The Big Mac Blog

Texas Tech is the ideal landing spot for Briles

Texas Tech is 22-22 in four seasons under head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Texas Tech is 22-22 in four seasons under head coach Kliff Kingsbury. AP

With all of the certainty of betting on a race horse, The Art Briles Watch continues.

The former Baylor coach was most recently spotted as a “guest coach” for the Cleveland Browns, but he is still very much looking for a place to call a new home.

A common theory is that he will be hired by an NFL team in the offseason as an offensive coordinator, or return to the University of Houston after Tom Herman leaves, even though his school is trying to give him an extension.

The obvious issue for Briles returning to the college game is whether a university will want to deal with the negative publicity that will come with that announcement.

There is the very real chance Briles may be “Switzer’d”. In 1989, after numerous incidents involving his players that included drugs, sexual assault and guns, Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer resigned. Switzer was named in a handful of penalties levied by the NCAA, although he adamantly denied any wrong doing.

Would another school have wanted to hire Switzer? He was only 51, but he made it clear on the day he left OU that he would not coach at another school.

Switzer returned to coaching when Jerry Jones hired him to “coach” the Dallas Cowboys from 1994 to 1997.

If any school may take on Briles it’s his alma mater - Texas Tech, which may be in the market for a new coach. Located in Lubbock, the Red Raiders operate off the grid and have the distinction of giving sports’ single biggest jerk, Bobby Knight, a second chance.

Current head football coach Kliff Kingsbury is a good lookin’ man, but his teams look like something out of a Glamour Shots trash bin; following a 66-59 home loss to Oklahoma on Saturday in Lubbock, Coach Bro is now 22-22 as a college head coach.

I asked him during the Big 12 football coaches’ conference call if Saturday’s performance was a matter of scheme, or just superior personnel from the Sooners.

“It was more technique and fundamdentals and defensive back and linebacker play and just not being very sharp in technique and fundamentals,” he said.

That’s a nice way to take the blame off his players.

There is no ideal way to spin this: Since Bro started at Tech with an 8-5 record and a Holiday Bowl win in 2013, the Red Raiders are an ish 14-17 with historically great offenses and epically bad defenses.

While Tech’s offense leads the nation, its defense ranks 127th in the FBS level. That is second to last only to Oregon.

Last season, the Red Raiders’ defense ranked 122nd. The season before that, they were 127th. And in his Kingsbury’s first season, they were 124th.

Red Raider fans are loyal and understand that their alma mater is one of the harder jobs in FBS, but Kliffy’s tenure is not close to The Pirate (Mike Leach) but rather is just about on par with The Politician (Tommy Tuberville).

It would undeniably tempting to call Briles and have him return to the place where he finished his undegraduate degree. If any coach would understand West Texas and Texas Tech, it would be Art Briles. If any coach would be grateful for this chance and would not look to leave, it would be Art Briles. If any coach could succeed at Texas Tech, it would be Art Briles. He won in Waco.

If any school would extend a “second chance” it is Texas Tech; it was Tech that reached out to former Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight and gave him the keys in 2001 despite the conisderable baggage he brought with him.

Lubbock is so far removed from large cities that it creates a bubble that act as a shield to too much negative attention.

The problem: Coach Bro is signed through 2020 with $17.1 million guaranteed. That would be hard number even for Red McCombs and his fat cat UT buddies to swallow.

As much as that financial reality exists so too does the fact that the lovey-dovey romance between Texas Tech and Kliff Kinsgsbury is over, and one of the most successful coaches in America - Art Briles - is available and wants a job.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram