After his team’s abysmal showing against Houston Baptist on Saturday, Matt Wells is in danger of completely losing the support of the Texas Tech fan base.
Texas Tech head football coach Matt Wells’ very first remarks in his postgame press conference following his team’s 35-33 victory over Houston Baptist of the FCS drove enraged many fans.
“1-0,” he said. “Exactly where we wanted to be.”
What? Exactly where you wanted to be? Give us a break. That 1-0 record is as remarkable as is beating a legless man in a foot race.
No one wanted to be where the Texas Tech football program is right now. We didn’t want to be here in terms of the way the season began, having to ruminate for two weeks on the fact that the Red Raiders were downright lucky to beat an FCS program that has played football for only seven seasons, and dreading the fact that the next opponent on the schedule is a Texas team that is coming off of a 59-3 win over an actual FBS team…albeit UTEP.
But we also didn’t want to be where we are in terms of the overall state of this football program. We wanted to believe that in year two of the post-Kliff Kingsbury era that there would at least be visible signs of progress towards regaining a state of relevance in the Big 12. However, that’s simply not the case.
In fact, Saturday’s pillow fight against HBU proved to accomplish the opposite and in the process, it did as much as any game in the 13 that Wells has coached to damage his standing with the fan base. Not that Wells was the football version of Chris Beard to begin with but coming into this season, there was still a healthy, although nonvocal, component of the Red Raider populace that supported Wells and had hope that he would be the guy to finally bring this program back from the brink of complete irrelevance the likes of which we haven’t seen on the South Plains since the Jerry Moore era of the 1980s.
That faction had bought into Wells’ message over the last 18 months and had come to like his honest, rural charm. For those fans, the new head coach had started to feel like he was a fit in West Texas. He said all the right things. He was personable with the media. He worked hard on the recruiting trail. He appeared honest in his desire to be a Red Raider.
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But now, any goodwill that Wells’ personality may have garnered him is gone, evaporated into the West Texas air on a night when his team surrendered 600 yards of offense to a program that most fans didn’t know existed before it showed up on the schedule four weeks ago. Is that where Wells wanted to be?
How a man who just watched his football team play the most uninspiring and comical game of his tenure could point to a 1-0 record as a positive is beyond comprehension. Sure, is it better to have won this game than to have lost? I guess.
Some fans (and by “some”, I mean very few) have pointed out that at least Tech isn’t 0-1 after this weekend like Iowa State and Kansas, both of which were double-digit home favorites. But there’s a huge difference in Tech’s 1-0 record and those team’s 0-1 mark and that is the fact that Tech was the only one of the three to face a team from the lower level of the sport.
So while the Red Raiders technically do have a better record than the Cyclones and the Wildcats, does anyone actually believe that a team that had to sweat out a two-point win over an FCS team coming off a 5-win season is in better shape right now than Iowa State, which lost to an 11-win Louisiana team or KSU with lost to an Arkansas State team led by a future NFL wide receiver?
“Might not have looked like we wanted it to look,” Wells admitted. “Credit goes to Houston Baptist. We knew that had a good quarterback and good wideouts. They threw it around. They threw it and caught it well. You know, I’m proud of our guys.”
Proud? You were proud of what you saw from your team on Saturday night Coach Wells? If that is truly the case and not just coach-speak, you might be the only person in Lubbock who wasn’t sitting in the parents and family section of the stands who feels that way.
What happened to the days when coaches around here would call out their teams after such half-hearted performances and bluntly tell us all that his team had been too busy listening to their “fat little girlfriends”?
While Mike Leach’s tact may have been lacking, his sentiment was spot on. Performances the likes of which we saw this weekend against HBU are unacceptable for a Power 5 program and Wells may have hammered that message home in the locker room but he should have done so in front of the media to let the fan base know that he was unwilling to accept such putrid football from his program.
Such admissions from Leach were common and they did wonders for his status among the fans as he let us know when he was upset with his team’s lack of effort. It made us feel as if he was every bit as angry and upset as we were. That’s what Wells should have done on Saturday, even if he had chosen to be more politically correct about it.
Instead, Wells is rapidly losing any semblance of support he has within this fan base. A 4-8 debut season did nothing to sway his detractors over to his side and now a complete bedwetting in his second season debut has even those of us who were willing to give him a fair shot questioning our own sanity for such blind faith in a man who has produced losing seasons in four of the last five years.
Just imagine what those of us who bleed the Scarlet and Black will be saying in two weeks time should the Texas Longhorns roll through the Red Raider secondary as easily as Houston Baptist did on Saturday. And imagine what the majority of the people will be saying after the 2020 season if Wells can’t produce a winning record, a task that looks rather impossible given what transpired against the Huskies.
They won’t be saying that they are exactly where they wanted to be and they won’t be saying they are proud of their guys as Wells inexplicably said after Saturday’s game. Rather, they will be saying that it’s time for a new head coach…if they aren’t already.