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Kliff Kingsbury got ‘sorry’ text from Matt Rhule after Texas Tech firing

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

The two head coaches featured in Sunday’s Week 4 matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers aren’t strangers.

In fact, Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury and Panthers head coach Matt Rhule share an odd college memory from their previous coaching stops.

It was unearthed Wednesday morning during Kingsbury’s media availability with Carolina beat reporters.

As the Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach, Kingsbury faced off against Rhule and his Baylor Bears back in the final game of the 2018 regular season.

It was one to forget for Kingsbury and the Red Raiders. Losing 35-24 in the rivalry game, the writing was on the wall that Kingsbury coached his final game in Lubbock. The Red Raiders finished 3-6 in the Big 12, tied for seventh in the conference.

Kingsbury was let go a day later after posting a 35-40 record in six seasons with the team. Texas Tech went home with a 5-7 overall record looking for a new head coach, while Rhule and Baylor went bowling.

But before Rhule began his game prep for the Bears’ bowl game, the head coach had one last thing to say to Kingsbury.

“I consider him a friend. He’s one of the guys I called when I was trying to figure out last year if I was going to go to the NFL or not,” Rhule told reporters on Wednesday. “I gave him a call and said, ‘What’s your experience with it?’ He was kind enough to let me send a couple of my Baylor coaches out to talk football with him when he first went to Arizona to help us in the Big 12. I was sad for him at the time because I think he’s a really good coach. I thought he did a great job at Texas Tech.

“When he was leaving, I just wanted to call and let him know if there’s anything I could do I would love to always be there for him, just like I know he would do for me. Then he got this opportunity in Arizona, I was fired up for him. I know he’ll do a great job. So you know what, every chance I have to see him, I make sure to reach out to him, and like I said, he’s always been really good to me.”

The trajectory since then has been different for the two, even though both have ended up among the NFL’s ranks.

Rhule went on to coach Baylor for another season in 2019, posting an 11-3 record, before joining the Panthers this season. Kingsbury went from taking a job as USC’s offensive coordinator to becoming Arizona’s head coach last season. Entering Sunday, it’s Kingsbury who has the upperhand on Rhule and the Panthers, sitting at 2-1 compared to Carolina’s 1-2 start.

Luckily for Kingsbury, that awkward “sorry about that” text alert shouldn’t be popping up on his phone when facing Rhule this time around. Though a win would certainly feel that much sweeter given their last meeting.


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