A list of Kliff Kingsbury’s haters and skeptics
We don’t know if this will work, either.
When the Arizona Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury to be their head coach, it went against the grain, even in an NFL head-coach hiring cycle that bucked traditional trends of bringing on retreads and promoting long-tenured coordinators to lead pro football organizations.
Kingsbury went 35-40 as a college head coach at Texas Tech. He quarterbacked in the NFL but hasn’t coached in it. Arizona’s front office led by GM Steve Keim and president Michael Bidwill have led the charge in helping their new coach fill out his staff.
Forget the track Kingsbury took to reach the NFL: he was fired from Texas Tech this offseason, took the offensive coordinator job at a high-profile USC program, then lasted just a few weeks before the Cardinals and Jets expressed interest in him to become their head coach.
Kingsbury’s hire is still unique based on his resume.
But a year after Arizona went the traditional route and watched as long-time NFL assistant Steve Wilks failed to improve the Cardinals in 2018, the team did something different. And not everyone is drinking the Kool-Aid.
For the record, here is a short-list of national pundits, analysts and writers who have graced TV screens and our airwaves with tepid-at-best takes of the Cardinals’ hire of Kingsbury.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith
“This dude Kingsbury that just got hired by the Arizona Cardinals! I mean my goodness! … Is there something that I have missed here? Is there something that I have failed to comprehend? Is this guy some golden boy that I missed?
“The man didn’t even have a .500 record at Texas Tech. He got an offensive coordinator’s job at USC and before he had a chance to take a leak, this brotha’s got a head coaching job in the National Football League? How much time … did he actually spend at USC? What, a week? He didn’t even have an opportunity to go to Roscoes for chicken and waffles. I mean, what the hell is going on?
“And this guys is some candidate that you’re clamoring for? OK, OK, he’s photogenic. The ladies will love Mr. Kingsbury — Mr. Kliff Kingsbury, I mean, let’s stop the presses right now. The ladies are going to be all over the place drooling over Kliff Kingsbury. He’s photogenic. In some people’s eyes, he looks like a model. In my personal opinion, he looks like he belongs on ‘The Bachelor.’ Here’s the problem: He looks like he belongs on the ‘The Bachelor’ more than he belongs on the sidelines as a head coach for a National Football League team.”
NFL insider Mark Schlereth
“What are his degrees of separation from Sean McVay? … I fist-bumped Sean McVay and I haven’t washed that hand since. So I am now currently in line to be a head coach. I got McVay on me. It’s still stuck on me. I think the whole thing is asinine, I think it’s ridiculous because a dude is young and he sends out emojis on his texts that he can communicate with people.”
FOX Sports’ Charles Davis
“I like Kliff Kingsbury a lot. I’ve known Kliff, I covered him in college his first year at Texas Tech … Is the offense Kliff’s bringing transferable and sustainable in the NFL? That’s a question. Is he going to adapt? I highly suspect he will. But I guess my biggest thing is, you look out, and you say, ‘We need this type of criteria for people to be head coaches in the league,’ and I don’t know if Kliff hits that criteria and yet he has one of these jobs.
“Before anyone can even start in and start and sending me stuff and say, ‘Oh he’s going to turn it into (a) race (issue),’ it’s not about that. This is not race. This is, ‘Where is the work experience? Where is the background in the NFL game, where is all that?’ None of this matters if Kliff comes in and gets the job done. We’ve never been a hundred percent right about every person who’s gotten a job … Kliff could very well prove Steve Keim, Michael Bidwill exactly right.
“But is it fair to question it going in? Yeah, it’s fair to question it because this is darn near unprecedented. What we’re talking about … when have we had a guy who got fired in college, didn’t take another college job, was going to be a coordinator, and then got an NFL head-coaching job in the same cycle?”
ESPN’s Trey Wingo
“Well, two things: One, I need to throw out the idea that maybe there’s one Sean McVay … Specifically with Kliff, look, I hope it works out. I really do. I hope he is great with Josh Rosen — I always thought Rosen and (the Jets’ Sam) Darnold were the best two quarterbacks in the draft last year … I hope (Rosen) and Kliff hit it off and Josh has a monster career.
“But I have to ask, when he was fired in November after six seasons at Texas Tech where he was five games under .500, was anyone saying at that time, ‘Well that guy should get an NFL job tomorrow?’ It’s like the Kliff Kingsbury experience went from 0 to 60 in like 0.2 seconds, I’m trying to figure out what exactly happened there.
“My question is, what about him at Texas Tech made him the next greatest head-coaching prospect in the NFL? That’s all I’m asking.”
NFL Network’s Steve Wyche
“Before I get to my thoughts, among, like NFL assistant coaches and personnel people and whatever, the thinking emoji — you know the emoji’s got his face in his hand right now like ‘hm’ — this has drawn the biggest question marks because people are kind of wondering ‘Why now?’ People know the offensive acumen, they know it’s an offensive league … but are you hiring an offensive coordinator and giving him a head-coaching title? Or are you hiring someone who can control the environment?
“We know a lot of being a head coach in the NFL is crisis management … is he that guy? Because if he is, he could be a home run. But if not, this is going to be one of these, ‘What were the Cardinals thinking?’
“I think this is a real big wait-and-see. My personal opinion, I’ve heard nothing but positive things about him in terms of an offensive play designer and an offensive schemer. But I heard the same things about Steve Spurrier and Bobby Petrino when they came to the NFL as well.”
NFL insider John Clayton
“Interesting hire. We’ll see how it goes. I think that’s going to be the one — the most unique of the eight hires that’ll end up happening. You say that he didn’t have the great record in college. It’s going to be a transition with the way the offense is. You know he’s bright, he’s got the college touch right now. But again, this is a big venture, trying to get him into the NFL to see how well he can do.
“I think the key’s going to be is what he does as far as hiring on the assistant coaches … You know when you take a college coach with virtually no NFL experience out of there, there’s not a lot of great resumes for success. So this is a pretty interesting gamble.”
“How in the hell do you get fired from Texas Tech as the head coach and become head coach of the Arizona Cardinals? … He’s won 36 games — 35 games I think in six years. What his resume tells me about him is that he’s a damn good play-caller, he’s a great offensive mind. But he’s a terrible head coach.
“It tells me he understands the position. But when you’re head coach, you don’t coach a position. You coach a team.
“I don’t understand this hire.”