Packers Head Coach Candidate: Kliff Kingsbury
After nearly two straight decades of hearing Kliff Kingsbury’s name around both college and professional football, it’s hard to believe the former Texas Tech head coach isn’t even 40 years old.
The 39-year-old Kingsbury has helped recruit and coached top quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Johnny Manziel, Baker Mayfield, Case Keenum and Davis Webb in just eleven years as a coach.
The details on Kliff Kingsbury
Most recent job: Head Coach at Texas Tech (2013-2018)
Record as a head coach: 35-40 in six seasons
First job: Quality Control at the University of Houston (2008)
Packers connection: Played quarterback and coached at Texas Tech, the alma mater of former Packers quarterback Graham Harrell.
The background on Kliff Kingsbury
When head coach Mike Leach arrived at Texas Tech in 2000, quarterback Kliff Kingsbury was the first signal caller to benefit from the gaudy stats that come with the territory in Leach’s air raid offense. After his senior season in 2002, he became just the third player in college football history to throw for over 10,000 yards, gain over 10,000 yards in total offense and complete over 1,000 passes.
Kingsbury was drafted in the sixth round by the Patriots in 2003, and bounced between the Saints, Broncos, Jets and Bills rosters until 2006. By 2008, the University of Houston brought Kingsbury in as a quality control coach, and he helped develop quarterback Case Keenum under head coach Kevin Sumlin’s watch. By 2011, Kingsbury had ascended to play caller for Houston’s offense and followed Sumlin when he left to become head coach at Texas A&M.
Kingsbury gained notoriety as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Texas A&M during Johnny Manziel’s Heisman Trophy 2012 season. He ascended to head coach at his alma mater Texas Tech for the 2013 season, where he spent six seasons and coached quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes.
Despite recruiting high-profile quarterbacks, Kingsbury’s Red Raiders were 35-40 when he was fired after a 5-7 record in 2018. Last week, it was reported Kingsbury had preliminarily agreed to become USC’s offensive coordinator, but a last-second foray from Rams head coach Sean McVay about an offensive consultant role has stalled the official announcement. The Trojans requested Kingsbury decide within the next few days whether to take the position.
Kliff Kingsbury’s biggest moment
There’s uncertainty when you hire a head coach who has never been a head coach at any level, let alone a coach who is barely ten years older than their players. Kingsbury silenced his critics in his first season as head coach of Texas Tech in 2013, winning his first seven games behind walk-on true freshmen Baker Mayfield and ascending as high as 10th in the polls.
Kliff Kingsbury, in his own words
They may not be his own words, but appearing as a clue on the game show Jeopardy is quite an accomplishment.
To be fair, he does look quite a bit like the worst defender on the T.C. Williams High School defense.
What are the chances Kliff Kingsbury is the next Packers head coach?
Gary’s Rating: 1/5
No other coach in college football can claim links to more current NFL starters than Kliff Kingsbury, and he’s still in the early stages of his coaching career. Kingsbury’s offenses have put up eye-popping numbers, and the thought of Aaron Rodgers playing under that system makes at least fantasy football owners giddy.
The financials may make some sense here, too. Kingsbury made $3.5 million in 2017, which would rank slightly below-average for NFL head coaches. His losing record as a head coach is a tough dent on his resume to overcome, and is even less impressive (28-40) when you remove his 7-0 start in 2013 under Baker Mayfield.
Kingsbury seems to be at his best as a play caller and a coordinator. A gig with USC would likely net Kingsbury more than an NFL offensive coordinator post, though, so seeing the Ryan Gosling doppelganger in Green Bay is unlikely.
Jon’s Rating: 2.5/5
Money is the biggest obstacle for any college coach’s jump to the pros, especially one who’s likely to end up as a coordinator. Why would any college coordinator want to take a pay cut to jump to a far less secure job if he’s already in position at an established program?
But Kingsbury presents a unique situation. Not only is he a potential head coaching candidate, he has one other ideal attribute: he’s unemployed. Without the lure of a secure, high paying job in the college ranks (at least right now) Kingsbury has to be one of the more likely candidates to make the jump from college to the pros. The Packers certainly have to be an appealing potential landing spot.