LUBBOCK (AP) — Kliff Kingsbury’s hiring did more than just reunite a Texas Tech fan base still riled by the firing of the school’s winningest coach.
The youngest coach in any BCS-automatic qualifying conference also upped Red Raiders fans’ enthusiasm to levels not seen since Graham Harrell hit Michael Crabtree for a game-winning score to topple No. 1 Texas in 2008. Ticket sales are reaching record levels.
Kingsbury’s was the first in a long line of record-setting quarterbacks under Mike Leach, who the university fired in 2009 after he won 84 games in 10 seasons. The former Texas A&M offensive coordinator who helped guide Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel last season, Kingsbury steps in for Tommy Tuberville, who left to coach at Cincinnati.
The Red Raiders finished last year at 8-5, losing four of their final six games. At 34, Kingsbury doesn’t see his age as a detriment. But there’s more going for him (and five other recent former Red Raiders on the coaching staff) than being able to relate to players who aren’t that much younger.
“Being in a place that I played and wasn’t too far removed from, I think that helps,” he said. “It’s easy to sell a product when you lived it and you loved it and you’re telling the parents and telling the kids. Hopefully, they see that passion.”
The Red Raiders open their season Aug. 31 at SMU.
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