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

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LUBBOCK, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 23: Head coach Matt Wells of the Texas Tech Red Raiders looks on during a timeout huddle during the second half of the college football game against the Kansas State Wildcats on November 23, 2019 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

He was a poor recruiter

One of the promises that Wells made when he was hired was that wearing the Double T on his shirt would open tons of doors in recruiting.  That proved not to be the case as Wells repeatedly produced some of the lowest-rated recruiting classes this program has had in the era of class rankings.

The 2019 class, was just No. 62 nationally and 8th in the Big 12 according to 247Sports.com.  Of course, it’s hard to hold that class against him given that it was his first on the job and he had just weeks as Tech’s head coach before the early signing period in December.  Still that class proved to be a dud as only four of the 19 signees from the high school or JUCO ranks are currently starters on this year’s team.

The 2020 class was a bit stronger but still ranked just 48th nationally and 7th in the Big 12.  And of that group of 22 signees, only six are playing meaningful roles for Tech this season.

Some might give Wells a break for the 2021 class given that it was put together during the COVID-19 pandemic when the NCAA disallowed in-person recruiting for a 15-month period.  But still, the impact of another poor class is going to be felt by this program for years to come.

That group was ranked just 74th nationally and dead last in the conference.  And though it is early, only one of the 12 players that were signed from the high school or JUCO ranks, tight end Mason Tharpe, is playing a role for this year’s team.

And if a 12-player class seems strange, well, remember that Wells made the risky decision to rely more heavily on the transfer portal than the traditional talent acquisition methods and that could handcuff this program moving forward.

Sure, players such as LB Colin Schooler, DB Zech McPhearson, DB Eric Monroe, and others have proven to be solid starters for the Red Raiders over the past three seasons.  But to rely so heavily on players with only one or two years of eligibility remaining rather than trying to identify, recruit, and develop high school talent is likely going to leave Tech with some holes in upcoming seasons.

They say that coaching is mostly about the players you have on your roster.  In other words, you can’t turn a bunch of mules into thoroughbreds.  And Matt Wells did a terrible job of bringing the type of talent to Lubbock that he said he would when he got the job.  That’s one reason why he’s no longer employed.

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