Tommy Tuberville was never going to be the answer in Lubbock. Texas A&M's offensive coordinator might be. That's good enough for now.
Last week was a whirlwind for Red Raider fans. First, Tommy Tuberville bolted Lubbock for beautiful Cincinnati to take over a program without a conference. Then they hired Butt-Spanking Kliff Kingsbury. Either move, taken alone, would have been excellent; together they were potentially program saving.
For the second time in a row, the program found itself scrambling for a new direction after an unexpected departure. Last time it was Mike Leach that left, forced out by aspiring politician and then ESPN commentator Craig James. Back then, Tech decided Tommy Tuberville was the ideal replacement for one of the most beloved coaches in college football.
Tuberville's hire felt flat from the beginning for a lot of reasons. First, he was not a pirate. He was a defensive coach coming to the southern home of the spread. He'd spent a season off the sidelines after Auburn showed him the door. He seemed to be an odd fit in Lubbock, and as an older coach jumping to a lower conference, it appeared to be a man looking for a safe place to fade away. As it turned out, he was a dry hire that would be gone three unremarkable seasons later during a recruiting dinner. This time, the fit feels a lot better, for a lot of reasons.
The first two things bound to come up when people talk about the Kingsbury hire are his age and his time as quarterback at Tech -- and that's a good thing. At all of 33 years old, Kingsbury is all energy and excitement. And if you look around football, at every level, young passionate coaches are the successful ones. They can reach and motivate their players. They know what buttons to push. Furthermore, his history gives him instant credibility with his players for having been there.
But Kingsbury is not a "potentially" good coach -- he was the brains behind the offense that took the SEC by storm this year, as well as the explosive Houston Cougars' before that. His offensive style is an exciting one, even more so than the statuesque quarterback centered Air Raid offense that put Tech back on the map under Mike Leach. That having been said, you have to wonder if he has the guy he needs to run the offense on the roster right now.
Along those lines, the only real unknown about Kingsbury (other than the ability to run a program generally) is his ability to recruit. It's hard to imagine he wouldn't be better in touch with the 18 year old football mind than Tommy Tuberville, but you have to wonder how much experience he has doing it. He might not have the kind of players he wants for his system on the roster, and he needs to have a quick learning curve.
Kingsbury seems like a bright guy, and he's clearly a fine offensive mind. And while his age makes you wonder if he's ready to take over a program, he seems to have a personality players will gravitate to -- both in the locker room and on the recruiting trail. All in all, mark that one more exciting coach in the Big 12, and one more challenge for Texas to overcome in its attempt to regain its place atop the conference.