College football season is its final weeks, and no team in Texas is in a more awkward spot than the one out west.
Texas Tech is boxed in, and there is no clear exit strategy to a prosperous future.
The best strategy is a season-ending three-game winning streak. How many times has such a streak occurred in the final month-plus of a season under Kliff Kingsbury since he arrived in December 2012? Zero.
What is Tech going to do with Kliffy, and his contract that pays him more than $3.5 million per year through 2020?
TTU AD Kirby Hocutt has yet another decision to make about his signature sport.
As badly as the TTers all want to return to the days of The Pirate, the specter of bringing in Tommy Tuberville 2.0 should scare everyone into keeping Coach Bro around for another year.
Kingsbury’s biggest sin is that he is not The Pirate, and greatest asset is that he’s not Tuberville.
What Tech has in Kliff is another Spike. The late, eternally quotable Spike Dykes embodied his team and his town, but his record was just a tick over .500. In his 13 full seasons at Tech, Spike finished with six or fewer wins nine times.
Under Spike, the Red Raiders were pretty good and every so often they would threaten to finish near the top.
He retired after the ‘99 season and was replaced by Mike Leach.
If Tech is OK with another Spike, commit to Kliff. If Tech is not OK with another Spike, it must fire him.
In this day and age, six years qualifies as enough time to assess a coach.
What Tech has is a decent, likeable young coach who is committed to Tech, to Lubbock, to its alums and its fans, who also has a career record of 35-38 and two winning seasons. The Red Raiders are also 2-21 against teams ranked in the AP Top 25 under Kingsbury.
Despite this sub-average record, the fans passionately defend him against any perception of outside criticism. He’s family. They can rip him. You and I can’t.
No Tech fan, or administrator, could possibly look at Pullman, WA without a degree of envy watching Washington State sit in the top 10 with Leach as its head coach. Or regret. Washington State is 9-1, and ranked eighth in the latest whatever poll, which is the highest of any Pac-12 team.
As badly as Tech administrators tired of Leach by the end of his tenure in Lubbock in 2009, they all know things have not been the same since he left.
Watching Tuberville resign as the head coach at Cincinnati would equally give Red Raider fans joy.
The last thing Tech wants is another Tuberville. There is no guarantee that whomever Tech would potentially hire is another Matt Campbell. Or Leach. Or a version of TTU men’s basketball coach Chris Beard.
Tech already has a man who wants to be there, who understands his school and community. Bro’ played there, and no one wants to see this through more than he does. Like Spike, Kliff gets Lubbock. In communities like Lubbock, that has value.
After Tech improved to 5-2 with consecutive wins against TCU and Kansas, the Red Raiders have predictably returned to the .500 region; close losses to Oklahoma and Texas have put TTU back where it normally is at this time of the year.
Not bad. Not good. Right around the middle.
Hocutt hired Kingsbury, and for the second time in as many years, he will have a decision to make with his football coach.
Hocutt knows Kingsbury is not Leach, nor is he Tuberville. What he is is Spike Dykes.
TTU just needs to decide if its OK with that.