NORMAN — When Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury started assembling his staff shortly after being hired last December, he had two designs.
He wanted a relatively young staff that could easily relate on the recruiting trail.
Kingsbury also wanted a staff that was largely familiar with Texas Tech and Lubbock.
The staff that Kingsbury put together accomplished both. Kingsbury and his assistants average just 35 years old. Of those nine assistants, five played at and graduated from Texas Tech.
It's a model that hasn't been used much lately. In the Football Bowl Subdivision, only Air Force has a staff featuring more alumni on staff than Texas Tech.
“I think it's huge for us to all be familiar with this place's strengths, weaknesses and alumni base and particularly recruiting,” Kingsbury said. “When you're selling your program and you've lived it — you've been there and you can speak from experience — that goes a long way, not only with recruits but with their parents as well.”
Texas Tech running back Kenny Williams immediately felt the excitement when the staff was assembled, not just because of the youth but because of their familiarity with Tech.
“It's great because they come in with new energy,” Williams said before the season. “They've been where we've been at. They've been in the same meeting rooms, same locker rooms. It's easy to take knowledge from them because they've been exactly where we've been at.”
It's seemed to have paid off on the recruiting trail as well. Rivals.com has Texas Tech's 2014 class ranked No. 32 in the country, ahead of Oklahoma and seven spots behind Oklahoma State.
Bob Stoops has two Oklahoma alumni on his staff now — co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel and running backs coach Cale Gundy. Jackie Shipp was on Stoops' staff from his first season until he was fired after last season.
Stoops downplayed the benefits of hiring alumni on the staff before conceding some advantages.
“Usually those guys, they know your culture, they know the culture of the school, they know a lot of alumni so in those areas, it gives you some advantages too,” Stoops said.
During Barry Switzer's time as Sooners coach, he hired at least seven former Oklahoma players to his staff and another — Jerry Pettibone — was an assistant on the staff with Switzer and remained there after Switzer was promoted.
Switzer said he never sought out a coach because he was an Oklahoma player, he just looked for the best coach available at the time.
“It had nothing to do that they were alumni, it was them wanting to coach and then being a good coach,” Switzer said. “It was ones that you wanted to get as coaches, ones that you thought could help coach, help recruit and had an interest. Most of them all started out as GA's (graduate assistants) and some of them moved on, some stayed, and you kept the ones that you knew had the talent and ability and could help.”
Kingsbury sought them out, though.
He kept another former Red Raiders quarterback, Sonny Cumbie, on staff after Cumbie started on Tommy Tuberville's staff in Lubbock.
Then he added former Tech cornerback Kevin Curtis, receivers Trey Haverty and Eric Morris and linebacker Mike Smith as assistants.
Kingsbury, just 34, is the oldest of the group.
All had served as assistants elsewhere, like Kingsbury, rising quickly through the ranks. Haverty came from TCU, where he coached wide receivers; Morris came back from coaching inside receivers at Washington State; Curtis was at Louisiana Tech; Smith was coaching outside linebackers with the New York Jets.
“It was very designed,” Kingsbury said. “This was a school where I wanted people here that wanted to be here, were passionate about this place and wanted to make this place the type of football program that we envisioned and that we knew it could be.
“So when I was looking around, I was fortunate enough to have this many guys that had moved up in the coaching ranks at a rapid pace and get them on board.”