PHOENIX — The Arizona Cardinals introduced Kliff Kingsbury as their new head coach Wednesday in a press conference at the team's Tempe facility.
Though some think Kingsbury came straight out of the 2004 Hollywood romance, "The Notebook," he actually comes to the Cardinals from Texas Tech by way of USC, where he accepted an offensive coordinator job this offseason. But when the Arizona Cardinals came calling, Kingsbury couldn't pass on an NFL opportunity, leaving "La La Land" behind.
“Even though I grew up on Texas, I actually became a Cardinals fan in high school," Kingsbury, a former quarterback, said. "When they drafted Jake Plummer, I was a big Jake Plummer fan.”
Kingsbury played quarterback at Texas Tech from 1998-2002, breaking seven NCAA Division I-A records under the air raid attack of then-head coach Mike Leach.
The New England Patriots picked him in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL Draft, bounced around the NFL for several years and played in one regular-season game for the New York Jets, going 1-2 for 17 yards in a 2005 game against the Denver Broncos.
As a coach, Kingsbury has been a quarterback whisperer, working with six NFL quarterbacks, most recently Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield, two of the NFL's premier young signalcallers.
“I see it from their perspective," Kingsbury said at the press conference. "I want to customize the offense to what they do best and make sure they understand me as a play caller.”
That's why the Cardinals circled Kingsbury as a target: He's helped mold young quarterbacks, and they happen to have one in Josh Rosen.
“Josh Rosen is incredibly talented, one of the most talented throwers that you will see," Kingsbury said. "A young player, obviously, that I’m excited to work with and develop, but as a pure thrower, it’s hard to find a guy who throws it better.”
Kingsbury is likely to bring some of Leach's passing-forward philosophy to the Cardinals as the team's offensive playcaller, a trend many in the NFL are aiming to follow.
Critics will point to Kingsbury's 35-40 record at Texas Tech and ask why the Cardinals hired a head coach with a losing record at the college level and no NFL coaching experience. Kingsbury is hoping to leave the negativity in the past.
“There’s nothing I can say today that’s going to change that," he said, "and I know it’s about the work that started (Tuesday) and from this point forward.”
Kingsbury is focused on putting together a coaching staff now, likely full of NFL veteran coaches to help him adjust to the professional game. He also said he's hoping Cardinals Hall-of-Fame-bound wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald sticks around to work with him.
“What a great role model, what a great leader to have on your team and I would be honored and love to work with him," Kingsbury said. "He’s a guy I’ve admired from afar for a long time and I think we all hope that he’ll be back.”