When Kliff Kingsbury took the podium to answer questions late Saturday night at the Knights of Columbus Tech Kickoff Knight, he probably should have expected the first one.
Has Kingsbury named a starting quarterback?
“I can’t believe that one got brought up,” Kingsbury said, laughing. “I have not, I have not. I wish I did. I have not named one, we’re still working through it.”
The second question, however, took the coach by surprise.
Is Kliff Kingsbury — the most eligible bachelor in Lubbock — currently dating anyone?
Kingsbury laughed again before answering, “Yeah, the only person I’m dating right now is football.”
The single coach was joined on the night by former Dallas Cowboy Rocket Ismail, who had the audience roaring with stories from his days on the gridiron. Ismail also encouraged people to reach out and give love to those in need, especially people who do not outwardly seem like they are in need. New Texas Tech President Duane Nellis rounded out the trio of guest speakers on the night.
Among the speakers, love for the city of Lubbock and its people remained a central theme.
“In the last 10 years, I’ve lived in 10 different cities, and I kept searching for that feeling,” said Kingsbury. “I kept searching, and these last nine months, I’ve had it back. It’s the first time in 10 years I’ve felt at home.”
Ismail stole the show initially with his spirit and charm on the stage, but the Lubbockites in attendance gave most of their focus to Kingsbury with the Texas Tech football season opener against SMU now less than a week away.
“We’ve had an incredible camp,” Kingsbury said. “Some of these seniors have had three different head coaches. All of them have had two different head coaches. They didn’t sign up to play for me, so I can’t tell you how much I appreciate their effort. The way they’ve bought into our culture, our structure, the way we run things, it means the world to us.”
Nellis, who came to Texas Tech this year after leaving the University of Idaho, said in his speech he likes what he’s seen on the field so far under Kingsbury’s new regime.
“I’ve had the opportunity to attend a couple practices,” he said. “I can tell you they’re excited, they’re motivated, they’re ready. We’ve got a great football coaching staff.”
The speakers at the event came to support the Knights of Columbus, who also provided a live auction and gun raffle for the Tech fans who came out on Saturday. The purpose of the event every year is to raise money for scholarships, many of which go to athletes who have completed their NCAA eligibility but need financial assistance to finish their degrees.
“In the last six years, most of the proceeds are going to annual scholarships,” said Jim Seideman, a member of the Knights of Columbus and organizer of the Tech Kickoff Knight. “All along we’ve given scholarships to the band, to the cheer squad and to the Saddle Tramps, and those are annual scholarships. Last year we gave $16,000 to the Red Raider Club, the band $1,000, and the cheer squad $500.”
Others attending the event included Bishop Placido Rodriguez, who gave the invocation to start the program; the Goin’ Band from Raiderland; the Texas Tech cheer squads; and the Miller Girls, who helped with the live auction.
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