Some fans are in agreement with this article. Some fans may get triggered by the headline. This needed to be written and I stand by it. I’m here to unify not divide.
My premise is that Matt Wells deserves to be the head coach through at least the end of the 2022 football season. Based upon that premise, an argument follows that the Red Raider fanbase should band together in unified support of our coach and football team. Red Raider basketball fanbase is unified but it shouldn’t take a feeling of betrayal for the football fanbase to get behind this current team.
Without further adieu, here are the top reasons why Matt Wells deserves a minimum of this year and next as the head coach of Texas Tech football and why this team should get full support this season from Red Raider fans.
Matt Wells has changed the culture.
Those close to the football program can attest to this. The overall culture has changed and is continuing to change... for the better, since Wells has been hired. Players are staying after practice to work on individual drills. This is a practice that didn’t exist before. One source tells me that prior to the arrival of Wells, a common slogan was “win or lose, we booze.” Those types of players are no longer a part of the football program, or at least they are a silent minority. That type of attitude is an obvious cancer that spreads quickly when left unchecked. Wells is extremely organized and detail oriented. Things don’t go unchecked.
There are about 12 super seniors on this year’s football team. Evidence of changed culture is the fact there are so many that stayed. With free transfer, if the culture and belief in the head coach wasn’t one that was desirable, these players would have gone somewhere else. Those that are paying attention know this is true.
Matt Wells is only in his third season.
Due to the lack of success of Tech football for over a decade, it’s easy to forget this is only Wells’ third season in Lubbock. He was hired on November 29, 2018 and had to hire his staff and recruit potential players very quickly. Wells worked on retaining as many recruits as he could as well as recruiting current players he inherited. The first year of a new head coach is generally a lost season. Not only that, Wells second season was filled with the unknowns and craziness due to the pandemic.
I’m fully aware that Tech wasn’t the only school that had to deal with the COVID season. One certainly can’t compare Tech with other schools that had established coaches and cultures to lean on. Even when looking at programs that had hired new coaches around the same time Tech hired Wells, the records aren’t necessarily comparable. Tech had zero games canceled due to COVID issues. West Virginia, for example, had their contest with Oklahoma canceled due to COVID. While I’m a believer in any given game any team can win, surely we can agree the most likely scenario had that game been played would have been a Mountaineer loss.
We can certainly play “ifs” and “buts” for different scenarios and come up with different outcomes. At the end of the day, we truly don’t know if Wells is a good coach for Tech or not. While I do support Wells and I believe in him, I can no more prove he’s the right man for Red Raider football than others can prove that he isn’t. I am definitely team “give a coach 4 years.” We have not had enough time to form a valid opinion one way or the other. Matt Wells deserves a fair chance.
Matt Wells has a clear plan.
It’s evident. It’s clear in the players that he’s recruiting. There isn’t a Tight End on the roster shorter than 6’4” with the tallest being Mason Tharp at a towering 6’9”. Tech’s young Wide Receivers that will surely carry the torch going forward are equally impressive. Jerand Bradley stands 6’5”. Trey Cleveland is 6’4”. J.J. Sparkman is also 6’4”.
Wells is mixing the recruitment of skilled high school athletes with big time transfers. The transfer portal is not going away and Wells is using it to maximum efficiency. I can’t name one miss yet. Transfers don’t count in recruiting rankings but they definitely should. People want to point to recruiting rankings and say Tech is failing. Those people aren’t paying attention. Should Wells give a high school kid a chance so he can boost Tech’s recruiting rankings for 2020 or take a bona fide player in Colin Schooler? I challenge you to name one transfer that Wells has brought in that hasn’t made an impact.
Make no mistake. Schooler was definitely recruited. These transfers have allowed Tech to bolster up their core while they work on developing the young players they have recruited. Freshman studs like Behren Morton, Jerand Bradley, Loic Fouonji and Cam’Ron Valdez are waiting in the wings. The average rating of Wells’ recruits are impressively high compared to the history of Tech recruiting. The transfer portal has obviously helped in that regard since Tech can afford to take less high school players. Wells has a plan and so far it’s working.
The football team plays for Matt Wells.
There was a difference in the effort of the football team once Wells arrived. It appeared that the team would quit on games under Kliff Kingsbury. The “win or lose, we booze” attitude referenced in the first point comes to mind. However, even in losses, I don’t think a fan could say the team quit. Teams generally reflect the personality of their head coach. Let me stop here and mention that I don’t think Kingsbury was a quitter. My point is that it appears the weaknesses that Kingbury exhibited seem to be strengths for Coach Wells.
Wells is organized and in control. The players seem to respond to his leadership. Coach Patterson and Wells worked with Jordyn Brooks and convinced him he could be a first round draft pick. Brooks believed in the coaching staff and put in the work to give him the best chance to succeed. To the surprise of many outsiders, Tech had a first round pick on the defensive side of the ball. The last time that happened was in 1983 when Pittsburgh drafted Senior Sack himself, Gabe Rivera with the 21st overall pick.
Wins have escaped Tech and Coach Wells during his first two seasons. Nobody is denying that. Many losses, especially this past season, were by a touchdown or less. Some were due to dumb luck or failed execution by a handful of Tech players and, if we are being honest, others were due to aggressive (or questionable) coaching decisions that did not work. While Wells is in a results based business, something he is well aware of, there is improvement on the field. The players keep “battling” and the keep going. Tech has had some wins because of this effort even when their execution hasn’t been the greatest.
This team has the signs of being a legitimate defensive threat.
Tech has a shot at being a top defense in the Big 12. Yeah, I said it. I won’t go as far as saying THE top defense in the Big 12, but definitely top half. I actually think top three or four defense is attainable. After historically bad defenses in the past decade and seeing the Tech men’s basketball team set defensive records under the guidance of Coach Mark Adams, surely fans can support a team that can hit and tackle the way this team has shown through the first three games.
“But Jimi, we haven’t played anybody. They were cupcakes and SFA almost beat Tech.”
My counter argument is that Houston isn’t a cupcake and they were shut down in the second half. I’ll concede SFA, but it seems Tech didn’t want to show their hand too much to Texas and played it too “vanilla”. That almost came back to bite them but the defense won that game. Surely nobody doubts that. FIU’s talented running back was pretty much shut down. Tech has been able to pretty much take the running game away from it’s opponents. Tech has allowed 77 yards rushing, 32 yards rushing, and 55 yards rushing respectively in it’s first three games so far this season. Bring on Texas! Yeah, I said that too.
Fans are going to appreciate this defense as the season goes along, Mark my words. The #FireWells crowd will grow quieter and quieter. It’s been over a decade since fans can have confidence in the defense of the Tech football team. This is the kind of defense if given to Patrick Mahomes, would have potentially netted the school its first Heisman trophy. Just remember that you heard this from me. I put my name on it. Texas Tech has a legitimate defense.
Obviously, I’m on Team Support Coach Wells. I’m an eternal optimist probably to a fault. I don’t care. I’ve seen the growth of the team and I see the potential. At the end of the day, I don’t know if Wells is the guy or not. I can’t predict the future. I do like what I see so far. However, the man deserves a fair chance to prove it one way or the other. That’s all I’m really asking. Give Coach Wells a fair chance to prove his worth. A shortened season (1st year) and a COVID affected season does not a fair chance make.
The wins need to follow. I know that. Fans definitely know that. Coach Wells knows that. They are coming. Tech is 3-0 so far. The wins have been half ugly, full ugly, and fairly pretty so far. If Tech can beat Texas by even a half point, 4-0 will look beautiful to me. My belief in Coach Wells is not going to guarantee a victory over Texas. Tech could very well get beat in a close game or a blowout. Sports just sometimes happens that way, but it won’t affect my support of the team or Coach Wells.
However, let’s keep hoping. I implore my fellow Red Raider fans to publicly support Coach Wells and his football team. I’m a dreamer but use social media to speak positively about the coach and the players. When someone you love falls down, do you not extend a hand in order to help them up? We all have gripes and complaints but I ask that those conversations be more discreet. Send the Tech administration a well constructed email voicing your displeasure. Negative social media posts affect recruiting more than fans realize. Opposing schools will absolutely use comments about Wells and Red Raiders to negatively recruit against Tech. Just remember that when researching recruiting rankings in the future.
To my #FireWells crowd, at the end of the day, isn’t it growing tiresome being so negative all the time?