Texas Tech Football retaining Kliff Kingsbury is multidimensional

LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 11: Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Texas Tech Red Raiders receives the Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Shoot Out trophy from Texas Farm Bureau Insurance President Russell Boening after the game between the Baylor Bears and the Texas Tech Red Raiders on November 11, 2017 at AT
LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 11: Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Texas Tech Red Raiders receives the Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Shoot Out trophy from Texas Farm Bureau Insurance President Russell Boening after the game between the Baylor Bears and the Texas Tech Red Raiders on November 11, 2017 at AT /

Texas Tech Football might be experiencing growing pains, but parting ways with Kliff Kingsbury isn’t the answer.

Texas Tech Football is facing a top-to-bottom growth period, which begins with the intimidating regimen of the strength and conditioning staff–the foundation of Tech’s new culture shift of producing men who not only possess incredible strength, but an unwavering work ethic, and purpose-driven mentality. If players fall through the cracks or transfer, it’s because they didn’t buy in to the culture, and given the state of so many programs who are going to be in the market for new staffs this offseason, Texas Tech is ahead of the chains in the most critical areas.

While we can argue that Tech’s secondary hasn’t been the defenses strongest area, and special teams issues have plagued the Red Raiders all season long (minus Keke Coutee’s 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Baylor), if coaching changes were to be made this offseason, I’m sure fans would rather take Kingsbury’s buyout money and invest there, rather than start over in an unfavorable market.

And you can be assured that things aren’t always greener on the other side. Look no further than the Texas Longhorns as a prime example. Texas Athletics Director Mike Perrin fired Charlie Strong after just three seasons, where he posted a record of 16-21. Perrin cited the move which occurred just after the TCU loss as, “…the results over three seasons were not there. It was not clear the future was going to be at the levels expected of Longhorn football.”

Since the move, Coach Strong was hired at USF, where the Bulls are 8-1 and second in the American Athletic Conference. Texas brought in Tom Herman from Houston, who has the Longhorns at 5-5 overall this season, which hasn’t cooled down the fan base who were expecting a “win now” coach. If Perrin fired Coach Strong because the future vision wasn’t clear, you can guarantee the landscape has only become murkier throughout the 2017 season, as Texas has yet to establish consistency in any phase of the game, much less a cohesive identity.

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In two weeks when Texas Tech Football heads to Austin to face the Longhorns, Tech will likely be an underdog, with Texas favored by at least a touchdown. Given the circumstances, this is Tech’s to win.

It’s obvious now that when Hocutt extended Kingsbury’s contract years ago, the coaching history simply didn’t merit the financial backing, but as is the case with most coordinators-turned-coaches who go on a heater, locking that coach into a contract they can’t turn down is expected. It was a decision most fans supported at the time, but looking at a bigger picture, Hocutt now has limited options, as Tech is one of the most cash-strapped members of a Power 5 conference.

The realistic way to approach this situation is to accept that Tech’s limited financial abilities have significantly limited what assistant coaches Tech can even afford, and yet, Tech’s managed to stay somewhat competitive in comparison to programs with assistant budgets that are double what Tech’s is. The pragmatic approach to this is to realize that recruits see this as a reality, and in the cutthroat world of recruiting, fans better believe that opposing programs use that reality to their advantage. Is it fair? No, but the NCAA isn’t going to elect a president who runs off socialist principles that creates a more “fair and balanced” athletic ecosystem.

While recruiting at this level is limited for obvious reasons, Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo runs into the same issues Texas Tech faces, with players who are undersized, and undervalued. What he won’t accept are using those excuses to justify getting beat on plays, or in games themselves. His preventative approach to adversity is to make sure his players understand how opponents will try and exploit them, and condition them mentally to respond properly.

As is the case with most strength and conditioning regimes, coaches engrain the principle, “Your brain controls your body.” We’ve seen Texas Tech players respond–specifically the defense–to that principle this season through interceptions, goal line stands, quarterback hurries, etc. And on the offensive side of the ball, Texas Tech continues to be one of the top units in the nation, despite a young offensive line and freshmen whose talents are as raw and organic as they come.

It’s easy for fans to want to move on, but Texas Tech isn’t in the financial position to do so, nor is Kirby Hocutt going to part ways when there are massive visible improvements, which include major impacts by first-year JuCo transfers. A lot of the attrition Texas Tech has faced in recent years is attributed to players who didn’t buy into the system. With a former Special Forces Green Beret in charge of providing the cornerstone in developing Texas Tech Football players now, rest assured that the “system,” or “culture” is–for the first time in a very long time–finally back on track, and Hocutt isn’t going to disrupt that going into year three, or round up $20mm +/- in buyout money when Tech is one phase away from being 7-3, or better. Remember that in 2016, Texas Tech lost five games by 10 points or less with a Top 10 NFL Draft pick. In 2017, Texas Tech is five field goals away from improving to 7-3, while injecting a run game few expected to see this season.

Accepting reality isn’t accepting complacency, and nobody knows that more than Kliff Kingsbury, whose money owed through 2020 is as follows: 2018: $2.775mm; 2019: $1.95mm; 2020: $2.05mm.

Hocutt has taken criticism for throwing support behind Kingsbury because he sees the foundation continuing to build, and after last season ended, he said that the amount of points Tech was giving up was going to be a focal point headed into 2017. By taking that approach, the defense has responded in ways few expected, and Kingsbury is undergoing the coaching metamorphosis every head coach experiences.

Next: Texas Tech Football releases 2018 season schedule

With Jett Duffey and Carter McLane on deck for 2018, plus several critical players expected to return, the foundation is setting nicely for continued growth for Texas Tech Football, with a high ceiling for success. And regardless of how the final two games play out, if Hocutt extends his support through 2018, it’s because he’s trusting the process, and believes the product can only improve, but it’s up to coaches and players to execute, be consistent, and earn that support.