Everyone knows that college football, perhaps more than any other sport, is all about the head coach. The biggest names in the sport, Saban, Sanders, Riley, and Smart, are all coaches, not players. That's unlikely to change (even in the world of the N.I.L.) because of how much player movement there is in the sport.
The Texas Tech football program has had 17 head coaches since its inaugural season in 1925. That's an average of only 5.8 years for each coach's tenure.
What's fascinating, though, is that some of the more successful coaches in program history have had even shorter tenures than that. David McWilliams, for instance, jumped ship in 1986 to return to his alma mater, Texas, after just one season in Lubbock despite going 7-4 and getting to a bowl game in an era when that was tough to do.
Then there was Steve Sloan, who has the third-highest winning percentage of any Red Raider head coach at .651. Despite that, he was in Lubbock only three seasons (1975-77) before bolting for Ole Miss.
Similarly, his predecessor, Jim Carlen, was only in charge in Lubbock from 1970-74. When he left to take over at South Carolina, he had a winning percentage of .644.
However, today, our focus isn't on those who've succeeded at Tech but rather, on those who couldn't find a way to make it work for one reason or another. Here's our look at the five worst head coaches in Texas Tech football history.
No. 5: Kliff Kingsbury united Texas Tech fans but wasted a generational talent
It isn't fun for someone who was a student at Texas Tech in the early 2000s to include Kliff Kingsbury on any list of the worst...well...anything but that's where he belongs as a head coach. That's because he struggled mightily while in charge at Tech despite having a once-in-a-lifetime talent playing QB for him for parts of three seasons.
Kingsbury went just 35-40 overall in six seasons as head coach. That included a mark of just 19-35 in Big 12 games. His .466 winning percentage is the third-worst of any person to coach the Red Raiders for more than a year.
What drives most nuts about the Kingsbury era is that he had some guy named Patrick Mahomes II as his QB for two full seasons and part of a third. Yet, in those games, he managed to go just 13-15 in games Mahomes started and didn't leave due to an injury.
The problem was that Kingsbury couldn't fix the defense. In fact, he essentially didn't try all that hard to do so as he preferred to be only focused on his offense. What's more, he also admitted that he didn't put as much effort into recruiting as he should have. That's one reason the Red Raiders had the worst statistical defense in the nation for one season during the Mahomes era.
Now, in fairness, Kingsbury was working with a limited budget for assistant coaches and as a result, he had to go cheap on his staff as those were the days before Tech decided to pony up the cash to be competitive in the assistant market.
What's more, being hired as a first-time head coach at the age of 34 is a huge leap for anyone to make. In that regard, Tech didn't do Kingsbury any favors by not helping put mentors in place to guide the young coach through what is a tough job.
Still, the buck stops at Kingsbury and the reality is he wasn't a good head coach. What he did best was to bring the fan base together after the tumultuous Tommy Tuberville era and that shouldn't be overlooked. However, the results on the field didn't work out and he wasted the opportunity of a lifetime by failing to build a complete program that was capable of capitalizing on Mahomes' career. That's why he belongs on this list, even if those of us who grew up with him as our QB hate to admit it.