By STEPHEN HAWKINS
DALLAS — Like Mike Gundy, Kliff Kingsbury is now head coach at the Big 12 school where he was previously a standout quarterback.
There is a big difference between the two.
Kingsbury is just getting started at Texas Tech, where this fall he will be the youngest coach in a BCS automatic-qualifying league. He will be 34 when the Red Raiders play their season opener Aug. 30 at SMU.
Gundy, meanwhile, is going into his ninth season at Oklahoma State. His Cowboys have been tabbed as the preseason pick to win the conference title.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be at Oklahoma State. I’ve said that, and I mean it,” Gundy said Monday. “They took me on as a young player when I don’t think most coaches would have. ... I don’t know that I would have recruited me.
“They gave me an opportunity, and it worked out well. And obviously as an assistant coach and been fortunate enough to be the head coach,” he said. “For me personally, and I think it’s different for everybody, it means more to me to be at Oklahoma State.”
On the first day of Big 12 media days, Gundy was the first coach to take the podium. Kingsbury was the fifth and last of the day. In between were Kansas State’s Bill Snyder, TCU’s Gary Patterson and second-year Kansas coach Charlie Weis. The league’s other five teams — Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia — will be featured Tuesday.
Gundy was a Cowboys assistant for four seasons before becoming head coach, which was 16 years after his last game at quarterback. He threw for 8,473 yards from 1986-89, leaving as the Big Eight Conference career passing leader and with a school record that stood until Brandon Weeden broke it two years ago.
Kingsbury held several since-broken Big 12 records after his final game at Texas Tech in 2002, ending a four-season run when he threw for 12,429 yards and 95 TDs in 43 games.
Now only 11 years later, a season after serving as Texas A&M’s offensive coordinator with Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel, Kingsbury is the Red Raiders head coach.
“You have those (surreal) moments, but you try not to let it overwhelm you. You just attack each and every day, how can I make this program better today. That’s all I’ve done since I’ve been there,” Kingsbury said. “The first couple days you get the job, you sit in your office, what do I do next? It’s been amazing. The reception we’ve had for Texas Tech and watching all the fans get back on board and pushing this program in the right direction has been incredible.”
Oklahoma State has averaged 46 points a game over the past three seasons, and even with a new offensive coordinator, Gundy plans for his team to play even faster this season. The Cowboys do have two sophomore quarterbacks (J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf) who started multiple games last season and receiver Josh Stewart (third in Big 12 with 7.8 catches a game last season).
Kingsbury will incorporate his own high-tempo offense with the Red Raiders, no surprise considering what he did as a player and as a coach at Houston and Texas A&M.
“Kliff is a smart guy. He’s had success. He’s obviously got good pedigree,” Gundy said. “He’s been trained by one of the best in the game, and I’m sure that he’s very excited to be back in Lubbock, and will definitely bring more excitement for you guys and for the fans to Big 12 football.”
The Red Raiders still have to determine a starting quarterback. Sophomore Michael Brewer or highly touted freshman Davis Webb are competing to take over for Seth Doege, who threw for 8,646 yards the past four years.
“We’ll get them to fall camp and probably go two weeks, it varies, before we name a starter and try to get the scrimmage in,” Kingsbury said. “See how the 7-on-7 is going this summer, seen how the film is, and just who separates themselves. We did that last year at Texas A&M and it worked out a little bit for us. Hopefully we have that same success.”
Casey Pachall is back for his senior season at TCU, where he has started 17 of 25 games. But he played only four games last season before leaving school for substance abuse rehabilitation.
Patterson hasn’t said yet if Pachall or Trevone Boykin, who threw for 2,054 yards and 15 touchdowns as a freshman last season, will be start for the Horned Frogs. Pachall was still picked as the preseason All-Big 12 quarterback in the media poll.
“When he came back in the spring, to see the color back in his face, the conversations we had that we weren’t having when he left, to me, told me right away that we’d done the right thing,” Patterson said. “The easiest two answers for me to have answered and done was, number one, is just to suspend him for a couple of games and then let him come back and play, but that wouldn’t have fixed the problem. Two, to have just gotten rid of him, then what we did for everything we told him in recruiting about how we cared about him, how we did something for them in their life, and how we wanted to graduate them and do it is out the window."