From failed college head coach one season to NFL head coach the next. That’s the career trajectory the Anna Kournikova of college football has taken.
Amidst various reports that USC was blocking its newly-minted offensive coordinator, Kliff Kingsbury, from interviewing for NFL jobs — specifically, head coaching vacancies with the Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets — it was reported that, either because the Trojans reversed their stance or the coordinator quit, Kingsbury was interviewing for the Jets job Monday. Tuesday, the interviews shifted to the Cardinals offering Kingsbury the Arizona job.
It’s one of the more stunning coaching developments in recent memory.
The 39-year-old Kingsbury was the Red Raiders’ head coach for seven years from 2012 through this season. Prior to that, he was the coordinator at a pair of different FBS programs for a total of three seasons — Texas A&M (2012) and Houston (2010-11).
Kingsbury is viewed as one of the brightest offensive minds at any level of the sport, although that didn’t translate to much on-field success in Lubbock as he went 35-40 overall and 19-35 in Big 12 play. He did, though, play a role in helping develop Patrick Mahomes into a first-round pick who is now an overwhelming favorite to claim an MVP trophy in just his second season in the NFL. Additionally, he had at least a small role, especially initially, in the collegiate career of Baker Mayfield, one that continued in Oklahoma with a Heisman Trophy and ultimately becoming the No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 NFL draft.