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Kingsbury, Tech's appeal persuaded Jinks to leave highly successful high school program

Jinks joined the Texas Tech staff as running backs coach last winter

Posted: August 21, 2013 - 10:51pm  |  Updated: August 22, 2013 - 12:27am
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  Texas Tech Athletics / Michael Strong
Texas Tech Athletics / Michael Strong
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In a bit of a coincidence, this football season for Mike Jinks will begin the way so many others have. He’ll be coaching on a Friday night in a stadium that’s good sized, but not gargantuan.

Otherwise, he’s diving into a bold new venture.

One of Texas’ most successful high school coaches the past decade at Cibolo Steele, a San Antonio suburb, Jinks joined the Texas Tech staff as running backs coach last winter. The move seemed to surprise almost no one ... except maybe Jinks himself.

Others could speculate where Jinks’ 76-18 record at Steele might lead him, unaware perhaps that Jinks had narrow parameters for a next job — if he was going to take another job at all. In late 2011, he decided not to pursue the head-coaching job at Angelo State, his alma mater, and settled in for the long haul at Steele.

“I didn’t want to leave Texas, you know what I mean?” Jinks said this summer. “We were living in the moment, having such a good time. I’d been with those coaches I was working with for the last 12 years, because we had worked together prior to coming to Steele, and it becomes family.

“I told my wife after the Angelo State deal I’d only leave for a Big 12 school in Texas. I just told her, ‘That’s not going to happen.’ So we started building our dream home. We did. We were two weeks from closing. We were two weeks from closing on our house when Kliff called.”

This was different.

Ask Jinks what finally made him leave a good situation, and that sums it up:

“Kliff Kingsbury,” he said. “Yeah, Kliff Kingsbury. ... I’ve known his family — his father, his mom before she passed. They’re 10 minutes from San Antonio and his dad’s an old ball coach. He appreciates and understands high school coaches.

“I just knew it would be a good fit. He was someone I wanted to work for and learn from. And shoot, how often do you get the opportunity to walk into a Big 12 team that’s not a bottom feeder?”

High school coaches, Jinks pointed out, rarely get invited to jump to a Big 12 staff. Texas Tech hired Art Briles from Stephenville in 2000, and Briles later became head coach at Houston and now Baylor. He’s an exception. Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris led Texas high school teams to six state championship games, but when Morris left Austin Lake Travis, it was for Tulsa.

Jinks had been coach at Steele since the school opened in 2005. The last three years, he led the Knights to a state championship in 2010, a state final in 2011 and a state semifinal in 2012 — all in Class 5A Division II.

Jinks acknowledges that he’d had four of five chances to parlay the success into another job.

But it was easy to stay put.

“I’m sitting in a situation where I was athletic director and they just gave me a big, long contract and my wife’s a principal in the district, and I’ve got 10 years until I could retire,” the 41-year-old coach said. “I wasn’t leaving unless it was a situation where it was a man I knew would have my best interests at heart.”

So this spring, Jinks jumped into college coaching. He took the crash course of NCAA rules for recruiting. He took the three-day install of the Kliff Kingsbury offense. Sometimes, out on the field, he’d catch himself calling a formation or play what he’d called it for 16 years, then have to correct the terminology.

But he loved the running backs he inherited, and they like him.

“I just love the energy he brings,” running back DeAndre Washington said. “Sometimes we don’t always have the best practices, but the one thing we can count on is coach Jinks keeping us amped up on the sidelines.”

Washington said he knew of Steele’s powerhouse reputation, but didn’t realize Jinks’ association with the Knights until he was hired by Tech.

“I see how he was able to win at Cibolo Steele,” Washington said, “because he’s a hard-working dude, he’s dedicated and he loves his job. I’m glad to have him.”

Now that he’s a college coach, Jinks says he’s wanting to do well not only for himself and Tech, but for those he represents — Texas high school coaches. Jinks has been the lead recruiter for about one-third of the players committed to Tech for next February’s class, something he attributes to his relationships with high school coaches.

“The Texas high school football coaches have been an unbelievable resource,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys out there in the state of Texas that want to see Mike Jinks be successful, because I’m one of them.

“All those high school guys want to be the next one, so anything you can do, the more guys like myself that go off and are able to have some success, the more doors can be opened.”

don.williams@lubbockonline.com

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Go Coach Jinks

As a Red Raider living in Cibolo, we're pulling hard for you Coach Jinks. You've gotten off to a great recruiting start! Excited that you've got a couple of your Steele Knights coming to Lubbock next fall!

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