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Candidates at Texas Tech

Kliff Kingsbury is not officially out yet at Texas Tech, but the writing is on the wall in permanent ink at this point. FootballScoop reported Kingsbury would meet with AD Kirby Hocutt late Sunday morning (11 a.m. was the exact time we were told), and right at 11 a.m. the school announced a 2 p.m. local time press conference "regarding the future of the Red Raider football program" and multiple announcements reported Kingsbury's firing.

With Kingsbury on the way out, Texas Tech football is at a crossroads. The Air Raid offense is thriving in football right now: Mike Leach used it go to 10-2 at Washington State, former Texas Tech assistant Lincoln Riley has built an unstoppable offense built on Air Raid principles at Oklahoma, former Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes is lighting the world aflame with the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Cleveland Browns selected an Air Raid quarterback No. 1 in the most recent NFL Draft.

The Air Raid is flourishing everywhere, it seems, except the place where it was popularized.

Given those circumstances, Hocutt has a decision to make.

He could choose to double down on the Air Raid -- a sensible choice given Texas Tech's roster was recruited to run the Air Raid, and the offensive scheme is as central to the program's DNA as the triple option is to the service academies. Should Hocutt follow that path, there are some great candidates available.

Neal Brown, a former Texas Tech assistant under Tommy Tuberville, is 30-8 in his last three seasons at Troy. Seth Littrell, a former Texas Tech assistant under Leach, is 18-8 in his last two seasons at North Texas.

Both coaches are young, bright offensive minds that also have the program-building experience Kingsbury lacked when he was hired as a 33-year-old offensive coordinator six years ago.

However, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's Don Williams reported Sunday that those are not Hocutt's top targets.

Given that, it seems Hocutt could be primed to zig while the rest of football zags. The Texas Tech AD will bring a hand-in-the-dirt expertise to this search that most of his peers lack. He played linebacker at Kansas State in the early 1990s under Bill Snyder, served as the chairman of the College Football Playoff selection committee in 2016-17, and is currently the chairman of the NCAA's recruiting subcommittee. Hocutt's own playing experience could bring two intriguing candidates into play in Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables and Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt. Venables was Hocutt's teammate at K-State, and Leavitt was the pair's position coach. Venables is one of the most accomplished (and highly-paid) coordinators in the country, as it was his arrival that turned Clemson from a solid program into a juggernaut. Leavitt built the football program at South Florida and, after a controversial exit, has rebuilt his career defending multiple Pac-12 attacks at Colorado and Oregon. Other candidates that could surface during the course of the impending Texas Tech search are Utah State head coach MattWells, Memphis head coach Mike NorvellTodd Graham, a former Texas high school football coach who served as the head coach at Rice, Tulsa, Pittsburgh and Arizona State, and LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. Another name that has already surfaced and follows the first track is West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen. Like Brown and Littrell, Holgorsen is a former Tech assistant with a proven track record as a head coach, going 61-40 in eight seasons at West Virginia.

As this search begins to take shape, follow all the latest on The Scoop.