Kliff Kingsbury never started a CFL game, but that didn’t stop his football path to becoming an NFL head coach.
Kingsbury was signed by the Montreal Alouettes in 2007 after one-year stints with the NFL’s Patriots, Saints, Jets, and NFL Europe’s Cologne Centurions. Traded to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during training camp in exchange for quarterback Brad Banks, Kingsbury would dress in 14 games as the third-string pivot behind Kevin Glenn and Ryan Dinwiddie. Winnipeg lost the Grey Cup to Saskatchewan that season, Kingsbury’s one and only in the CFL.
Kingsbury began his coaching career at the University of Houston the next year, eventually helping Johnny Manziel win the Heisman Trophy as Texas A&M’s offensive coordinator in 2012. That propelled Kingsbury to the head coach ranks in 2013 at his alma mater Texas Tech. After six seasons leading the Red Raiders, Kingsbury was fired in November.
Kingsbury developed quarterback Patrick Mahomes while at Texas Tech. Mahomes went on to be a first-round NFL pick in 2017 and threw for over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in 2018. He is currently the favourite to win the NFL’s MVP award.
Mahomes’ rise has created hype around Kingsbury — and NFL teams have listened. Just over a month after accepting the role of offensive coordinator with the USC Trojans, the Arizona Cardinals have hired the 39-year-old as the club’s new head coach.
Less than 12 years after watching Ryan Dinwiddie and the Bombers lose to the Riders in the Grey Cup, Kingsbury has ascended to the highest role in the football coaching ranks.