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Firing Kliff Kingsbury would cost Texas Tech something like $5 million

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The exact amount would depend on the time of his firing.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Texas Tech Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

If Texas Tech fires head football coach Kliff Kingsbury during the 2018 season, the Red Raiders will owe him about $5 million. The precise total would depend on the date of Kingsbury’s firing, because of the language in his contract with the school.

After an offseason full of hope that the Red Raiders’ defense could be pretty good in 2018, the team gave up 47 points in a loss to Ole Miss in Week 1. (Those points included a 94-yard kickoff return, but still.) Pressure is likely to ratchet up on Kingsbury.

Under a contract extension Kingsbury signed in 2014, his buyout if the university fires him for standard job performance issues is equal to 75 percent of his remaining money for 2018 and 50 percent of the money on his contract for 2019 and 2020.

Between base salary and rights fees, Kingsbury’s contract is for $3.7 million in 2018, $3.9 million in 2019, and $4.1 million in 2020. Buying out the last two years would cost the school $4 million — half of the $8 million in combined dollars due to him for those years.

A firing at the end of September would cost about $694,000 for 2018 — making for a total buyout in the neighborhood of $4.7 million. A firing right after the season would cost a few hundred thousand dollars less, though Kingsbury’s contract years run through the end of the calendar year. He’d be owed some money just for the last few weeks of 2018.

The total there, whatever it is, doesn’t include the cost of buying out any of Kingsbury’s assistants. They’d have their own potentially pricy buyouts.

Kingsbury’s seat has been varying degrees of hot for a while.

A former Texas Tech quarterback who put up huge numbers under Mike Leach in the early 2000s, Kingsbury took over the program before 2013. His first year was good enough — an 8-5 season with a Holiday Bowl win, even if that record only matched the mark in Tommy Tuberville’s last year. But things became more difficult after that.

TTU finished sub-.500 three of the next four years and didn’t win more than seven games in any of them. He entered 2018 with a 30-33 record and might well have been fired already if he hadn’t beaten Texas in Austin in the last regular-season game of 2018.

For as long as Kingsbury remains in the job, speculation will stay there with him.