rosen for all of his issues when he was seldom placed in a situation to succeed. Even David Johnson struggled in the Cardinals' offense. 

If there's one thing Kingsbury knows, it's quarterbacks. And his priority in Arizona will be to get the most out of Rosen. Both of their futures are now tied together. There's more to being an NFL coach than developing quarterbacks, but Kingsbury can't succeed in Arizona unless he develops Rosen into the quarterback he was supposed to be coming out of UCLA.

The NFC West, by the way, suddenly features the following four coaches (ages in parentheses): Kingsbury (39), Sean McVay (32), Kyle Shahahan (39), and Pete Carroll (67).

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

Our Latest Stories