Assistant coaching turnover could be a blessing for Texas Tech


With Tuesday’s news that Texas Tech special teams and outside receivers coach Darren Chiaverini is leaving the program to join the coaching staff at his alma mater Colorado, Kliff Kingsbury now has five assistant coaching jobs to fill this offseason.

And while this unusual situation might appear to those outside of the Texas Tech circle as a sign that the football program is in trouble, the reality is that this offseason presents a tremendous opportunity for the Red Raiders to improve by hiring quality assistant coaches.

This is not to say that former assistants Mike Smith, Trey Haverty, Kevin Curtis, Mike Jenks and Chiaverini are poor coaches. Rather, Texas Tech now has an opportunity to diversify its staff and bring in coaches that might be a better fit.

For instance, defensive coordinator David Gibbs now has the freedom to fill out his entire defensive staff with coaches he prefers. When he was hired prior to this season, Gibbs was able to bring only one coach, Zac Spavital, with him to Texas Tech.

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The remainder of his staff was holdovers from the previous defensive coordinator’s staff. If a coordinator is hired to run the defense, he should have complete autonomy to have the staff he desires.

Gibbs needs assistants with whom he is familiar and who know his scheme. Now, he has the opportunity to put into place the people he believes can fix the Texas Tech defense.

But in order for Texas Tech to improve its coaching staff, the school is going to have to be willing to pay more money for top assistant coaches. When Kingsbury put together his initial staff, almost all of the assistant coaches were young and relatively inexperienced meaning that they came cheap.

Now, that Texas Tech is in the market for new and better assistant coaches, the school is going to have to make a larger financial commitment to the coaching staff. Last season, Texas Tech was 45th in the nation in what it paid its assistant coaches ranking behind schools such as Rutgers, Central Florida, Maryland, Kentucky and Kansas State.

If David Gibbs and Kliff Kingsbury want to improve the defensive coaching staff with quality veteran coaches, they are going to have to be given the leeway to offer higher salaries to the coaches they desire. Money is going to be key in luring a strong defensive staff to Texas Tech due to the fact that coaching defense in the Big 12, and especially at Texas Tech, is not exactly a desirable task.

With the youth of next year’s roster and the fact that Texas Tech has put together the two worst defensive seasons in school history over the past two years, many coaches would be leery of taking such a difficult job. Therefore, Texas Tech will have to pay a much more competitive salary if it wishes to have better coaches.

If athletic director Kirby Hocutt can find the money to pay quality coaches to come to Texas Tech, the mass exodus of assistant coaches from the program can be a positive change.

Unlike what we are likely to read in the national and statewide media, the coaching turnover at Texas Tech is not a sign of a program that is in trouble. Coaches are not leaving because of turmoil within the program or because there is impending doom on the horizon.

Rather, Texas Tech made the decision to fire Smith, Curtis and Haverty because they simply did not get the job done on the defensive side of the ball. Now Gibbs has full control of his defense and can start to build a system with his coaches in place.

On the offensive side of the ball, the departure of running backs coach and associate head coach Mike Jenks is understandable. Any time an assistant coach is offered a head coaching opportunity, especially at a top-level mid-major program such as Bowling Green, he has to jump at the opportunity.

And as for Chiaverini, no one can blame him for taking a job at his alma mater. That is what the majority of Kingsbury’s initial staff did and it is special to be a part of the school at which one played.

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Many fans are overly concerned about the unusually large number of departures from the Texas Tech coaching staff but as long as Kingsbury and Gibbs remain in place, the program will be fine. It is obvious that something needed to change, especially on the defensive side of the ball and Texas Tech now has an opportunity to upgrade the quality of its coaching staff.

If Texas Tech is willing to spend the money necessary to hire quality assistant coaches, what seems like a crisis right now will actually turn out to be a blessing in the long run.