Who could replace Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech?
Texas Tech fired coach Kliff Kingsbury on Sunday, ending a six-year run in Lubbock. Kingsbury was a successful quarterback with the Red Raiders under Mike Leach and returned in 2013 as the program’s head coach. Texas Tech went 8-5 in Kingsbury’s debut but never exceeded seven wins in each of the next five years. The Red Raiders finished 5-7 in 2018, ensuring the program missed out on a bowl trip for the second time in three seasons.
Who could replace Kingsbury at Texas Tech? Here are seven names to watch:
Texas Tech Football: 7 Coaching Candidates to Replace Kliff Kingsbury
Blake Anderson, Head Coach, Arkansas State
Anderson’s name popped up in the search at Baylor just a few years ago. Would he be interested in a different Big 12 job at Texas Tech? Anderson is 39-24 in five seasons with the Red Wolves and has guided the program to five (counting 2018) bowl appearances. Arkansas State has won at least seven games in all five of Anderson’s years at the helm and had a perfect 8-0 mark in Sun Belt play in 2015. Anderson also has stops on his resume from stints as an assistant at Southern Miss, North Carolina, Louisiana, New Mexico and MTSU.
Dave Aranda, Defensive Coordinator, LSU
Aranda’s a longshot here, but he did earn his postgraduate degree in Lubbock. The California native worked as a graduate assistant with Texas Tech (2000-02) and made stops at Houston (2003-04), California Lutheran (2005-06) and Delta State (2007) before landing at Hawaii in ’08. After calling the plays for the Rainbow Warriors from 2010-11, Aranda took over as Utah State’s defensive coordinator in ’12 and followed Gary Andersen to Wisconsin in ’13. After three years with the Badgers, Aranda took over as LSU’s play-caller and has guided this unit to a place among the best in college football.
Neal Brown, Head Coach, Troy
Brown is a name familiar with most in Lubbock, as he worked with the Red Raiders from 2010-12 as the program’s offensive coordinator. He also had stints as an assistant at Delaware (2005), Troy (2006-09) and Kentucky (2013-14). Brown took over as Troy’s head coach in 2015 and is 34-16 through four years. After a 4-8 mark in his debut, Brown has guided the Trojans to three consecutive seasons of at least nine wins. While Brown is expected to move to the Power 5 ranks at some point in his career, he won’t need to jump at the first opportunity and can be patient in finding the right fit.
Seth Littrell, Head Coach, North Texas
Littrell is well-versed in the Big 12 and would be a good fit at Texas Tech. The Oklahoma native played his college ball with the Sooners and previously had a stint as an assistant at Texas Tech from 2005-08. Additionally, Littrell made stops as an assistant at Arizona (2009-11), Indiana (2012-13) and North Carolina (2014-15). He’s been the head coach at North Texas for the last three years, compiling a 23-16 record. The Mean Green won Conference USA’s West Division in 2017 and should earn a bowl trip in ’18 for the third consecutive year.
Mike Norvell, Head Coach, Memphis
Norvell was hired at Memphis after Justin Fuente left for Virginia Tech, and the program hasn’t missed a beat over the last three years. Norvell is 26-12 in that span, guiding the Tigers to a 10-3 record with a No. 25 finish in the Associated Press poll in 2017. Additionally, Memphis has claimed back-to-back American Athletic Conference West Division titles. Prior to taking over as the Memphis head coach, Norvell worked as Arizona State’s offensive coordinator from 2012-15 and at Pitt in 2011. He also has a stop in his career at Tulsa from 2007-10. Norvell also has a good track record of building high-powered offenses.
Brent Venables, Defensive Coordinator, Clemson
Interesting subplot to this job: Venables was a collegiate teammate of Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt. Venables is one of college football’s top assistant coaches. Considering he is making over $2 million a season, the former Kansas State linebacker isn’t going to be in an hurry to take a head coaching job. After his playing career with the Wildcats, Venables worked in Manhattan as a graduate assistant (1993-95) and linebackers coach (1996-98). He left for Oklahoma in 1999 and worked as a co-defensive coordinator until 2003. Beginning in 2004, Venables assumed the defensive coordinator role after Mike Stoops was hired as Arizona’s head coach and remained in that role until 2011. Venables has coordinated Clemson’s defense since 2012 and is a big reason why this program has emerged as a national title contender on a consistent basis. If Venables is going to take a head coaching job, his alma mater (Kansas State) is a possible destination. However, he can also be patient and take the right job, rather than jumping at the first opening.
Matt Wells, Head Coach, Utah State
Wells was promoted to head coach after Gary Andersen departed Logan for Wisconsin in 2013. The Aggies went 19-9 in Wells’ first two years but finished 15-23 over the next three seasons (2015-17). However, Utah State rebounded in a big way in 2018, as the Aggies finished 10-2 and spent time in the top 25 this season. Wells is regarded for his work on offense, and his 2018 unit ranks third nationally by averaging 47.2 points a game.