Home Run Hire: Kingsbury Reunites Fan Base

Justin Laney writes about how after a few tumultuous seasons, the hiring of Kliff Kingsbury has reunited the fan base.

Kliff Kingsbury has come a long way since hanging out on Britney Spears' tour bus in 2002. He has become one of college football's hottest coaching commodities in just four years. King Kliff has led Case Keenum to a top 7 Heisman finish and now has a Heisman winner to boot, in superstar Johnny Manziel.

And now Red Raiders, this is the new head coach. He's a proven winner everywhere he has been, and now he's come home to Lubbock, TX as the man in charge.

After the Tuberville debacle, Kirby Hocutt stated earlier in the week that he wanted someone who understands the culture of West Texas and someone who wants to be here at Texas Tech and in Lubbock. It looks like Hocutt found the perfect fit for this job.

"I loved it out here. I loved the people of West Texas. I've lived in a bunch of different cities, countries and some of the finest people I've ever met in my life have been from around here. Some of the best relationships that I still have today, you know, were formed out here so I'm thrilled to be back," Kingsbury said.

The level of excitement in Raiderland is unmatched after the 33-year-old Kingsbury has seemingly reunited a fan base that has been shaken and divided since 2009 overnight.

Former head coach coach Tommy Tuberville's abrupt exit from Lubbock appears to have been a blessing in disguise as Tech got their guy. Kliff is one of the Red Raiders own and will bring back an exciting brand of football that Tech fans will be very familiar with.

First things first, get reacquainted with one of the Red Raiders most prolific passers.

In Kliff's decorated college career, the New Braunfels, TX native threw 95 Touchdowns and torched opposing defenses for 12,423 yards. Most Red Raider fans remember the 2002 season as the breakout season for Texas Tech and the Air Raid offense.

The 2002 season opened up with a tough task against the eventual national champions in Columbus, OH. Maurice Clarett broke into the national spotlight with 175 yards on the ground, but this is the game where the national media took notice of Kingsbury's toughness. He took hit after hit but he kept getting up and finished the day with 3 TDs and 341 yards through the air.

Texas Tech also collected a "state title" along the way as they defeated Texas A&M (48-47 OT), Baylor (62-11), and Texas (42-38) in what turned out to be one heck of a Senior Day who closed out his college career by defeating the 3rd ranked Longhorns and ruining their national title hopes.

In the win against Texas, which happened to be Senior Day, Kingsbury threw for 473 yards and 6 Touchdowns but did not earn ABC's player of the game because according to Brad Nessler, "Kingsbury throws 6 TDs all the time." That game was also the last time Kingsbury would step foot inside Jones Stadium. That is, until the 2013 home opener against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks.

When talking about how exciting it is to be back in The Jones, Kingsbury was very ecstatic.

"It is. It's been a while. Last time I was in there was a great day so hopefully there's many more to come. Like I said, just to be back a part of this is where I've wanted to be and it feels like home to me. I'm just laying it right here."

Kliff led that group to a 9-5 overall record and fell just one game short of a Big 12 South title, as once again, the Oklahoma Sooners stood in the way.

However, Kingsbury's storied Texas Tech career ended on a high note when they pounded Charlie Whitehurst and the Clemson Tigers into oblivion en route to a 55-15 win in the Tangerine Bowl.

Let's fast forward to his coaching career. In 2008 as his professional career was winding down, Kliff received a call from then Houston Offensive Coordinator Dana Holgorsen who had an intriguing offer. Holgorsen wanted to bring him on as Quality Control assistant.

Kingsbury then gained the trust of head coach Kevin Sumlin who promoted him to co-offensive coordinator whom he shared with former UH wide receiver, Jason Phillips.

Kliff soon began calling all the shots on offense and helped groom Heisman candidate and Abilene, TX native, Case Keenum.

However, the UH gig was just the beginning.

Kingsbury soon followed Sumlin to Texas A&M as offensive coordinator and infamously made it known that he would not wear maroon under any circumstances which is something he did out of pride in being a Red Raider.

But somehow I think Aggie fans everywhere can forgive him now that he played a role in delivering them a 10-2 record in their inaugural year in the SEC.

And oh yeah, King Kliff also brought them their second Heisman trophy winner in program history.

And finally, Kingsbury received an offer from Texas Tech Athletic Director, Kirby Hocutt, to be the 15th head coach in program history. It was an offer he could not refuse and Kliff has made it known that this is his dream job.

"It's just been a whirlwind, but I couldn't be happier, beyond ecstatic to be back. It feels like home," Kingsbury said after landing in Lubbock on Wednesday night. "This is where I wanted to be; it's where I've wanted to be," Kingsbury said.

Texas Tech is where Kliff belongs and Raiderland has suddenly been struck with a certain spark that an energetic Kingsbury looks to build on.

Welcome home Kliff. The future looks so bright you might need to don those famous shades on a regular basis.   

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