Some of Kliff Kingsbury’s most memorable games as a college quarterback came against Texas A&M, and Texas Tech’s new coach wouldn’t mind making some more memories against the Aggies.
Echoing statements made last week by Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt, Kingsbury on Tuesday, March 19, said, “I thought the rivalry was awesome. I think it’s great for the state and it’s great for the schools. I’d love to be part of that again.”
There’s just one caveat.
“Just wait ’til Johnny leaves after this year,” Kingsbury said, referring to Johnny Manziel, the A&M quarterback he guided to a Heisman Trophy last season when Kingsbury was the Aggies’ offensive coordinator.
Kingsbury was asked about the topic Tuesday after he threw out the ceremonial first pitch to the Tech-Arizona State baseball game at Rip Griffin Park.
Hocutt told a group of reporters at the Big 12 Conference basketball tournament he’d welcome the chance to play A&M in every sport. The two schools didn’t face each other this school year with the Aggies’ departure to the Southeastern Conference.
Subsequent to Hocutt’s comments, Texas A&M Athletic Director Eric Hyman told The Dallas Morning News, “We would entertain anything.”
Last fall, Hocutt expressed a desire to strengthen the non-conference schedule. At the time, he said 2015 or 2016 was probably the earliest a marquee opponent could be added.
This season, Tech’s non-conference opponents are SMU, Stephen F. Austin and Texas State. Tech has a home-and-home series with Texas-El Paso in 2014 and 2015 and hosts Central Arkansas in 2014.
Realistically, how soon might a Tech-Texas A&M game happen?
“I would think soon,” Kingsbury said. “Like I said, Kirby’s excited about it. I’m excited about it, so hopefully we can come to an agreement and get that thing rolling. I just think it’s a great thing for the state. It’s a great rivalry, a great football game and it would be great for Texas.”
As a player, Kingsbury quarterbacked Tech to 12-0 and 48-47 victories over the Aggies, throwing for 474 yards and five touchdowns in the latter game in 2002. Even in a 33-15 defeat in 2000, he won approval from Tech fans for continuing to get up and keep throwing despite taking a beating from the Aggies’ pass rush.
Kingsbury’s first order of business is to get his own team in order, a process that starts this weekend when the Red Raiders open spring practice. The first workout is Friday, March 22, though 12 of the 15 sessions are closed to the public and media.
“I’m excited. Very antsy,” Kingsbury said. “The last few months have been fast and furious, and not as much coaching as you’d like. But to get out there and see what we’ve got and start evaluating our talent, I’m excited about it.”
After he was hired Dec. 12, Kingsbury pointed out that the Houston team for which he was an assistant from 2008 to 2011 twice led the nation in passing during that time and the Texas A&M team for which he was offensive coordinator last year led the Southeastern Conference in rushing.
Kingsbury indicated again Tuesday he’s flexible about what shape the offense will take.
“I think we’re going to get our base (offensive package) going and see where our personnel is at that point and then adapt our offense to that,” he said. “We’ll get our base concepts repped and then go from there.”
Kingsbury was decked out in sunglasses, a Red Raiders baseball cap and a gray Tech baseball jersey as he went to the mound Tuesday. That was after he spent 15 minutes in the bullpen, loosening the arm that once threw 95 touchdown passes for the Red Raiders.
He stood in front of the mound and delivered on target.
“It was a strike,” he said proudly. “It was a strike. I was nervous. It wasn’t pretty in warmups. I hadn’t thrown a ball in a long time, but somehow I got it over. They let me scoot up about 10 feet, too, which helped.”
Kingsbury said he was a pitcher and shortstop until his sophomore year at New Braunfels High School when he decided his future was in football.
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