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Hocutt says many references attested to Kingsbury's readiness

Tech AD puts high expectations on new hire

Posted: December 19, 2012 - 5:01pm  |  Updated: December 20, 2012 - 1:23am
Kirby Hocutt speaks during the Kliff Kingsbury introductory news conference at the United Spirit Arena.
Kirby Hocutt speaks during the Kliff Kingsbury introductory news conference at the United Spirit Arena.
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When Kirby Hocutt suddenly found himself in need of a head football coach, it helped that he was well-acquainted with Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin from their time together at Oklahoma. So Sumlin became a key reference in Hocutt’s ultimately hiring A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, but far from the only one.

Hocutt said he talked to “an enormous amount” of contacts, including NFL coaches, college coaches and athletic directors, in the process that brought Kingsbury back to his alma mater.

“I talked to those that Kliff had played for,” Hocutt said. “I talked to those that Kliff had played with. I talked to those who Kliff had coached against. And the constant that kept coming back was: Great character. Hard worker. Lifelong Red Raider. The consistent theme was ‘Kliff has prepared for this opportunity.’ ”

Hocutt talked at length Wednesday about the process that led to Kingsbury’s hiring seven days before and what the expectations are. Though Kingsbury will be a first-time head coach in only his sixth year coaching, Hocutt sounded as if there will be little grace period.

Asked his expectations for Kingsbury and in year four, the last of his initial contract, Hocutt said, “Our goal is to be the best college football program in the state of Texas. When you’re the best in the state of Texas, then you’re going to be one of the best in the country. That’s what we’re working toward.”

Hocutt said he never sets the bar with an expected number of victories, because of the vagaries of a season such as bad bounces and injuries.

“All that being said, we want a winning football program,” he said. “It’s a journey. We’re not going to get too high with the highs or too low with the lows, but we’re going to make sure we make progress each year to achieve our ultimate goal and that’s to win a Big 12 Conference championship and compete for the national championship.”

Tech should see an initial pop at the ticket office regardless of the wins.

Hocutt was aware a large number of Tech fans were clamoring for Kingsbury. Still, he sounded at least a little taken aback by the first-week response.

“I anticipated it would create excitement,” Hocutt said, “but the tremendous amount, I think, is unprecedented. I have not experienced anything like this before.

“Any time you sell over 1,200 new season tickets in the middle of December, when you have eight new requests for stadium suites — we have 85 suites and they’re all sold out, and we have a waiting list now of eight accounts that want a suite — and your club-level seats are sold at 100 percent capacity and you have a waiting list of over 150 individuals who want to purchase club seats, what an awesome position to be in.”

Tech is 7-5 this season, getting ready to play Minnesota (6-6) next week in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.

Hocutt hired Kingsbury four days after Tommy Tuberville resigned unexpectedly to become head coach at Cincinnati. That happened on a Saturday, and Hocutt interviewed Kingsbury and two other candidates the following Tuesday.

When Hocutt’s plane landed back in Lubbock that Tuesday night, the AD’s mind was made up. The two had made plans to visit again on Wednesday, which turned out to be the day Kingsbury was hired.

Asked whether Kingsbury was the No. 1 choice from the start or became so over the four days, Hocutt said, “I wouldn’t say I had a ranked list. He was at the top of list. It became apparent Tuesday night on my flight home that he was the number-one choice, that he was the right person. So at that point in time, all efforts and conversations were exclusively with coach Kingsbury. We were fortunate that he wanted to be here.”

The other top candidate was Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who Hocutt went all the way to South Carolina to interview after he interviewed Kingsbury. As a former Texas high school coach, Morris led teams to six state-championship games in 16 years and won three.

“Chad Morris is going to be a head coach,” Hocutt said. “Chad Morris is going to have an opportunity to run his own program. He’s ready, he’s prepared and he has done an outstanding job at Clemson. He is very respected. His time’s going to come, and Clemson is very fortunate to have Chad Morris.”

Hocutt said he didn’t take into account Kingsbury’s age, 33, noting that former Tech coach Marsha Sharp was 29 when she became Lady Raiders head coach.

“It’s about what you’ve done to put yourself in that position,” Hocutt said. “I think it’s about preparation and where you’ve been, who you’ve been around and who you are as a person.

“Kliff is a natural leader. Kliff is one of the best coaches in the country as far as understanding systems, schemes. He has a clear definition in his mind of what he plans to do here, about the staff he wants to put around him, about how he’s going to build our program.”

Once Tech settled on Kingsbury and university leaders had signed off on his hiring, Tech put a twist on the announcement. The first confirmation came in a brief video clip that Hocutt posted to Twitter.

He said the idea wasn’t his, but came from Blayne Beal, Tech’s associate athletic director for media relations.

“I’m more traditionalist and old-fashioned,” Hocutt said, “but Blayne said, ‘Kirby, you really need to do this. The excitement and the unexpectedness of that would be the right thing to do.’ So I have to give it to him, that that was good counsel. I’m just happy that we were able to shoot the video and tweet it. I wasn’t sure I could pull that off.”

(Staff writer Nick Kosmider contributed to this report.)

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Potentially on the verge of sports history ...

is, of all places, Lubbock TX. The above article spurred me to dream a Kliffmas miracle. Once upon a time, in a land under our feet, a new kingdom was birthed, but without a king. After approximately 160 years of ups and downs, an evil arose to the east. The wizard Churchhill ventured westward across the sea, recruiting the Light bearing Lady to venture forth from her hobbit-like hole. Just wanting to enjoy the new-found peacefulness of her garden, she initially resisted his overtures, but soon realized peace was elusive as the wind. Thus were born heroes, the "greatest generation"! Over 7,000,000 lights extinguished before the darklord was vanquished.


And new heroes were, born !!

Of a different gladiatorial nature they where, but heroes nevertheless. Bryant the Bear, Stan the Man, Russell and Hondo, and the King, Sir Henry Aaron! And then, another evil wind blew forth. The FREE AGENCY had arrived. Kingdoms withered, as knights in their drunken lust of gold roamed the lands as mercenaries. And yet, as children wandered aimlessly, a few brave souls resisted the temptress. Dallas the Fortunate One, led by Three-Rings, duped the Northern Vikings into forging a new Dynasty in Southfork. But alas, the FREE AGENCY awoke and destroyed the gridiron, aided by the gluttony of another evil jerry. The Ripken survived, along with the Elway, the Admiral, and a few other brave souls. Even the Aik-Man was bludgeoned into submission by the JerryWorld. And yet another King arose, the first, last, and only hope of the Clevelanders, LeBron the False Prophet. He who raised the Lady of Lights arm to reveal its frenchy armpit, unclean and unshaven.....The treacherous Ohioan. He who without no liberal could accede to the throne. And the False One took his talents south to the beach. Thus was born the phrase "Ain't Cleveland A Beach?". LeBron sayeth thee Nay!


RETURN OF THE KING!!! (apologies to tolkien)

To the west, a swashbuckler mesmerized a land-locked land, and led the Lubbockites towards.....a landlocked land. Guns were raised as Friday Night Lights were transferred to Saturdays. All was well as Raiderville wandered the South Plains, replacing cyclones with dust devils. Wildcats tamed, bears benutted, and copycowboys of the north kept to their still waters in the shadow of the Covered Wagon. Yet even he of multiple National TITLES would sooner or later bow to the will of ....... The UnBelievably Enormously ReVILLEd orange pile of male bovine fecal material, the Longhorn (aided in its rule by the refs and umps). Besieged, belittled, and beheaded by the pirates of the llano estacado, the aggie; much as the Polish of Badgerland were made the butt of, this joke of Tejas, under the yolk of the dreaded longhorn, the lowly aggie plotted its vengeance. As the haboob Kh@nceollor blew the pirate-king off his high-horse, the Aggie arose.


There and back again (Return of the King pt II)

The Lubbockites, defense-less now for some time, prayed for deliverance from their sorry plight. Having worshipped their idol, the football gods ignored their pleas. Plagues of swirling Iowan winds; bears and tigers and wildcats, oh my! Finding nary a jayhawk here and there, raiderville was starving, as wild facts of coyote feaco'd upon the bills, nash-ing their ravenous teeth upon peters and richards. Daves not here, man. Sorry, flashback from seventies. Remember the Houston game did those aggies, and lured kliff away with promises of southeastern riches. Emboldened by its recent conquest of the rudderless matadors the Aggie Juggernaut rolled eastward, into and over the Al-Alabama. But a storm was brewer-ing as the east texas fog was lifting, and an ill wind blew to the Ohioan once again. Kirby the Kliffbringer was on the move. The football gods smiled. Tom the Cowardice had inadvertently delivered the Raiders to the promised land. Kliff, Knephew of Kent, reKruitee of spiKe, mentored by miKe, the King has returned. Koach Kingsbury Kills the evil Kow. Long live King Kliff!! And the Lubbockites celebrate a merry Kliffmas, followed by.....Aw krap, my alarm went off an hour ago and I'm late for .....Merry Christmas, God Bless, and may the Kliff be with you !!!


Brilliant, Pete

My favorite is "copycowboys of the north". And the Cheech and Chong reference! What talent you have for written expression. Greatness.



It is so true about UT and their ref control.


Well, thank you very much, but I wouldn't ...

... go quite that far, as the general outline is a blatant rip-off of my personal favorite literary masterpieces, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy (hint for all adults: Looking for a gift, want that child to read on their own, even teenagers; All four books are available in paperback). I just saw the Hobbit movie tuesday night (okay, but the book is much better) and that popped into my head after reading the above article. That, and many references are to individuals that have a war of posts right here (including Dave), and without their feuding the story would not have been possible. So, a person not reading the posts to these articles these past 3 weeks will not get some of those references. You mentioned Cheech & Chong, but that was a twofold reference inspired by Dave here foremost. And it seems to me that we always get screwed by the refs every time we play UT. Nobody can possibly be that inept towards one team; law of averages says bad calls would even out over a long period of time, and that is quite obviously not the case !!

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