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Williams: Right or wrong, quarterback exits present image issue for Kingsbury

Five quarterbacks have left the team in four months

Posted: April 19, 2014 - 10:31pm  |  Updated: April 20, 2014 - 12:10am
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Outside of that five-game losing streak to end the 2013 regular season, the worst development for Kliff Kingsbury in a year-plus on the Texas Tech coaching job is this: The five quarterbacks leaving the team in four months.

That two of the five, at best, had a chance to ever play here is beside the point. That so many would leave at once stirs up an image problem for Kingsbury, for whom image matters so much.

Cue that video from the last day of spring practice with Kingsbury going head to head in a dance competition with one of his wide receivers. Or play that sound bite with an ESPN radio host asking the Tech coach if single moms of recruits ever flirt with him and Kingsbury responding with, “You’ve got to play to your strengths.”

Two of Kingsbury’s strengths, of course, are supposed to be connecting with players and developing quarterbacks. The number of Red Raiders who speak of their coach on a first-name basis might be evidence of the former, the Case Keenum jersey on the office wall, the latter.

So with Clayton Nicholas, Baker Mayfield, Michael Brewer, Tanner Tausch and Mike Richardson all leaving in the time it might take Kingsbury to go from 5 o’clock shadow to shaggy beard, people wonder.

Who knew that, after a little more than a year’s time, folks would be asking why Kliff can’t seem to keep a quarterback.

One reason: Davis Webb is driving the competition away.

It’s also possible that a confluence of egos, a recruiting misevaluation and walk-ons with insufficient game brought the Red Raiders to this point.

Which doesn’t seem to be an exclusively Texas Tech problem.

Nationally, at least 25 quarterbacks in Division I have decided to change schools since the 2013 season ended. Google “quarterback transfer” and see how many hits you get. New names being added every day.

On Wednesday, just hours apart, word came that QBs Matt Joeckel, Tyler Matthews and Jalen Whitlow, all scholarship guys, were leaving Texas A&M, TCU and Kentucky, respectively.

In A&M’s case, Joeckel, Jameill Showers and Matt Davis have all decided to transfer in the last 15 months. Each arrived as a potential Aggies starting quarterback until Johnny Football shut down all debate.

Now Kevin Sumlin must be squirming a bit that the Aggies are down to sophomore Kenny Hill and first-semester freshman Kyle Allen as realistic options. See? Not much different than at Tech, which has a sophomore in Webb backed by true freshman Patrick Mahomes unless Mahomes chooses pro baseball this summer.

If you aren’t consumed with college football, you might think the wave of quarterback departures is taking place only at Texas Tech and that nothing like this has ever happened before. Yet, from 2004-11, 10 Tech quarterbacks left before their eligibility ran out. Some were as obscure as Tausch and Richardson. (Remember Bobby Scott? Dustin Eskew?) Some had reputations as players similar to Brewer and Mayfield (Phillip Daugherty, Jacob Karam, Scotty Young.) Stefan Loucks was to Mike Leach what Nicholas was for the last two staffs, a QB who just never made a push.

Hey, some even left in clusters.

I haven’t heard anyone bring up that from the end of the 2006 season to before spring practice in 2007, Chris Todd, Ryan Rowland and Derek Shaw departed. (A refresher: Todd couldn’t beat out Graham Harrell in a battle of young hotshot quarterbacks. Rowland decided to give up football for school, right after he’d been placed on scholarship. Shaw, an Arizona State signee who’d been the nation’s No. 1 quarterback recruit, bounced to Tech and was gone in no time for what was termed family reasons.)

Tech finished spring practice in 2006 with two scholarship quarterbacks and was looking at a year and half to get back up to four.

That’s how it transpired then.

As for how the Red Raiders’ QB numbers dwindled now, a recap:

Nicholas transferred out for the most usual reason: He was a scholarship signee buried on the depth chart. Tausch said he was leaving the team to concentrate on academics, Richardson to look for a program at which he’d have a better chance to play.

No offense to either of the walk-ons, but neither were likely to play in anything but an emergency situation. I have no confirmation of this, just my speculation, but it wouldn’t surprise me if one or both were told they had little future here, prompting their departures.

Kingsbury himself said on national signing day that Mahomes was his No. 2.

Of course, none of the questions about how Kingsbury handles quarterbacks would have been raised, had Mayfield and Brewer not lobbed grenades with their departures, Mayfield citing a communication gap with the coach.

Something about that didn’t add up. Mayfield went to quarterback meetings every day of the season, right? He’s sitting in the same meeting room with the quarterbacks coach — Kliff Kingsbury.

If something bugged Baker, did it occur to him to speak up, ask for a minute when we’re done here, get some clarity?

In any event, some Tech fans blame Kingsbury for losing the two, the grounds being that he should have taken whatever measures necessary to keep them happy — and around. Well, ya know what? This ain’t Pee-Wee League. You don’t let everybody lick the ice cream cone, just to keep them smiling.

That Kingsbury went back and forth at QB last season opened him up to criticism that he’d made rookie head-coach mistakes. I don’t know that the evidence supports that. He played the quarterback who looked most ready in August, Mayfield, until Mayfield got hurt in October. He stuck with Webb, who engineered wins against Iowa State and at West Virginia, until Webb hit a wall in game 10.

Throughout, he consistently said Brewer did not have enough time to catch up to the others after missing four months with the back injury. Conspiracy theorists couldn’t wrap their heads around the reality that the Red Raiders, like most college teams, have only two full practices in a game week, Tuesday and Wednesday being the only days that constitute more than a light workout.

The paradox in all this is the perception of Kingsbury seems to have been damaged not in the least in one of the areas it matters most. Two of the top five quarterback recruits in America — Jarrett Stidham from Stephenville and Kyler Murray from Allen — showed serious interest in Tech. Stidham committed to the Red Raiders and gives the appearance of being firm as a concrete pillar in a windstorm.

On the quarterback recruiting trail, Kliff’s image seems as tight and unruffled as his latest new haircut.


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No debate

To end any debate, this article should have begun with saying Tech has recently received its highest rated QB commit of all time, Stidham, and a big time recruit (Mahomes) is joining Tech in the fall. Hence playing QB at Tech has never had a more positive perception.


leave it to Don Williams to stir the pot

fact is, NONE of the quitters had a chance to play.

that's because Kingsbury is a hoss and the QB world knows it and he proves it over and over again by recruiting HUGE talent at QB

THAT should be the spin of this story - how Tech finally has a head coach completely capable of recruiting top-notch QB's

all of those quitters knew it and if Don Williams had any football sense, he'd know it too


yea sure

Stidham is still in high school and Mahomes is a better baseball player than football. So who plays QB this fall if/when Webb gets hurt? Goober has used all his eligibility and can't play. On top of that, doesn't look like he's too smart in cultivating enough interest to keep other QB's here. Tech's football team has become secondary to the coach and he's not that good as a coach. Least not forget the 5 straight losses after beating up on the Cupcake State's and the University's of Futility. When will they win the Big 12; when the sun comes up over Levelland!!



The sun does come up over Levelland. Stupid post. You still know nothing about football or anything else.



it's not at all stupid to consider that Webb could get hurt real bad.



Am I the only one

that grasps the true gist of this editorial? Seems the majority of you aren't able to read past the words.


You're not the only one

The West Texas spinners are hard at work on this one but they either have sand in their eyes or are way too mesmerized by the Pretty One. Just like that stench coming from Hereford there's a problem here. What other team in the US has lost five QB's in four months? What's the plan if Webb goes down? Try to think outside of the box if you can.


Think out of the box

Think out of the box guys. There are already several options. Plan A- Webb, Mahomes, Testaverde, Dee Paul, Keenon Ward. Plan B- Add other walk-ons like Tanner or Richardson. I choose not to worry about QBs who left because they realized the talent gap and they would not play, I.e. Brewer, Mayfield (left after Webb named the starter), Richardson. We need QBs who want to compete.

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