Just months after buying a one-way ticket to Thailand, Kliff Kingsbury is making a return to college football. According to reports, the former Texas Tech head coach is heading to the USC Trojans as a senior offensive analyst on Lincoln Riley’s staff.
Kliff Kingsbury Returning to College Football
As first reported by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, former Red Raiders head coach and renowned quarterback guru Kingsbury is making a return to college football with USC.
The move comes a little over four years after he accepted the position of offensive coordinator for the Trojans, only to become the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. Kingsbury was officially on the staff in Southern California for 34 days between 2018 and 2019.
Although several reports suggest he will become the QBs coach at USC — the position currently held by head coach Riley — The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman suggests that although his role will include being in quarterback meetings and game-planning, his official title will be Senior Offensive Analyst.
Kingsbury’s return to college football comes after what many deemed as a failed tenure with the Cardinals. Despite going 11-6 during the 2021 seasons, his 28-37-1 overall record compounded by a dismal 4-13 campaign, saw the fourth-year NFL coach dismissed.
Kingsbury famously purchased a one-way ticket to Thailand following his departure from the desert. Although that appeared to signal a coaching hiatus, he interviewed with the Houston Texans for an assistant role this offseason.
However, any return to college always seemed like a more likely route back to coaching. Kingsbury’s 35-40 record as a head coach and questionable decision-making over playing personnel potentially prevented a role as the head of a college football staff.
The role as a senior offensive analyst working predominantly with the USC stable of quarterbacks led by Heisman Trophy-winning superstar Caleb Williams gives Kingsbury a perfect entry back into the college football world.
Meanwhile, between the new USC quarterback brain trust of Riley and Kingsbury, they’ve coached or developed four of the last nine Heisman Trophy winners plus NFL MVP and two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Although his head coaching reigns at Texas Tech and Arizona were ultimately unsuccessful, it’s worth remembering that as an assistant, Kingsbury was the 2011 Offensive Coordinator of the Year while at Houston. He was also a Broyles Award finalist after helping lead Johnny Manziel to the 2012 Heisman Trophy.
With USC QB Williams the early favorite to land the award for a second consecutive season, Kingsbury finds himself in a prime position to heal his damaged reputation during the 2023 CFB campaign.