To be completely upfront here, I'm still a Kliff Kingsbury guy.
In my opinion, Kingsbury has made incremental strides as a leader and as a head coach, here at Texas Tech, but his improvements haven't translated to wins. "Most Improved" doesn't matter at all for Texas Tech, who saw major success this spring in men's basketball and baseball, the two biggest draws for Texas Tech outside of Football.
Can the Texas Tech Athletic Department ride the wave that I believe is trending upward, or do will they be forced to make the tough decision in 2018 and take a competent roster and improved culture into 2019 with a brand new man in charge?
Why does Kliff Kingsbury deserve six years to "figure it out" when most programs in Texas, or in the Power 5 for that matter, wouldn't stomach sub-par football for more than three?
Simply stated, it's because Kirby Hocutt A) has a pretty good resume of hiring coaches so there has been little pressure, and B) Hocutt knows he hired Kingsbury before he was ready and wants to give him a fair shot at success.
Can you imagine if Kingsbury had stayed an offensive coordinator five more years? He would be one of the hottest head coaching candidates on the planet. Or he would have been the offensive coordinator after Lane Kiffin at Alabama.
The Kliff Kingsbury record here at Texas Tech, the only place he has been a head coach, is pretty awful, at a few games under .500. Take out the handful of FCS teams and the non-Power 5 schools and it gets worse.
You take the Big 12 record only, and it's amazing that Kingsbury is still in Lubbock. Texas Tech's last winning record in Big 12 play was in 2009, and there have only been two seasons where the Red Raiders were above .500 in conference play since 2005.
If you look past the win-loss record of Kingsbury, though, you could argue that Texas Tech has been almost good under Kliff. In fact, since 2015, the Red Raiders have lost eight games by only one possession.
They haven't ranked outside of the Top 16 in total offense. The defense gave up 11 fewer points per game in 2017 than they did in 2016. They also improved the yards allowed per play from more than 7 to 5.78 in the same time frame, meaning the defense has improved and is finally led by a coordinator who isn't scared of Lubbock.
Because of that, Kliff Kingsbury, who's entering his 6th year at head coach, and, after showing overall improvement since 2015, he will return for his 7th season in 2019.
My belief in Kingsbury, the roster on campus and his best coaching staff in Kliff's tenure doesn't make his seat any less hot, though. The leash will continue to shorten, and if the perceived improvement doesn't turn into tangible proof, like a winning conference record, there will be a new coach in Lubbock next season.
Kliff Kingsbury understands that.
With that being said, here are 10 coaches who could lead Texas Tech in 2019.
I understand the hot seat articles that have David Beaty and Kliff Kingsbury in the same conversation for hottest seat in the Big 12, but I don't think Kliff Kingsbury will be fired in 2018.
I'm 87% sure of it.
Current Job: Texas Tech DC
Gibbs is the leader in the clubhouse right now to replace Kliff and if he was smart he would hire a young offensive coordinator who hasn't ever had an offense outside of the top 16, oh wait that's Kliff Kingsbury.
Has anybody asked if they want to trade responsibilities?
Current Job: North Texas HC
The candidate from outside of the program that makes the most sense for me is Seth Littrell.
Littrell gained experience at Indiana and North Carolina, as well as a four-year stretch under Mike Leach at Texas Tech as the running backs coach from 2005 to 2008, before getting his shot at North Texas.
He took over a 1-11 program and went 5-7 and 9-5 in his first two seasons and is poised for a huge year in 2019.
I made the note in last years write up on the same subject that Littrell might also bring his coaching staff with him to Lubbock, which includes offensive coordinator Graham Harrell and Joel Filani as the outside receivers coach.
Littrell played at Oklahoma. He was a GA at Kansas. He's been coaching since 2002. He will make the jump to the Power 5 sooner rather than later and it will probably be before his contract with North Texas ends in 2021.
Current Job: SMU HC
I don't think Sonny Dykes would be more successful at Texas Tech than Tommy Tubberville or Kliff Kingsbury, but he makes a ton of sense for a candidate.
Dykes is obviously a name that is synonymous with not only Texas Tech football but with Lubbock. Sonny is the son of the legendary Spike Dykes and the brother of local business tycoon Rick Dykes.
Sonny Dykes played Baseball at Texas Tech until 1993 and then returned to the University from 2000 to 2006 under Mike Leach. Dykes then spent time as the OC at Arizona and the HC at Lousiana Tech and Cal, before landing at SMU this season as the head man.
Considering his name and level of experience I wouldn't be surprised if Dykes' name bounced around if a coaching search started, but I would be surprised if he was hired.
His run at Cal was mediocre at best.
Current Job: Houston OC
Yes, that Kendal Briles.
Baylor is rife with scandal and Briles was smack dab in the middle of it when his dad was fired back in May of 2016. Kendal finished that 2016 season with Baylor and then spent a year abroad in Florida with FAU and Lane Kiffin where their offense did amazing things with him as the OC.
Kendal has since returned home to Texas where he's taking over the offense for the Houston Cougars in 2018, not without some push back.
This would be a controversial hire for Texas Tech but I wouldn't call it out of the question and the Briles family has seen it's share of success in the Big 12 prior to 2016.
Kendal played college football at UT and Houston before starting his coaching career in 2008 when he joined Art at Baylor.
Kendal is young but by the time 2019 roles around the younger Briles will be more experienced than Kliff Kingsbury was when he was hired at Texas Tech in 2013.
Maybe Art Briles even reprises his role as the Running Backs coach like it's 2000 again.
Current Job: Temple HC
There are a ton of returning coaches from the Leach Era that could return. Leach hires really good assistants. Littrell and Dykes are both examples.
It's more rare though that a retread from the Tommy Tuberville Era would be well received in a return to Lubbock. Neal Brown is worth consideration though.
His Texas Tech offenses were maligned as boring but with three straight top 15 finishes and an offense that put up 38 points per game in 2012 would have had a much better reception if Tuberville weren't the face of the program. Brown's biggest achievement was dropping 41 on 3 Oklahoma in Norman producing an upset win.
Since Brown has left Texas Tech he spent two seasons as the OC in Kentucky and has a 25-13 record as a HC with Troy including two double digit win seasons.
His Resume at Troy also includes wins over a ranked LSU team, a 6 point loss to number 2 Clemson and 20 point Bowl victory over North Texas.
Current Job: Toledo HC
Jason Candle is the HC in Toledo and has a 21-7 record and was the Mac Coach of the Year in 2017, but that's not why I have him on the list. I have him on the list because he's Matt Campbell's protege and maybe he learned a thing or two from the man who turned the Cyclones around.
Current Job: Memphis
Norvell is in his first stint as an HC heading into his 3rd year at Memphis. He's 18-8 and was 10-3 last season with his only conference loss coming to eventual fake national champion and undefeated UCF.
The 12-4 conference mark in two years is a beautiful sight and I think Norvell is ready for a jump to the Power 5. Does he fit the Big 12? I don't know, but he deserves a look after starting hot at Memphis.
Current Job: Appalachian State HC
Scott Satterfield is 41-22 at Appalachian State. He's 3-0 in Bowl Games.
Satterfield has no connection to Texas Tech, but he will be a successful Power 5 coach one day. Mark it down.
Schiano was signing on the dotted line in Tennessee before the fan base erupted with disapproval. He then turned down the Patriots to return to the Ohio State for the third season in the program.
His collegiate record as an HC, all at Rutgers, was 68-67 and he was 5-1 in Bowl Games. Schiano took over a program in disarray he brought the team to prominence and his final 6 seasons were 55-26. The Rutgers program had been to one Bowl game before Schiano. They've been to three since. There are six bowl wins in the history of Rutgers and he has five of them.
Does that resume outweigh the controversy that he was ousted from Tennessee over?
Schiano's controversy stems from his time at Penn State and the child rape that went on for years. According to the New York Times, in a 2015 deposition, former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary testified that another Penn State assistant coach, Tom Bradley, had told him that Schiano had talked to him about seeing Sandusky abusing a boy sometime in the early 1990s.
Bradley denied the account and dismissed it.
So, does an unsubstantiated second-hand account of complicit knowledge of a terrible crime that allowed future crimes take place, prevent Schiano from ever being an HC again? It definitely prevented him from the Tennessee job. He will try again soon, especially if he continues to crank out elite NFL talent.