For Kliff Kingsbury, the timing is right

Updated: March 20, 2013, 10:10 AM ET
By Travis Haney

There are a fleet of coaches in the country who fancy themselves as players' coaches, those who can uniquely identify with today's college athlete. And some legitimately are. Those close to new Texas Tech head man Kliff Kingsbury are convinced, though, that he might just be the quintessential players' coach.

"Those kids, they love to play for him," one of his peers said this week. "The main thing is they don't want to disappoint him. He builds relationships so well that they don't want to disappoint him. He competes his ass off and wants to win so bad that the kids see his passion and want to match it."

Kingsbury, a 2002 Tech grad, probably relates better than most because he is not far removed from his playing career. He's 33, the youngest head coach with a BCS job (he's third-youngest in the FBS). He was on the Patriots, Saints and Jets' rosters from 2003-05. And he was on a CFL roster as recently as 2007.

That's when he decided learning from another young, energetic coach -- Kevin Sumlin at Houston -- might be more a beneficial education than toting a clipboard, scouting future opponents on tape and sometimes throwing a football.

But one of Kingsbury's friends noted that each of those NFL stops, even the years in NFL Europe and Canada, provided him with philosophical devices he uses now.