During his time as a safety at Colorado State, Klint Kubiak was still star-struck enough by the possibility of an NFL playing career to not think too seriously about following in his father's footsteps as a coach.
"I was naive enough as a player to think I would play in the NFL for 15 years," he said Tuesday in a video news conference. "I put all my time and energy into that."
Had that happened, Kubiak would be in the final act of his playing career. Instead, a week before his 34th birthday, he is the Vikings' new offensive coordinator, charged with getting the most out of a quarterback just 18 months his junior and, the team hopes, carrying his father's offense forward.
The Vikings on Tuesday finalized the move that had been expected since the end of the season, promoting Kubiak from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator following Gary Kubiak's retirement last month.
“I believe in the system and the coaches we have. Klint will do a great job leading them and continuing to put our players in position to maximize their skills.”
Outside of a preseason game, this will be the younger Kubiak's first chance to call plays. After two years of working with quarterback Kirk Cousins in Minnesota, Kubiak inherits control of an offense that ranked fourth in the league in yards and 11th in points, with most of the Vikings' coaching staff still intact from last season.
It's about as stable an environment as a first-time play-caller could want; Kubiak's challenge will be to make sure it doesn't become staid.
"I think if we don't evolve, we'll be left in the dust," he said. "That's every team in the NFL, always trying to find ways to evolve your scheme and trying to make yourself less predictable.
"And that goes, this time of year is a heavy self-scout time of year and studying other teams, but certainly we don't want to be rigid. We want to be open to growth just so we can produce on Sunday."
As he did last year when choosing Gary Kubiak to replace Kevin Stefanski as offensive coordinator, coach Mike Zimmer prioritized continuity on offense with Klint Kubiak's promotion.
"I'm happy to keep the consistency of the scheme and the staff on the offensive side of the ball for 2021," Zimmer said in a statement. "I believe in the system and the coaches we have. Klint will do a great job leading them and continuing to put our players in position to maximize their skills."
The tenets of a West Coast scheme Gary Kubiak developed with Mike Shanahan in Denver — wide zone runs and play-action passes with the quarterback under center — don't figure to change much, but Klint Kubiak's tendencies as a play-caller could introduce some different flavors to an offense that ran on second-and-long more than almost any in the league last season.
His relationship with Stefanski, from their time working together with the Vikings in 2013, brought Kubiak to Minnesota in 2019, and his father's advice about working for other coaches in the business introduced him to mentors like Mike Sherman, Kevin Sumlin and Kliff Kingsbury.
Like Stefanski, who had been exposed to a range of different philosophies during his time with the Vikings, Kubiak could draw on his background with other coaches to inject some new elements to the offense.
"The experience was invaluable," he said. "You take so many from all those different voices and try to become your own.
"I've been so fortunate to be around quality coaches and really high-character people that you see you can have success by doing things the right way."
That his promotion comes after his father's retirement is sure to raise questions about whether Kubiak would have earned the job on his own and how he'll do compared to his dad. Those things, he said, are part of "the blessing and curse of being a coach's son."
"The positives have outweighed the negatives," he added. "Being around him and his friends, his coaches my whole life has only brought the best out of me.
"There's always negatives associated with that, but those are out of my control. The positives were learning how to work hard, how to organize your time and how to value everybody around you and use their strengths for the betterment of the team. Just really blessed to be a coach's kid. I'm proud of that."