Kliff Kingsbury Talks Texas Tech Football At Big 12 Media Days

AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 24: Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Texas Tech Red Raiders surveys the field as the team arrives before the game against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on November 24, 2017 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 24: Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Texas Tech Red Raiders surveys the field as the team arrives before the game against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on November 24, 2017 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Monday, Texas Tech football head coach Kliff Kingsbury spoke to reporters at Big 12 media days in Frisco, Texas where he adressed the Red Raider quarterback position and his improved defense among other topics.

Kliff Kingsbury has never been known for delivering any information of value when speaking to the media.  In fact, his proclivity for vagaries and generic coach speak has irritated a section of the Texas Tech fan base that enjoyed the colorful media rantings of Kingsbury’s former head coach, Mike Leach.

But, it is July and we are desperate for anything related to college football making Big 12 media days something relatively exciting as it signals the eminent return of football season.  Here are a few of the so-called highlights of Kingsbury’s Monday morning dog-and-pony show with reporters at the event.

After answering questions about receivers that he expects to step up (T.J. Vasher, De’Quan Bowman and Ja’Deion High were his answers), his recent recruiting success (he’s happy) and where college football facilities are headed (bigger and shinier), Kingsbury was asked about the state of the Texas Tech defense as compared to a season ago.

"“…Excited for Coach Gibbs and that defensive staff and those defensive players.  When Coach Gibbs took the job four years ago, he kinda had to re-do it all.  He had a vision, knew what he wanted to do but he had to go through two really tough years.  To his credit, he stuck to his guns with his philosophy, his recruiting and now we’re making some strides on that side of the football…Just having continuity on that side of the ball to develop a culture and have an identity that those defensive players are taking a lot of pride in now.” Kingsbury said."

Certainly there is quite the different vibe around the Texas Tech defense this year after the program saw a 25-spot jump in total defense rankings in 2017 and led the Big 12 with three preseason All-Big 12 defensive team members this year.  It must be a relief for Kingsbury to be able to talk positively about his defense and not have to face persistent questions about his inability to field a representative defense as he had to last year at the same event.

Next, Kingsbury was asked about the quarterback competition and of course, he did not tip his hand at all.  Rather, his answer was as generic of an answer as anyone could have imagined.

"“We have three guys, all very talented, they’re inexperienced players but all very talented…Each athletic, can extend plays, can do all the things we want them to do.  We just got to figure out who’s going to separate themselves and be the guy.  It’s the first time in a while that I’ve gone into a fall camp not really knowing who it’s going to be.”"

If there was anything interesting from that quote, it would be the final sentence which indicates that previous quarterback competitions (specifically the Pat Mahomes vs. Davis Webb duel in 2015) were not as close as many thought them to be at the time.  It also makes one wonder if Kingsbury had an idea who his starting quarterback was going to be in 2013 when Webb and Baker Mayfield started every game that season as true freshmen following an summer injury to Michael Brewer.

It is hard to image that Kingsbury had any notion that he would wind up starting the walk-on Mayfield in the season opener, especially given the fact that an illness during fall camp severely hampered Webb’s ability to compete at his highest level.

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Kingsbury would go on to answer a follow-up question about the quarterbacks by saying that he has purposely tried to keep from picking a starter in his mind to keep the competition wide open in the fall.  He also indicated that his preference is to have one quarterback play but that he would be willing to rotate QBs if that was what was best for the team.  That is a further indication that there may be no clear-cut option, especially by the time the first game arrives and that the leash for the starter could be shorter against Ole Miss given the magnitude of that game.

The remainder of the questions asked of Kingsbury were bland and uninteresting and generated answers of the same ilk.  Kingsbury said the Big 12 is on more steady footing and having OU in the playoff last year helped all Big 12 teams when recruiting against other conferences, that there are a lot of good running backs in the Big 12 (specifically Iowa State’s David Montgomery) and that he is not doing anything different to prepare his young QBs despite two tough early games against Mississippi and Oklahoma State.

Those expecting much out of Kingsbury at Big 12 media days (or really at any other media event) are almost always going to be disappointed.  When talking about his team, he is as closely-guarded as any coach can be.

To get a picture of the real Kliff Kingsbury and the personality that makes him such a popular figure away from the field, one needs to hear him on podcasts like the “Comeback Szn” podcast he recently appeared on.  When telling stories about Johnny Manziel or hanging out with Tom Brady and Mike Tyson at the Kentucky Derby, Kingsbury is one of of the most engaging and likable figures there is.

Next: Rewatching 2017: Eastern Washington

Now that Big 12 mia days in in the books, Texas Tech fans have to wait until August for any news or updates on the quarterback situation as fall camp unfolds.  Not that Kingsbury will offer up much more at that time than he did Monday.