Football

Kirby Hocutt Discusses Kliff Kingsbury’s Return

The athletic director discussed Kliff Kingsbury return, but with a greater responsibility for the defense.

Kirby Hocutt spent 50 minutes speaking to the media yesterday and confirmed that head coach Kliff Kingsbury would return to coach the 2017 season:

“I believed in Kliff Kingsbury when we hired him in December 2012, and I believe in Kliff Kingsbury today. I look forward to future success under his leadership as we move forward. I’m confident there are much better days ahead for Texas Tech football. Again, disappointed with where we are today, but optimistic about our future.”

Let’s tackle a few things.

  • Hocutt said that he trusts Kingsbury to make decisions regarding play-calling and that Kingsbury is the best play-caller in the nation. I’d agree with that, there are few that are better than Kingsbury.
  • This means that Kingsbury will let go of duties that related to the time management aspect of preparing a game-plan during the week and Kingsbury will be more involved with the defense and special teams. I think previously, those coaches, David Gibbs and Joe Robinson, where pretty much left to themselves, as were maybe the players. Maybe the thought here is that Kingsbury is going to be more invested in those sides of the ball and know what they’re doing. He’s been so busy installing the offense for the week, he doesn’t have time to pay attention to the other aspects. That appears to be what Kingsbury is giving up.
  • Hocutt said that he hopes that David Gibbs does return, nothing appears to be finalized just yet. this somewhat matches up with what I thought would happen, which is that if Kingsbury returned, then so would Gibbs and these guys are intertwined together. Gibbs has to make the decision to sign with Texas Tech, but at least Hocutt is leaving the door open to allowing Gibbs to return.
  • Hocutt mentioned that there was 650 pounds in lean muscle added during the offseason and mentioned this aspect a handful of times.
  • Hocutt also mentioned the 12 mid-term enrollees, stating that this would put the roster at 72 during spring practices. If that’s the case, that’s about a full of a team that you could get during the spring, remember, it’s usually around 60 or so with a graduating class of 20 seniors, that seems average. With the additional bodies, especially on the offensive line, this will help immensely.
  • Hocutt talked about how the change from going after mainly JUCO players to high school players as a big recruiting change two years ago. Hocutt wasn’t providing excuses, but reasons for the shift. I tend to not look at Hocutt as a guy that gives excuses, he said a number of times that the defense was unacceptable, so I’m good with that.
  • With the rumor of Phil Longo joining the staff, lots of folks immediately thought that this might mean that Eric Morris might be replaced, but Morris and Kingsbury were out on the recruiting trail yesterday, visiting with Jack Anderson, Dawson Deaton and Casey Verhulst. I have never gotten the vibe that Morris was the problem on the offense, as if there is a problem per se (#1 offense in the nation being a problem).
  • There were apparently some people upset that Hocutt didn’t make a move and let Kingsbury go and I get your frustration, I really do. There’s also the thought that Hocutt punted on the decision because he’s leaving and I don’t get that thought at all. I think that Hocutt really likes it here in Lubbock and Texas Tech and I don’t know if Hocutt will leave or not, but I don’t believe he’s punting because he might go somewhere else next year but because he really believes that letting Kingsbury make one last go at it the right decision. Hocutt’s a pretty patient guy and I do think Hocutt feels that Kingsbury is the right move for 2017.

LAJ’s Nicholas Talbot wrote that keeping Kingsbury was the right move and that the Baylor game didn’t necessarily save his job (but I’m sure it helped):

“In this position there are going to be emotional highs and lows but decisions of this magnitude are made with a wholistic view point,” Hocutt said. “It is not made with the result of one particular game … I still believe the foundation is three for our success. But, that said none of us are happy with standing here with a 5-7 season. … We don’t plan to be in this position again.”

In order to do that, change must happen — not by firing Kingsbury, but by holding Kliff accountable for the defense and Hocutt not only admitted that Sunday, he repeated it time and time again.

“There has to be changes in day-to-day operations to have (Kingsbury) more responsible for the defensive side of the ball but what those changes are, are ultimately his responsibility,” Hocutt said, adding later, “Defense? We are not very good. We are not going to achieve at the level we expect to achieve and the results we expects we have with the defensive performance we have put on the field. … You can’t allow your opponents to score 40 plus points and expect to win at a consistent level in college football.”

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