Finally, it would be unfair not to consider Kliff Kingsbury as a potential Ring of Honor inductee. But one has to wonder if it will take time for the stench left behind by his head coaching tenure in Lubbock to fade before he’s properly remembered for being one of the greatest players in program history.
The New Braunfels native was a three-year starter at QB during the first three years of the Mike Leach era. And during that time, Kingsbury was at the very tip of the offensive revolution that would sweep across the nation by the end of the decade.
His 12,429 passing yards are second in program history as are his 95 passing touchdowns. Additionally, he helped the program reach three bowl games as he would go 23-16 as a starter. In all, Kingsbury was only the third player in college football history to throw for over 10,000 yards, gain over 10,000 yards in total offense, and complete over 1,000 passes in a career.
But unfortunately, his six years as a head coach, during which he was just 35-40, have soured many on his legacy. Sure, everyone in Lubbock still loves Kingsbury for the person that he is and for the great memories he gave us as a player, but it feels like this program needs some time to distance from his failed coaching tenure before it can fully embrace him as one of the all-time greats.
Perhaps a return to relevance and winning under Joey McGuire will accelerate that process. Once Tech football returns to the land of the living, fans may be quicker to forgive Kingsbury of his shortcomings as a head coach.
It might also require AD Kirby Hocutt to move on before Kingsbury can get the Ring of Honor call. That’s because it would be a bit awkward for the man who had to fire Kingsbury to then turn around and put him in the program’s most prestigious club.
Ultimately, Kingsbury’s NFL success may also help his case. Currently the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, he’s built an NFC contender in the desert, and should he become one of the NFL’s top coaches, that may help him earn a spot in Tech’s Ring of Honor. After all, Mahomes was inducted almost solely on what he’s done at the next level.
Kingsbury is a bit of a polarizing figure in Lubbock right now and that’s a shame. He is a great Red Raider and his playing career was one of the best we will ever see at Jones Stadium. So eventually, once enough time has passed for us to move on from his coaching disappointments, there’s a great chance that Kingsbury could find himself in the Ring of Honor as well.