There’s a lot of football left to be played, but Texas Tech will be hard-pressed to reach a lower point than its 82-27 loss Saturday at TCU.
But the view of the ceiling from the basement in which Tech currently resides isn’t much higher. When Red Raider fans look back on the 2014 season, the high point could well be a win over perennial Big 12 cellar dweller Kansas.
As bad as that prognosis might sound for the Red Raiders, that’s one of the better-case scenarios. Tech could remember 2014 as the year the university athletic department signed its football program to mediocrity–quite literally.
The day prior to the Red Raiders’ opener–a 42-35 win over FCS Central Arkansas–the university signed head coach Kliff Kingsbury to a contract extension through 2020. Now, athletic departments get increasingly antsy to lock up coaches, both as a way of fending off potential suitors and showing commitment to the long-term outlook of the program.
But with the points piling fast and the losses accumulating almost as quickly, folks in Lubbock have to wonder if giving Kingsbury an additional three years on his original deal was perhaps a bit hasty.
Tech is, at present, a dumpster fire.
TCU’s 82 points set a new benchmark in futility for what is arguably the worst defense in Power 5 football, and in the running for one of the worst defenses in all of FBS. The Horned Frogs were the fourth Big 12 to score at least 37 points on the Red Raiders, and the fifth opponent period to clear that mark.
Of Power 5 competition, only lowly Kansas score less with 21. And for an indicator of how bad KU is, bear in mind the Jayhawks are playing for an interim head coach.
And it isn’t just prolific Big 12 offenses hanging staggering numbers on the Red Raiders, either.
Not counting SEC foe Arkansas, Tech allowed 30.5 points per game in the nonconference–to aforementioned Central Arkansas and UTEP. Not exactly the 2001 Miami Hurricanes gashing Tech, there.
Tech had the obvious problem with since-resigned defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt contributing to the initial defensive woes. Wallerstedt’s subsequent departure has led to turmoil typical of a unit dealing with midseason change.
It’s unfair to pin Wallerstedt’s personal troubles on Kliff Kingsbury. Additionally, questioning his contract extension with the benefit of hindsight is easy; particularly in the here-and-now. There’s a lot of time between now and 2020, and Kingsbury could very well right the ship.
Still, his extension was curious even before this season went so horribly awry.
Tech limped into the postseason without a meaningful win; a 6-6 Texas State team sported the best record of any of the Red Raiders’ regular-season wins.
Texas Tech’s manhandling of Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl is a reminder of that postseason wins can often be fools’ gold.
Kingsbury springboarded from an otherwise pedestrian debut season into a high-profile offseason. Few coaches have generated quite as much buzz as he did over the summer, posting Instagram photos with celebrities and establishing himself as a rising star in the process.
Surely all the new-found attention contributed to Tech’s urgency in extending Kliff Kingsbury. And to an extent, it makes sense.
Kingsbury’s Hollywood-good looks and charisma make him a seemingly ideal recruiter–which he’ll need to be in the notoriously difficult-to-recruit locale of Lubbock.
His offensive acumen was also well-established while he was an assistant to Kevin Sumlin at both Houston and Texas A&M. Kingsbury’s fingerprints are evident on a Red Raider offense that averages 31 points per game.
But a potent offense really doesn’t matter much when the defense is giving up close to 40.
Kliff Kingsbury faces some pivotal decisions in the upcoming offseason. If Texas Tech’s glaring issues aren’t resolved, 82 points won’t be remembered as 2014’s low point.