Texas Tech fires head football coach Kliff Kingsbury


Texas Tech Director of Athletics Kirby Hocutt announced Sunday a change in direction for the Red Raider football program as head coach Kliff Kingsbury will not return for the 2019 season.

Hocutt informed Kingsbury of the decision Sunday morning, one day after the Red Raiders ended the season with a fifth-consecutive loss. Tech concluded the 2018 campaign with a 5-7 record following a 35-24 loss to Baylor on Saturday.

"I'd like to thank Kliff Kingsbury for his six years of dedication leading our football program," Hocutt said. "He's worked very hard and represented us in a first-class manner."

Kingsbury closes his tenure leading his alma mater with a 35-40 overall record, including a 19-35 mark in Big 12 play. He led the Red Raiders to three bowl appearances during his six seasons with trips to the 2013 Holiday Bowl, 2015 AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl and the 2017 Birmingham Bowl.

"For what he achieved and contributed to Texas Tech, as an athlete, a student and our football coach, Kliff Kingsbury has a special place in the hearts of Red Raiders," Texas Tech President Dr. Lawrence Schovanec said. "As a coach, he was a model of class and character, and he always put the best interests of his student-athletes first. I admire and appreciate all he has done for Texas Tech."

Through seven games this year, Texas Tech was 5-2, but mounting injuries on both sides of the ball contributed to a five-game slide in October and November. Kingsbury was also on the hot seat this time last year as the Red Raiders entered their final game at 5-6. However, a 27-23 win in Austin against Texas was enough to keep Kingsbury around for one more year.

Kingsbury returned to Lubbock in 2013 as a first-time head coach after being the offensive coordinator for one season at Texas A&M, where he coached Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel. That was part of a meteoric rise for Kingsbury as he also coached under Kevin Sumlin at Houston as an assistant from 2008-11.

Kingsbury's offenses were usually near the top of the Big 12 with the Red Raiders scoring at least 35 points per game in four of his six seasons. At one point, Kingsbury oversaw three quarterbacks in two years who would be drafted into the NFL: Baker Mayfield, who transferred to Oklahoma after one season, Davis Webb and Patrick Mahomes. Mayfield and Mahomes were first-round picks in the past two NFL drafts with Mayfield going No. 1 overall to the Browns and Mahomes going 10th overall to the Chiefs.

However, Kingsbury's time in Lubbock was just as notably marred for an absence of defense. The Red Raiders never finished any higher than seventh in the Big 12 in total defense and finished last in 2016. The hiring of defensive coordinator David Gibbs in 2015 brought some consistency and improvement to that side of the ball, but it wasn't enough win in spite of the offensive struggles through injuries this past year.

Despite his inability to turn a positive corner at his alma mater, Kingsbury is considered one of college football's brightest offensive minds and play-callers. As the coaching carousel starts turning, there's little doubt Kingsbury will have plenty of options for his next stop.

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