Stephen A. Smith blasts Cardinals' Kliff Kingsbury: 'How in the hell' is he a coach?

Jeremy Cluff
Arizona Republic
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Stephen A. Smith is evidently still not a fan of Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury.

The ESPN commentator slammed the Arizona Cardinals for hiring the coach last year and he apparently hasn't changed his tune about it.

He questioned whether Kingsbury was the right coach for Kyler Murray's development during a SportsCenter appearance on Monday night.

"Hell yes, I do (have reservations)," Smith said, via 247 Sports. "(Because of) his coach. That's really very, very simple. We know what Kyler Murray can do. He's a dynamic quarterback, even though he's miniature in height. He can run with the football — he ran for about 544 yards last season, he threw for 3,722 yards, he completed 64.4 percent of his passes. We know what he's capable of, based on that alone.

"The problem is he has a head coach, in all due respect, who never deserved a head coaching job in Arizona. I know nothing of Kliff Kingsbury, but I do know something about his resume. Six complete seasons as head coach at Texas Tech. Four losing seasons. His last three years there — losing seasons. Went to three bowl games. Hasn't had a winning season, as a coach, since 2016. That was at Texas Tech, where his overall record was 35-40. Would you mind telling me how in the hell this man ever became a head coach in the National Football League? That's the reality of the situation."

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Murray was the offensive rookie of the year in the NFL last season after throwing for 20 touchdowns and rushing for another four.

The Cardinals went 5-10-1, but finished the season strong, building a lot of hope for the future of the franchise under the quarterback, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft.

Smith, however, questioned if Kingsbury should be in charge of developing Murray.

"So, again, not wishing him anything negative," he said on SportsCenter, via 247Sports. "Not wishing him failure or anything like that. But if there's going to be some reservations about Kyler Murray, it needs to be about the coach coaching him, as opposed to his skill set, because he's a former Heisman Trophy winner. We know he can play. The question is, is he receiving the right coaching?"

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Stephen A. Smith doesn't think that Kliff Kingsbury is the right coach to develop quarterback Kyler Murray with the Arizona Cardinals.

It isn't the first time Smith has been hard on the Cardinals coach.

In January of 2019, Smith criticized the Cardinals' hire of Kingsbury, saying he looked more like a candidate for "The Bachelor" than an NFL coach.

“Was Kingsbury’s team that won the national championship this Monday instead of Dabo Swinney’s," he said in a rant on his radio show. "Was that his team? Am I missing something? I don’t understand … The man didn’t even have a .500 record at Texas Tech. He got an offensive coordinator job at USC, and before he had a chance to take a leak, this brother’s got a head coaching job in the National Football League.

"I mean what the hell is going on ... OK, OK he's photogenic. The ladies will love Mr. Kliff Kingsbury, I mean let's stop the presses right now, the ladies are going to be all over the place drooling over Kliff Kingsbury. He's photogenic. In some people's eyes he looks like a model. I my personal opinion he looks like he belongs on The Bachelor. Here's the problem, he looks like he belongs on the Bachelor more than he belongs on the sidelines as a head coach for a National Football League team. You gotta be kidding me ..."

The rant was accompanied by a tweet: "This DUDE Kliff Kingsbury looks like a better candidate to be on the BACHELOR than a head coach of a football team, DAMNIT!"

That tweet and rant seemed to have incited a feud with the Cardinals.

The Cardinals' Twitter account fired back at Smith with a zinger.

In December of 2018, Smith went on ESPN and said that injured Chargers tight end Hunter Henry, who had been out since May with a torn ACL and was not expected to play, would be a key factor in an upcoming game against the Chiefs.  

The Cardinals obviously hadn't forgot.

"We thought you would be in a good mood since the Chargers activated Hunter Henry this week," the Cardinals tweeted.

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Smith did not think the tweet from the Cardinals was funny.

The feud continued with him responding to the Cardinals' tweet with some heat.

"I don’t care how many mistakes I’ve made in my 25 years in this business, I can assure you it falls short of the moribund product you guys contaminated the state of Arizona with over the previous 4 months...

"You found a scapegoat in your coach, hid the real culprits and now trying to sell everyone on a sub .500 coach who should be on The Bachelor. No matter! Wishing you the best of luck. Certainly not rooting against Mr. Kingsbury. But I WILL be watching!"

In October, Smith again criticized the hiring of Kingsbury and wondered if he was the right fit with Murray.

When asked by ESPN First Take host Molly Qerim if Murray would be better off without Kingsbury, Smith said: "I would take that. And the reason why I would take that is because if I am going to point and we're going to point at Freddie Kitchens, who we all believe in by the way, we think he has a chance to be good. But if we are going to call him out for being a first year head coach, how come we aren't going to call out Kingsbury?

"Here's the reason why I'd say he'd be better off without Kingsbury. He wouldn't have a job in the NFL if it wasn't for Kyler Murray. Because we knew that Kyler Murray was going to be in position, he was going to have the No. 1 overall pick and you liked Kyler Murray. That is why this man has a job to begin with."

The Cardinals were 0-3-1 at that point of the season.

They went 5-7 the rest of the way.

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