Kliff Kingsbury’s first month on the job as Texas Tech football coach involved little deception. He said he wanted a young staff heavy on ties to the university and the area, and he produced one.
Kingsbury on Friday officially announced his first group of coaches, one that, counting him, includes six recent former Red Raiders players.
“I think this place is special to them,” Kingsbury said in a news conference at the Tech football building. “I was telling the team, during our games (last year) at Texas A&M, at halftime I’d sneak over and check out the Texas Tech scores. When you’re part of this place on the level we were, it stays with you.
“And all these guys reached out to me. They all had great jobs. They were coveted employees at the universities they were at. They wanted to come back here, and they know what we can make this place.”
The five assistants coming back to Tech are Sonny Cumbie, Eric Morris, Mike Smith, Trey Haverty and Kevin Curtis, all of whom played at least part of their careers in the Mike Leach era.
The average age of the staff is 35, with six being 33 or younger and none 50 or older.
“I think it’s all positive,” Kingsbury said. “I want guys that want to be head coaches. I think that’s how you get the greatest work ethic out of them. You don’t want guys that are content to be at a certain level. You always want them to want to move up. That’s what this group is. They want to be head coaches, and I think a bunch of them will be one day.”
Among the new information that came to light Friday, Cumbie and Morris have been given the co-offensive coordinator duties.
“They’ll have a big input in the game planning,” said Kingsbury, who will call plays. “That’s the biggest thing. With me having the head-coaching duties, they’ll really take a big step in game planning and practice preparation.”
The offensive staff will consist of Cumbie, co-offensive coordinator/outside receivers; Morris, co-offensive coordinator/inside receivers; Lee Hays, offensive line; and Mike Jinks, running backs.
The defensive staff will have Matt Wallerstedt, defensive coordinator; Smith, co-defensive coordinator/outside linebackers; John Scott Jr., defensive line; Haverty, safeties; and Curtis, cornerbacks. Haverty also will oversee special teams.
Most of the announcements Friday confirmed reports of hirings over the past month. Wallerstedt is one of the most prominent hires, coming to Tech to be defensive coordinator from Texas A&M, where he was linebackers coach in 2012.
“I knew Matt and I was thinking that’s who I wanted when I came here,” Kingsbury said. “Texas A&M wanted him, too. They made it difficult to get him, which is smart because he’s a heck of a coach. We kind of worked through that process and it took a little longer, but we got the guy we wanted.”
Kingsbury got to know Wallerstedt last year when both were on the A&M staff.
The two faced each other three times in 2008 and 2009, when Kingsbury was on the Houston staff and Wallerstedt was at Air Force. The Falcons beat the Cougars two of the three times — 31-28 in the 2008 regular season and 47-20 in a bowl game after the 2009 season, holding the Cougars to a season-low. UH beat AFA 34-28 in a 2008 bowl game.
Wallerstedt was AFA’s associate head coach and inside linebackers coach at the time, but was promoted to defensive coordinator for the Falcons for 2010 and 2011.
Kingsbury said Wallerstedt had “one of the most challenging schemes I’ve seen as a coach.”
With Tech, Kingsbury said Wallerstedt will run a multiple defense, but was coy when asked if he knew the base defense.
“I don’t,” Kingsbury said. “Well, I do, but I’ll keep that until y’all check it out.”
“It’s going to be multiple and it’ll be aggressive, and that’s what I’m excited about,” Kingsbury said. “I know he’ll attack and go after people. That’s what I want when you match it with our offense.”
Like the co-offensive coordinators, Smith as co-defensive coordinator will have an added role in game planning, Kingsbury said. Smith spent the past three years on the New York Jets’ staff, two as a coaching intern and the 2012 season as outside linebackers coach.
Kingsbury said he liked what Smith was exposed to with the Jets.
“That’s an aggressive defense,” Kingsbury said, “so he has a bunch of ideas he’ll share and bring that to our staff.”
The last assistant Kingsbury landed is Scott. The Red Raiders’ new defensive line coach spent the last three years as special teams and defensive line coach at Georgia Southern, which went 10-4, 11-3 and 10-5 during his time there. Scott played at Western Carolina, making second-team all-Southern Conference at defensive end in 1998.
His hiring is still not official, pending a criminal background check that all new hires must pass.
After playing three years of pro football, Scott spent two years as a graduate assistant at Louisiana-Lafayette. Then he was an assistant at Norfolk State (2005), Western Carolina (2006-08), Missouri State (2009) and Georgia Southern.
“He has a tremendous track record of having great teams and great defenses,” Kingsbury said. “He brings a lot of energy, a great recruiter. I’m really excited to have him.”
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