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Matt Wells can take Tech back to the Leach days and beyond

I’ve waited a day or two to form an opinion on Wells, and after some more research, I think he’s the right guy for Tech.

NCAA Football: Utah State at Air Force Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Like many of you, when I first heard Matt Wells was the front-runner to earn the Texas Tech head coaching position, I had to google who the hell that even was.

And, knowing that I’d never heard of him made me instinctively have a negative reaction. When there are names like Bob Stoops, Dana Holgorsen and even Mike Leach on the board, it’s disappointing to find out the guy Tech chose has absolutely no name recognition and therefore, most likely, no extensive history of winning.

But I wanted to delay my judgment until I found out more about him. A lot of people made snap decisions based on what they read about him, but have never even heard the guy talk. And while I’m on that subject, why don’t I give you that opportunity now? Here’s Tech’s new football coach, talking last week before his Utah State Aggies took on the Boise State Broncos:

What are some of the first things that jump out at you? Here’s what I noticed:

  • He’s all business.
  • He seems like a likeable guy, someone players can rally around
  • He has a relaxed confidence about him
  • He’ll represent Texas Tech University well

It’s worth noting Utah State ended up losing this game 33-24, but they went up against a really strong Boise State team with a future NFL player at quarterback. The Aggies just didn’t have the personnel to match up with a Power-5 worthy team like the Broncos.

I’ve also heard apprehension about Wells’s record. People who want to react negatively to the hire claim he had three consecutive losing seasons before the 10-win season he put together this year. That’s just false. If you count two bowl appearances as losing seasons, you’re just plain wrong. The Aggies were 6-6 heading into those games, and bowl victories aren’t easy to come by for programs like Utah State. And in those two bowl games, Utah State lost by just two points against 7-5 Akron and six points against New Mexico State. It’s not like the guy was getting smacked around.

Wells earned five bowl bids in six seasons. Kliff Kingsbury earned just three in as many seasons. What Tech needs is consistent winning, and Wells can bring that to Lubbock sooner rather than later.

NCAA Football: Lamar at Texas Tech
With Alan Bowman returning, Tech can compete for a Big 12 championship.
Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

In fact, I don’t see why Wells can’t win nine games next year. Here’s a few things Wells has going for him in his first year:

  • Alan Bowman is likely returning
  • Most of the offensive line is coming back, including stud Jack Anderson
  • He’s bringing offensive coordinator David Yost with him, a highly capable offensive mind
  • Hocutt is giving him a larger budget for assistant coaches
  • His staff will be deeply tied to the state of Texas, so recruiting will be fine
  • Antoine Wesley, T.J. Vasher and Da’Leon Ward should all be back
  • Most of the front seven on defense will be back
  • There’s some solid freshmen coming to campus
  • Tech’s schedule is easier next year

Seriously, look closer at the schedule for Wells’s first season in Lubbock. Three easy wins against Montana State, UTEP and Arizona to open the season. Arizona is an easy win because Khalil Tate is transferring, and they weren’t very good with him at QB to begin with.

Then you’ve got Oklahoma on the road, but you were going to lose that game anyway. Oklahoma State in Lubbock should be a dub, Baylor might be a challenge but I’m still not sold on the Bears, Iowa State will be a close one in Lubbock, and Kansas is an automatic win.

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Arizona
Khalil Tate is transferring, which all but guarantees Texas Tech a 3-0 start to the 2019 season.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

That puts you at 7-1 or 6-2 heading into the last four games of the season. You have West Virginia sans Will Grier on the road, TCU and Kansas State at home, and Texas on the road. At the very least you split those four games, finishing 9-3 or, at worst, 8-4. Depending on what happens with the rest of the conference, you may even have a shot at a Big 12 Conference title.

And, say Wells does lead Tech to a 9-3 season in his first year. Think about what that will do for recruiting. The perception of the program will begin to change, especially if he has a better handle on the defense than Kingsbury did. Now defensive prospects are going to look at Tech in a different light. Offensive talent will always be there, but shoring up the defense side of the ball could turn next year’s 9-win season into three or four more of those, and even, dare I say, a Big 12 championship.

And hey, maybe by the time Wells wins a conference title, the College Football Playoff will have expanded to eight teams and grant automatic bids to conference champions.

It’s all possible. Kirby Hocutt has a lot of faith in Matt Wells. Maybe we should, too.