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Is Kliff Kingsbury’s Seat Cooling In Lubbock?

With the Red Raiders at 4-3, has Kliff Kingsbury done enough this year to get off the hot seat?



Getty Images - John Weast

Kingsbury came into this season with his seat rated at about a 4-alarm fire. After going 8-5 his first year in Lubbock as the head man, things were looking up for the program. However, they have not found that success since. Prior to this season, Kingsbury had an overall record of 24-26. In other words, a losing record.

Things look even worse when you compare the job Kingsbury has done to what the Red Raider’s two previous head coaches accomplished. Coach Mike Leach was the winningest coach in school history, and took the program to its best season ever. So, maybe that is not a fair comparison, but it shows what the program is capable of. Especially, as Kingsbury grew up in that system playing under coach Leach.

But what if I told you Tommy Tuberville, a coach many Red Raider supporters are not a fan of, out-performed what coach Kingsbury had done leading up to this season? Tuberville had a winning record in Lubbock and, at 3.47 compared to Kingbury’s 2.80, Tuberville also played a stronger strength of schedule on average.

Seemingly, the only thing that has been keeping Kingsbury’s seat from hitting ejector status was the rather large buy-out left on his massive contract. A contract the Red Raiders are getting a terrible return on. Heading into this season his buyout was $9.4 million, but that buyout looks much more manageable at the end of this season. That has many people wondering if this is Kingsbuy’s final year in Lubbock.

The general feeling around Lubbock is that the team has not been living up to the talent in the locker room.

However, is Kingsbury’s seat cooling?

All Kingsbury and his squad have done so far this season is take a fire extinguisher to all the hot-seat talk. Leaving it still warm, but not flaming. Currently, Texas Tech sits at 4-3. And, while the offensive side of the ball as always played above its talent level (three-star recruits consistently putting together an offense that ranks in the Top 25 year-after-year that plays in a Power 5 conference) it was the defense that held this team back.

But, after finally hiring a defensive coordinator that stayed longer than one season, Kingsbury is seeing his defense blossom under David Gibbs. Gibbs has been roaming the sideline on the plains for three seasons now and it shows. After being one of the worst defenses in every statistical category the Red Raiders have leaped into mediocrity. No, they are not Alabama, but they are no longer a doormat either. The only knock is that this defense makes yo-yo’s dizzy. The first half they play like a top 10 defense, in the second like a high school junior varsity squad.

Taking a gander at the record and the Arizona State win looks better by the week. And the win over Houston is still a quality win. Those were games that most people thought the Red Raiders would lose. Speaking of losses, the three have come against Oklahoma State, a game that they nearly won, West Virginia, and Iowa State. Granted, the West Virginia loss was another tough loss. Especially, after a second-half collapse gave up 22 unanswered points, but it’s hard to win on the road in Morgantown.

The only truly bad loss of the three came this last weekend where they were routed by Iowa State at home. That’s bad. It’s especially bad when you consider the Red Raiders were run out of Ames last year. However, we should remember that Iowa State beat Oklahoma and is a team out-performing expectations, themselves. After all, as of this week, the Cyclones are in second place in the Big 12.

Has Kingsbury done enough to save his job for another year? That could very well rest on what happens over the next five weeks.

Most likely, Kingsbury would need at least two more wins at the minimum, which would make Texas Tech bowl eligible. Their remaining schedule isn’t easy, either. This week they have to recover from the ugly Iowa State loss by traveling to Oklahoma. Beating the Sooners in Norman seems unlikely, but they have done it before. Up after OU is Kansas State and Baylor, both at home, and they are the most winnable games the Red Raiders have left. Baylor is winless, and K-State has fallen well south of expectations on the year. After that, they get TCU at home before playing the Longhorns in Austin. TCU is the fourth best team in the country right now, and Texas is much better than their record would indicate.

There is little room for error in that schedule. Drop one to Baylor or K-State, and they will have to pull off an upset somewhere to get to bowl eligibility.

If they can get to bowl eligibility though, It would mean the team that lost one of the best players in college football last year has actually gotten better as a team. That is saying a lot. And it says a lot about the quality of head coach Kingsbury is and the staff he has assembled in Lubbock.

It also means that Kliff Kingsbury should be the head coach in Lubbock for at least one more season.

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