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Multiple sources have reported that Jerry Gray is interested in the vacant Texas Tech coaching position. Gray is currently the defensive coordinator for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. He has had a fifteen year NFL career as both as a player and as a coach. Gray is a graduate of Lubbock Estacado High School and the University of Texas. He has remained active in the Lubbock community, helping to fund college scholarship for deserving young people.
Gray is certainly not one of the hot names being tossed around as a potential head coach at Texas Tech. However, if Jerry Gray genuinely wants to come back to Lubbock permanently, why not give him an interview? Can any of the other candidates that Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt plans on interviewing really say they know more about what it means to live in Lubbock than Jerry Gray does?
So what are the reasons that Texas Tech might give for not talking to Jerry Gray? Some might say that Jerry Gray does not have any real college coaching experience. That is true. It is also true that lack of college coaching experience did not seem to prevent Charlie Weis from getting a head coaching job at Notre Dame in 2005 despite not having coached in college as much more than a graduate assistant at South Carolina in the 1980’s.
Perhaps others will say that he could not recruit at the college level. They might say he has no relationships with any of the high school coaches in Texas. They may or may not be true. The only way to know that for sure is to talk to him about what he would do as a head coach on the college level. Jerry Gray might not be the man for the job at Texas Tech, but doesn’t he at least have the credentials to earn an opportunity to blow Texas Tech away during the interview process?
Kliff Kingsbury is probably the best fit for the job at Texas Tech, just by looking at all the criteria that Kirby Hocutt has outlined to this point. But that is why they have interviews instead of just handing the job to whomever an athletic director thinks looks better on paper. Is Kliff Kingsbury a slam dunk for the Texas Tech job? He absolutely might be and this is not to suggest that Kingsbury is not the best fit.
The NFL has a rule that requires teams to at least consider minority candidates like Jerry Gray for vacant head coaching positions. That does not need to be done every time a college head coaching position is open. However, in this instance there is a respected minority coach from Lubbock who would like to be considered for the Red Raider coaching position. No one is going to call interviewing Jerry Gray an attempt by the Good Ole Boys to get one of their own into that position.
The fact is that there are not very many African American head coaches in big time college football. Even when one is given a shot, it is usually some place where they inherit a bad football team and often never get a fair shake. That is not the situation in Lubbock. No one is going 0-12 in 2013, given the talent on the Texas Tech roster. Whoever the coach is next season, they will win some games. Jerry Gray may not be the best candidate for the job but will it really hurt that much to spend the couple of hours it might take to make sure of that?