It is becoming clear that Jeff Traylor, currently the head coach at UTSA, is one of, if not the, leading candidate to replace Matt Wells as Texas Tech football head coach. In fact, you can’t avoid all of the stories online and mentions on social media that are linking him to the Red Raiders.
Of course, he was asked about potential interest in the Texas Tech job at his media availability this week and as expected, he gave a rather non-committal answer.
"“Those kids (his football team at UTSA) all understand with my Texas connections, any Texas job that ever comes open, my name is probably going to be involved in it,” he said “We’re way in front of this deal. My kids know I’m very committed to this place. I’m very excited about the future of our place.” (Text from a Tweet by Greg Luca, who covers UTSA for the San Antonio Express-News.)"
It is also being reported that current SMU head coach Sonny Dykes is also a strong candidate for the job. But the buzz around his name is nowhere near as strong online as is the buzz surrounding Traylor.
In fact, according to Hunter Smith of KXII news in Sherman, Texas, Tech officials reached out to gauge Traylor’s interest even before Wells was fired. Smith Tweeted that Tech contacted Traylor over the weekend and that the job is essentially Traylor’s to accept or refuse.
So let’s get to know the likely frontrunner for the Texas Tech head coach position. And we will start by taking a look at his roots.
Traylor is a Texas high school football legend
One intriguing aspect of Traylor’s career is that he paid his dues at the high school football level before jumping to the college ranks. In fact, he was so successful at the prep level that he has a stadium named after him in Gilmer, Texas.
Head coach of the Gilmer Buckeyes for 15 years, Traylor amassed a remarkable 175-26 record and won three state titles. Therefore, in 2014, Gilmer renamed their stadium Jeff Traylor Stadium.
Why is that important to his college coaching efforts? Because it opens tons of doors for Traylor on the recruiting trail.
A four-time Texas High School Coach of the Year, Traylor has more than enough street cred with high school coaches around the state of Texas. That should result in Traylor getting the benefit of the doubt from high school programs around the state and the head coaches of those programs will probably be more likely to steer their college prospects towards a coach they admire and trust.
One of the failings of the Matt Wells coaching staff is that almost none of them had strong ties to Texas high school football when they arrived. Rather than focusing on hiring assistants with connections that could open doors in high schools across the state, Wells hired men with tons of assistant coaching experience at the collegiate level.
The theory was that those coaches would be better developers of talent and would be able to get the most out of the players Wells brought to Lubbock. But the problem was that the caliber of player that Tech landed during the Wells era was usually not good enough.
Thus, Texas Tech is likely going to look for a coach who already has open doors waiting for him in high schools across the state. Traylor certainly fits that bill as he was one of the most successful Texas high school coaches of the last two decades.