Back in late November, one of the biggest cogs in the coaching carousel was put on the board when the Texas Tech Red Raiders fired Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury. Hardly a successful coach in the win column going 35-40, Kingsbury was regarded as a bit of an offensive savant in his knowldedge of the Air Raid system he was taught both as a coach but also having played quarterback in the system for Mike Leach, formerly the Tech head coach now having wrapped up his seventh season coaching the Washington State Cougars.
Given Kingsbury’s offensive knowledge, the sweeping emphasis on passing games at both levels of football and the relative lack of success from current USC Head Coach Clay Helton, there was a sense that Kingsbury was being hired as an offensive coordinator with a chance of taking over for Helton were things to continue to stagnate at USC.
That meant Kingsbury just had to be willing to wait a year for a chance to become a head coach. And well, it seems he wasn’t.
NFL teams came calling, and USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann denied them permission to interview Kingsbury leading to the suggestion that he might have to resign in order to hear NFL offers. And well, it seems he has.
Per FOX Sports’ Peter Schrager, Kingsbury is going to become the next head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
Pretty wild saga, all things considered.
He’ll arrive in Phoenix with a talented, young quarterback in Josh Rosen who just finished his rookie season along with some strong defensive pieces. But the roster is going to need more talent on offense. A lot more talent. And an injection of creativity.
That’s obviously where Kingsbury comes in.
[The Cardinals] are open to hiring a head coach who a) has no defensive background himself, and b) had a lot of really bad defenses in the Big 12.
This is the thing, though: NFL teams get to draft players. At Tech, Kingsbury had to recruit players to a Big 12 program in a town one of his predecessors has compared to Siberia and Iraq. The Red Raiders didn’t land much top talent, and Kingsbury’s strategic smarts were only able to make up for that on the side of the ball he’s been on his whole life.
With the Cardinals, he’ll have a much higher baseline of defensive talent. He’ll need a good coordinator, sure, but it makes a lot of sense that Arizona went offense-first with this hire. Kingsbury already lives where the rest of the NFL is clearly heading.
With Sean McVay coaching the Los Angeles Rams, Kyle Shanahan overseeing the San Francisco 49ers and now Kingsbury in Arizona, the NFC West is laden with young, offensively-minded head coaches. It sets up a pretty interesting juxtaposition with Pete Carroll still calling the shots with the Seattle Seahawks to say nothing of the USC storylines now.
See you in 2019, Kliff.