LT goes one-on-one with Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury

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Former NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson goes one-on-one with Texas Tech head football coach Kliff Kingsbury in an exclusive interview with FOXSportsSouthwest.com.

LaDainian Tomlinson: What has life been like for you in Lubbock, since becoming the head coach? You seem to be a movie star living in West Texas.

Kliff Kingsbury: It’s been pretty surreal. Getting back here 10-12 years later than when I played, I’m still getting adjusted to this life, but it has been fast and furious. I haven’t been able to do much. My life is all about football and trying to get this program where we want it to be.

LT: A lot of fans have been excited about the idea that Texas Tech has returned to the way it was under former coach Mike Leach.  What will people discover different about a Kliff Kingsbury offense and team?

KK: Mike did what he did every week. He had his certain plays he would run and rep. Even if you knew the plays were coming, he would dare you to try and stop them.

We have a lot more variety in our offense. We’ll do different things week to week as far as empty and motions, different run games and that nature. Defensively, we’re a lot more aggressive than his defenses were, which is good. I think it matches up well with our offense.

LT: Do you still have a relationship with Mike Leach and have you spoken with him since you got the job?

KK: I do. I talk with Coach Leach quite often. I’m still a huge fan of his and I’m excited about what he has going at Washington State. There’s six of us here (at Texas Tech) on staff that played for him. He’s our biggest fan.

LT: As you mentioned, you have several former Tech players on your staff. And, we know Denver Broncos receiver Wes Welker has been a big supporter, since you’ve taken over. How close are you to some of your other former teammates and Tech greats?

KK: We’re a pretty close-knit group. A lot of guys are really proud of this program and what they were able to accomplish out here. It’s been fun watching a lot of those guys come back into the program. It’s really brought a bunch of energy to Texas Tech.

LT: A lot of coaches have their own style with visors or hats. Is there a story behind the sunglasses? And, why do you always wear a long-sleeve black shirt, even in 100-degree heat?

KK: It’s just something I’ve got going. I had several different types of shades to choose from, but they all looked really “coachy.” So I decided that the shades I wear every day, away from coaching, work on the field, too.  

I’ve also just always liked long-sleeve shirts. Even when I was playing, that’s what I liked to wear.

LT: I see you still have that player mindset….that’s what that is.

KK: I still think I’m a player sometimes. That’s the problem.

LT: When you were the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M last year, you were seen on the sideline spanking head coach Kevin Sumlin on the rear after an exciting play. And, you haven’t been afraid to show your enthusiasm on the sideline this year. How do you compare your coaching style to someone like Alabama coach Nick Saban, who never seems to smile?

KK: I want it to be fun. That’s why I got in this profession…to be around these players and enjoy it. I want them to know it’s OK to have fun and let your personality show. Obviously, there’s lines you can’t cross, but we want it to be exciting, and we want the kids to have fun. They’re not getting paid like pros yet, so we want to make sure they’re still enjoying themselves.

LT: Who’s the best former Texas Tech receiver in the NFL? Wes Welker, Danny Amendola or Michael Crabtree?

KK: I can’t touch that one. I’m proud of all three to see what they’ve done. Guys like Wes and Danny, who were undrafted, have gone on to have incredible careers. Crabtree was obviously a Top 10 pick, who was really coming on last year before he got hurt. He’s going to come back stronger than ever. It’s been great to have that type of representation at that position in the NFL. It’s been huge for our program.

LT: Mike Leach gave some dating tips several years ago when he was at
Texas Tech. Did you see his suggestions and do you have any advice of
your own?  

KK: I saw his, but I don’t have much to
suggest. I think it’s a case-by-case basis, so you kind of have to
adjust on the fly, when it comes to dating and advice.

LT: What is your best memory from your playing days at Texas Tech? And, do you miss the old AstroTurf at the stadium?

KK: No, that AstroTurf was brutal. It was like playing on cement out there. The postgame showers were pretty painful from the turf burns.  

My favorite memory was my very first start at Tech.  It was (former head coach) Spike Dykes’ last game. We were 5-5 and needed a win to send him out with a winning record. We won the game, beating Oklahoma even though we were big underdogs, and carried Spike off the field in his last game ever. That’s still my favorite memory.

LT: There have been a lot of changes in Lubbock since you played – and not just the football facilities. What other upgrades do you want on-campus, and what else would you like to see come to Lubbock?  

KK: It’s been great. The expansion (from when I played here to now) has been incredible. It’s one of the premiere college towns in America and I would just like it to see it continue to grow. That’s what we’ve seen at a steady rate over the past 10 years. We expect the student population to be over 40,000 here shortly. So, I’d like to see continued growth on campus and in the community.

LT: Have you had any luck getting Cincinnati on the schedule yet?

KK: We have not. We reached out and they weren’t interested. Maybe we’ll try back in a couple of years.