Three is years not enough for Kingsbury to succeed


Kliff Kingsbury is three games away from the end of his third season as Texas Tech head football coach. After yet another loss to a ranked team last week, Texas Tech fans have begun to grumble about the football program’s lack of progress under the former Red Raider quarterback.

On Internet message boards and even in some national media outlets, people are beginning to deem Kingsbury’s time at Texas Tech as a disappointment or failure. However, the reality is that a college football program the caliber of Texas Tech’s simply cannot achieve national prominence in a mere three years, especially under the guidance of a first time head coach.

We live in a world devoid of patience. Modern technology has made us expect instant gratification. But when building a college football program, three years is simply not long enough for most coaches to succeed.

Kliff Kingsbury is not the only FBS coach in the nation that has struggled in his first three years at a new job. Across the country, coaches in their third year at a program (whether the coach be a veteran or a first time head coach) are struggling to find their footing and turn their program around.

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"According to, “Thirty-one FBS programs changed head coaches after the 2012 season” when Texas Tech hired Kingsbury. Link"

Most of those coaches are having the same struggles that Kingsbury is having in trying to resurrect their program.

Kingsbury is 17-17 at Texas Tech with one bowl victory and one 4-8 season on his resume. What has disappointed most fans is that Kingsbury’s team is 8-16 in the Big 12 and the issues of penalties, turnovers and embarrassing defensive play are not improving. But he is far from the only coach struggling to tread water in his third season on the job.

Let’s begin with Kliff Kingsbury’s nemesis, Arkansas’ Brett Bielema who left Wisconsin for the Razorbacks in 2013. With a 14-19 overall record and 4-16 record in SEC games, Bielema’s brash and abrasive personality is beginning to wear thin on the Arkansas faithful and his job may be in jeopardy.

Another SEC coach, Butch Jones has struggled to rebuild one of college football’s most legendary programs, Tennessee. The man who left Cincinnati after the 2012 season opening the door for Kingsbury to be named Texas Tech head coach when Tommy Tuberville bolted Lubbock to be Jones’ replacement has a 16-17 overall record and 7-14 SEC record.

These numbers are far below the expectations of Tennessee fans and boosters. Entering the season as a popular pick to be a SEC title contender, the Volunteers have struggled to a 4-4 record thus far in 2015.

At California, former Texas Tech assistant coach Sonny Dykes has seen his program resemble a roller coaster. After going 1-11 in his first year and 5-7 last season, Dykes had his team positioned for a strong run in the Pac 12 this year, especially considering his quarterback Jared Goff is considered by many to be the likely No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

But after a 5-0 start, the Golden Bears are in the midst of a three-game losing streak that has seen them drop out of the top 25. Dykes overall record of 11-21 and his conference record of 5-18 are ugly and next season he faces the prospect of replacing the program’s best quarterback since Aaron Rogers.

There are numerous reasons that head coaches are not seeing results after three years at a new school. First of all, in almost every case these coaches were hired to rebuild programs that had fallen on hard times.

Also consider that most coaches are hired in December; just over a month prior to National Signing Day meaning that the first recruiting class these coaches sign has been primarily assembled by their predecessor. Therefore, a third-year coach has only two signing classes of his own in the program.

Look at the number of sophomores and freshman playing for Texas Tech this year as proof. Pat Mahomes, Ian Sadler, Dakota Allen, Jah’Shawn Johnson, Breiden Fehoko, Nigel Bethell, Tevin Madison, Tony Brown, and Justin Stockton are all underclassmen that have played prominent roles for the 2015 Red Raiders. It is not likely that a team relying on such a large group of underclassmen will be competitive against schools like Baylor and TCU that start virtually all upperclassmen.

Though it is frustrating to watch these young players struggle to compete, fans must keep the big picture in mind and remember that building a successful football program is a huge endeavor, especially for second-tier programs.

Yet, Texas Tech fans must look no further than its own conference to find examples of patience paying off.

Baylor’s Art Briles was 15-22 in his first three years in Waco before going 40-12 in his next four seasons. Mike Gundy began his tenure at Oklahoma State going 18-19 in his first three seasons. Since then he has won fewer than 8 games only once in eight seasons.

Texas Tech fans are right to feel frustrated as they watch the Red Raiders look inept against Big 12 foes. Going over two years without beating a conference team other than Kansas and Iowa State and losing 18 consecutive games to former Big 12 South rivals is certain to cause fans to question whether or not Kliff Kingsbury is the right man for the job.

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But the worst thing for Texas Tech to do would be to deviate from the Kingsbury plan. The program fell into disarray because of coaching turnover and not giving Kingsbury plenty of time to build the program his way would only set the program back another half a decade or more.

Like it or not, the best way for Texas Tech to improve is to commit to Kliff Kingsbury and give him enough time to put his thumbprint on the program. Until then, Texas Tech fans must be willing to be patient while supporting the program until Kingsbury and his staff begin to succeed.