Four Texas Tech players were arrested over the weekend in Lubbock. Although the charges aren’t serious — a combination of criminal mischief and disorderly conduct — it leaves coach Kliff Kingsbury with difficult decisions.
All four arrested players project to be major contributors in 2018. Wide receiver Quan Shorts and defensive back Desmon Smith are starters. Linebacker Christian Taylor played in all 13 games last season as a reserve.
The biggest concern is quarterback Jett Duffey. He was one of the two arrested for criminal mischief, reportedly for damaged property, per the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Unfortunately, this isn’t his first offense.
Duffey was suspended from Texas Tech for spring and summer 2017 after being found responsible for two counts of sexual misconduct by the university’s Title IX system. The incidents occurred on April 16, 2016.
Ultimately, a grand jury decided that there was not enough evidence to prosecute Duffey in criminal court. Title IX and criminal proceedings require different burdens of proof. Kingsbury told the Avalanche-Journal in April 2017 that he was fully comfortable with Duffey rejoining the team.
But now, Duffey has put himself under a spotlight again. The charges aren’t particularly egregious, but it’s hard not to look at this situation through the lens of his previous alleged transgressions.
Duffey is a talented quarterback. While at Lake Ridge High School in Mansfield, Texas, he notched 4,444 yards and 48 touchdowns while leading his team to the state title game. For his performance, Duffey was selected as the Wells Fargo Mr. Texas Football winner, and claimed several other state and national honors.
Duffey provides a different look than other pure “Air Raid” quarterbacks at Texas Tech. His running provides the offense a new dimension. His arrival comes at the perfect time with Kingsbury on the hot seat heading into the 2018 season.
Now that quarterback Nic Shimonek is gone to graduation, Duffey is the favorite to win the starting quarterback job. It places Texas Tech and Kingsbury in an awkward position.
Quarterback is the most important position on a football field, and for good reason. The ball touches a quarterback’s hands every play on offense. Everything an offense does centers around the abilities of its starting quarterback.
Kliff Kingsbury has been strong disciplinarian in past
When Texas Tech faces Ole Miss in September, it would be a surprise not to expect that Duffey will be the starter. But before that happens, Kingsbury must prove to the public that he even deserves to be on the roster.
Kingsbury has typically been historically strong on discipline. Star linebacker Dakota Allen was dismissed from the program after getting into legal trouble in 2016. He was allowed back after rehabilitating his image at a junior college. The Red Raiders have cut several other problematic players, including 4-star wide receiver recruit Bronson Boyd in 2017.
However, Kingsbury hasn’t had issues with his most important position group until Duffey. Patrick Mahomes, Davis Webb and Shimonek were model citizens off the field.
Texas Tech football was virtually silent about Duffey after his first incident. Kingsbury deferred to university policy and declined to comment much further. After another significant incident in the Lubbock community, that’s not enough.
Kingsbury has an obligation to his fan base and university to be forthcoming. Handling the personnel issues internally won’t be enough.
If Duffey is the starter in 2018, fans need to know that Kingsbury held him responsible for his transgressions off the field.
Mishandling this situation will make Kingsbury’s seat even toastier — and it’s already on fire.