UPDATE: Kliff Kingsbury made it official on Tuesday with the announcement that Kevin Curtis and Mike Smith had been let go. In addition to the previously reported coaching losses though, Kingsbury also said that outside linebackers coach Trey Haverty also won’t be returning to Texas Tech next season.
“We appreciate all that Mike, Kevin and Trey have done at Texas Tech over the last three seasons,” Kingsbury said. “All three are great Red Raiders and we wish them the very best.”
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Late Sunday evening the news coming out of Lubbock was shocking for some and welcomed by others. Defensive coaches Kevin Curtis and Mike Smith, both of whom are former Red Raider players, will not be returning to coach at Texas Tech next fall.
Curtis who was a part of the 1998 recruiting class with Kliff Kingsbury played safety for the Red Raiders from 1999 through 2001. For the last three seasons Curtis has coached the secondary at his alma mater. This season the Red Raiders secondary struggled with stopping the pass while giving up 268 yards per game.
Smith played linebacker for the Red Raiders from 2001 to 2004 before being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens. Smith arrived with Kliff Kingsbury in 2012 as the Co-Defensive Coordinator and linebackers coach, for the 2015 season he took over as the defensive line coach. The Red Raiders poor passing defense wasn’t the worst part of the defense, the Tech rushing defense ranked 126th out of 128 teams in FBS this season.
Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche Journal reported earlier today that both coaches were informed that they wouldn’t be retained after this season in January when David Gibbs was hired.
“This wasn’t a surprise to me,” Smith told Williams. “Even way before the season started, it was known and I was told I would be fired after the season. So I chose to stay. I made a lot of promises to my guys and to my players. It wasn’t time for me to go somewhere else with (coming off) a bad season. I just love Texas Tech. Even if it’s one year, it’s worth one year.”
The news that both coaches knew they wouldn’t return, came as quite a shock, and speculation as to why both stayed running rampant. Maybe they stayed for the recruits. Maybe it was one last shot to change David Gibbs’ mind. Either way though, what’s done is done, and it’s time for Texas Tech football to look ahead.
As of Monday Texas Tech’s defensive recruits had been informed of the coaches impending departure. There is concern from those around the program that there could be several de-commitments on the defensive side of the ball. From all accounts though, both coaches have encouraged the players that they were recruiting to stick with their commitments to Texas Tech.
There’s no word yet as to who coach Kliff Kingsbury or defensive coordinator David Gibbs were pursuing to replace the recently departed staff members. The assumption is that the positions will be filled after Texas Tech plays their bowl game in a few weeks. One thing is for sure though, this is David Gibbs’ defense.