For the second straight season, Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury enters the final game of the regular season with rumors circulating that his time at the helm of the Red Raiders' football program might be ending.
A year ago, on Thanksgiving weekend, Kingsbury led Texas Tech to a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback against Texas, defeating the Longhorns in Austin, 27-23. With that win, the Red Raiders improved to 6-6 and earned an invitation to the Birmingham Bowl.
Now, once again, Texas Tech goes into the 12th game of the season with a 5-6 mark. To go bowling the Red Raiders need a win over Baylor, which also can become bowl-eligible with a victory, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday. The big difference between the Red Raider and Bears is that Baylor, which went 1-11 in 2017, has shown improvement this season.
Under Kingsbury, Texas Tech continues to hover around six wins.
Even worse for the Red Raiders coach is that his teams have tended to fade in late October and November.
Kingsbury, in his six seasons at his alma mater, has a record of 22-13 through the first seven games of the season. But after that, the record slips to 8-19, including bowl games.
It's much the same in this campaign as the Red Raiders have lost four straight since defeating Kansas to get to 5-2 on the season.
"This time of year, you can come up with all sorts of scenarios," Kingsbury said on Tuesday in his weekly press conference. "But the bottom line is we haven't got it done in those games. There's no excuse to be made. You've just got to find a way with the players you have and the team you have, it's a good enough team to win those games."
The Red Raiders hit a low point in this campaign on Saturday as they dropped their fourth straight by losing on the road against a struggling Kansas State program. The Wildcats controlled the momentum for the entire second half and held Texas Tech's offense to 181 total yards on the way to a 21-6 victory.
That kind of power outage in a game the Red Raiders desperately needed to win might have been more than Texas Tech fans can stand.
Kingsbury has one year left on his contract, so Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt, who has firmly supported Kingsbury for years, has to make a decision whether or not his coach is showing enough progress to keep him.