Texas Tech football: Why Matt Wells failed as head coach in Lubbock

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Sep 14, 2019; Tucson, AZ, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Matt Wells looks on before the game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The end of the Matt Wells era Texas Tech football arrived rather unexpectedly on Monday.  It wasn’t a surprise that Wells was let go, but the timing of the announcement, on the first day of a game week and with a bye on tap next week caught many unaware.

To say that the Wells experiment was a disaster might be a bit of a stretch but the numbers show that he will go down as one of the worst head coaches in the history of the program.  In fact, his .433 winning percentage is third-worst of any man to ever lead the Red Raiders.  What’s more, it’s second-worst among coaches who have been on the job in Lubbock for more than one season.

Only Jerry Moore, who coached the Red Raiders from 1981-85, had a worse winning percentage over multiple seasons at .309.  And thus, it is natural to compare Wells to Moore because there are some similarities between the two failed former Red Raider coaches.

Both came to Tech after being head coaches at a lower-level program.  Moore was head coach for two seasons at North Texas while Wells, of course, came to town after six years at Utah State.

And what’s interesting is that when each man was hired by Texas Tech, neither had an overwhelming record as a head coach.  Moore was 11-11 at UNT while Wells was just 44-34 at USU and had put forth three losing seasons in his previous four campaigns.

Off the field, there were similarities as well as by all accounts, both men were held in high regard when it came to their character and the way they treated people.  However, that’s not enough to warrant keeping your job as a high-profile head coach in a major conference.

Now, Texas Tech fans are left to wonder just what went wrong during Wells’ tenure.  So let’s take a look at five reasons why Wells was unable to become a success in West Texas.

He’s just not that good of a coach

We have to be brutally honest when assessing Matt Wells.  He simply isn’t that great of a coach.

Coaches need to be elite at some aspect of the game.  They need to be tactical geniuses on one side of the ball like Mike Leach was on offense, they need to be stellar recruiters, or they need to be excellent at managing and motivating people.  Which of those categories would you say Wells was especially adept at?  Exactly.

The reality is that Wells is a below-average college head coach.  His career record is just 57-51.  And when you take away the first two years of his time at Utah State, two years when it was fair to suggest that his success was due to being set up to succeed by his predecessor Gary Andersen, who is credited as the man who turned around one of the worst football programs in the nation, Wells is just 38-42 with only one winning season between 2015 and 2020.

What’s more, Wells has proven incapable of getting his team ready to play on a consistent basis.  Time and again his team came out of the locker room flat and unmotivated.  That was the case three times this year (against Houston, Texas, and TCU) and on six occasions in his brief time in Lubbock, his team fell into a first-quarter hole of 14 points or more.  That’s 20% of the games that he coached with the Texas Tech football program.

Simply put, Wells is not a great head coach.  He’s had only one set of back-to-back winning seasons in his career and he’s never proven capable of actually building a program into a winner.  That’s not the type of coach that Texas Tech needs because life in the Big 12 is daunting for a school like Texas Tech that doesn’t make a living off of top-25 recruiting classes each year.  Dare I say it, Texas Tech needed an “elite” coach to replace Kliff Kingsbury but instead, we got Matt Wells, who is a below-average head coach and who didn’t have what it takes to win at the big boy level of football.

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