This Saturday, if the Texas Tech football team beats lowly Kansas, that should have no bearing on Matt Wells’ job status.
Beating a legless man in a race. Dominating a 7-year-old in a game of basketball. Outsmarting an Aggie. Those are all accomplishments akin to beating Kansas in football, which the Texas Tech football team will almost certainly do on Saturday.
But while Tech will probably end the season with a blowout victory over a Jayhawk team that has lost every game this year by double-digits, that should have no bearing on Matt Wells’ job stats. After all, the bar at Texas Tech should be higher than beating the worst team in the nation.
There’s a line of thinking that some (though not too many) may have that suggests that four wins in a 10-game season is a sign of progress for this program. After all, it would technically be a step forward when it comes to winning percentage.
What’s more, those few Wells supporters that remain like to point out that had Tech played a full complement of non-conference games this year, they could have gotten to six wins given that they probably would have been favorited to beat both UTEP and Arizona.
However, we can’t operate in hypotheticals. Rather, the facts should dictate what happens with Wells and Co. and the truth is that in two years, he’s beaten two teams of any quality; Oklahoma State last year and West Virginia this year. That’s it.
In all, Tech’s current head coach has won seven games with the Red Raiders. The combined final season win-loss record of the teams he beat last year was just 25-27 and of those 25 wins, 11 came from FCS opponent Montana State. This year, the combined records of the three teams Tech has beaten is just 8-11, and should this weekend’s game with KU go as expected, Tech’s four wins will have come against teams with a combined record of 8-20 (pending the outcomes of the other games this weekend).
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Thus, Saturday’s game is nothing more than an exhibition. It will be the most unanticipated Texas Tech football games, perhaps in the last 20 years. Therefore, it should have no bearing on what the administration decides to do in regards to the leadership of the football program.
This staff has had its opportunities to prove that it is going to have success in Lubbock and it has repeatedly shot itself in the foot with poor decisions both on and off the field. And spare me the idea that two years is too early to make a change.
No one is asking Matt Wells to have built a Big 12 champion in that time frame. But it isn’t too much to expect some type of tangible progress.
However, the same issues that plagued this program in 2019 remain a thorn in the side of the 2020 team. Tech still can’t manage to win close games over good teams, still has no answer at the QB position, is still recruiting at a level below almost every program in the conference, and has yet to string together back-to-back conference wins under the guidance of the current regime.
There are plenty of examples of college programs admitting mistakes and making a change at the head coaching position after just two years. For instance, in 2019, Florida State fired Willie Taggart in the middle of his second season after he had amassed a 9-12 overall record. That’s a better record than Wells’ 7-14 mark with the Red Raiders.
Also last season, the Arkansas Razorbacks got rid of Chad Morris before the end of his second season after he posted an overall mark of 4-18. This year, Matt Wells’ former employer, Utah State, canned Wells’ mentor Gary Andersen in the middle of his second season after he returned to the program for his second go-round as head coach.
The point is that when it is obvious that change is necessary, you simply have to bite the bullet and do what is best. But the fear is that a win over Kansas on Saturday would give AD Kirby Hocutt enough reason to keep Wells on for at least another year.
However, beating Kansas is the college football version of beating your little sister at arm wrestling. Thus, nothing that happens this Saturday at Jones Stadium should have an impact on the future of Texas Tech football….that is unless the Red Raiders somehow find a way to lose to the worst team in the FBS.