Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury staying focused on current season, not Oklahoma Sooners’ coaching vacancy

TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury deflected a question about his interest in the University of Oklahoma job on Monday morning, a day after a report said the Sooners were targeting him for their vacant head coaching position, when he spoke to reporters on a Zoom call.

“I don’t get into those things,” Kingsbury said. “My sole focus the last couple weeks has been the Chicago Bears and, after watching them on Thanksgiving, it needs to be, because they’re a really good football team and had a big win, and so that’s where my focus has been.”

When asked why he didn’t just deny interest in the Sooners job, Kingsbury responded: “We’re in-season, we’re 9-2, Just not a topic I want to touch on right now.”

On Sunday afternoon, ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter reported that Oklahoma had targeted Kingsbury to replace Lincoln Riley as the Sooners’ next head football coach after Riley left for the head coaching job at Southern California.

Kingsbury said he was in his movie room “all day off the grid” on Sunday when the news broke about Oklahoma’s interest “so it didn’t affect me one bit.” He said he was watching game film and binging “Queen of the South.”

However, Kingsbury said he enjoys coaching in the NFL because of the “professionalism that these guys approach the game with each and every day,” as well as because pro players are “highly motivated, take care of their bodies, study the game. I mean, it inspires you to be a better coach. And step your game up because you better come in that meeting room knowing what you’re talking about with a level of expertise and trust from those guys or you’ll lose them.”

Kingsbury is 9-2 in his third season in Arizona and has the Cardinals sitting atop the NFC West and the entire NFC with the best record in football. Arizona has improved each season under Kingsbury. The Cards were 5-10-1 in Kingsbury’s first season and 8-8 last year.

Under Kingsbury, the Cardinals have become a top-10 offense three years after being the worst offense in the NFL under former coach Steve Wilks.

Kingsbury was hired in 2019 to replace Wilks, who went 3-13 in his lone season as Arizona’s head coach, after going 35-40 in six seasons at Texas Tech. Wilks was fired after the 2018 season.

The Cardinals drafted quarterback Kyler Murray first overall in Kingsbury’s first draft, pairing a quarterback and a coach who have known each other since Murray was 15 years old. On Nov. 17, a few days before Arizona beat the Seattle Seahawks on the road to head into its bye week, Kingsbury said he and Murray are “tied to each other forever” and they “signed up together, and as much as any duo probably in the history of the NFL, the way this thing has played out.”

Murray is eligible for a contract extension after this season, his third, and is expected to command more than Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen did with his extension worth up to $258 million over six years, which he signed in August.

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