Kliff Kingsbury grew up in New Braunfels, Texas, a city of 60,000 people lying 30 miles north of San Antonio. Growing up in the halcyon days of David Robinson, he naturally became a fan of the NBA's San Antonio Spurs and, growing up the son of a coach, he naturally gravitated toward the Spurs' general manager-turned-head coach, Gregg Popovich.
Now, as a coach himself, he watches Popovich and wonders how he can become college football's version of Pop.
“I watch the Spurs quite a bit, and Coach Pop just fascinates me,” Kingsbury told Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News. “They had some guy named (Patty) Mills who popped up and scored 26 points the other night."
Under Popovich, the Spurs spent the first half of the last decade as a defensive-minded team and a plodding offense centered around Tim Duncan. But as point guard Tony Parker matured, the Spurs' attack became more free-flowing, and now Popovich's team moves the ball better than any in basketball.
As a football coach who prides himself on putting the ball in as many hands as possible, the similarities are obvious.
“Coach Popovich is able to develop things like that all of the time. They just win, and it's incredible. He stays undercover and never gets the love he probably deserves. He doesn't want it. He just wins.”
As for Kingsbury himself? He may not be at the level of an 18-year veteran and four-time champion, but he's miles ahead of where he was at this time last year.
“The biggest thing is you have to find ways to stay consistent,” Kingsbury said. “That was the hardest thing for me last year, especially with the way our season went. I'm trying to do that more this year, make sure the team and the coaches can feel that consistency from me in everything we're doing.”