Matt Wells era coming to an end at Texas Tech?


The Matt Wells era of Texas Tech football hit a new low on Saturday in Austin and that’s saying something given that Wells already had a loss to Kansas on his ledger.  But though there is no shame in losing to the Longhorns as there is in losing to the Jayhawks, there is tremendous shame in losing the way Tech did in the 70-35 laugher this afternoon.

In a game that saw Texas never have to punt, the Red Raiders were out-classed, out-played, and out-worked in a contest that was never in doubt for the home team.  And given the context of what this game meant from an overall perspective, it’s easy to see how the embarrassment the program suffered in the state capital surpasses any embarrassment that it has previously endured under Wells’ watch.

This game was supposed to be personal to Wells and his team.  At least that’s what the “Now it’s personal” motto Wells has been touting all season would have us believe.  He coined that phrase shortly after Texas and OU decided to depart the league to make certain his fan base knew that everything that happened this year was important for the overall future of the program.

But it sure didn’t look like Texas Tech took anything personal on Saturday.  The Horns racked up 639 yards of total offense, 336 of those on the ground, while imposing their will on the Red Raiders on both sides of the football.

The simple reality is that this program was supposed to make strides in year No. 3 under Wells but after now playing a third of the schedule, it is tough to see any signs that the Red Raiders are any better this year than they were a season ago or the season before that.

The Texas game was the first conference litmus test of the year for Tech and they failed miserably.  And more important than the mark in the loss column is the fact that this game reaffirmed the inferiority complex that the Red Raider faithful have been experiencing over the past few weeks.

Since Texas decided to head to the SEC along with Oklahoma thus leaving the Big 12 on life support, Tech has had to come to grips with the fact that they are in a different social class than Texas and OU and the only way to change that narrative is to start changing the narrative on the field.   However, the narrative that we saw unfold on Saturday is the same one that keeps unfolding under Wells’ guidance.

Tech came out of the locker room flat and not ready to play for the fourth time this year.  In fact, after falling behind Texas 14-0 after one quarter of play, the Red Raiders have now been outscored 42-14 in the first 15 minutes of games this year.

Tech also looked completely inept on defense throughout the contest.  When finally facing a team that can put up a fight in the trenches, Tech’s defense was manhandled just as it has been against quality teams during the Wells era.

Of course, Tech was also out-coached once again, something that routinely happens to this program under Wells.  Texas seemed to catch the Red Raider defense off guard by going to an up-tempo pace on offense which seemed to keep Tech from being able to line up properly allowing the Horns to do whatever they pleased with the football.

In the end, this game goes on the massive pile of disappointing and embarrassing performances that we’ve had to endure during Wells tenure.  Whether is has been blowout losses to OU and Texas, losses to the likes of Kansas, or nail-biting wins against FCS opponents, Wells’ teams continue to put forth efforts that suggest there is no turnaround on the horizon.

Rather, what seemed like improvements over the course of the first three games turned out to be nothing more than optical illusions as this team was humbled and embarrassed by the first bully it encountered.

It is a make-or-break season, one that will determine if Wells has a future in Lubbock or if a change is needed.  And what makes this season different from the other two that Wels has coached in Lubbock is the fact that there are no more built-in excuses for the third-year head coach and his staff.

Of course, his first season was considered a transition year, one in which he had the excuse that he was trying to instill his culture and install his systems with a roster comprised largely of players from the Kliff Kingsbury era.

Wells simply has to produce a winning season this year or else, he should be shown the door.  This roster is his roster from head to toe.  This program has been under his guidance for three years now and that’s plenty of time for a head coach to show signs of life.

For example, in Mike Leach’s third year, he led Tech to a nine-win season.  Tommy Tuberville won eight games in his third year.  Even Kliff Kingsbury had a winning season in the third year of his tenure going 7-6.

Wells needs to at least get to the seven-win mark this season.  That’s not all that lofty of a goal but it would be a sign of significant progress for a program that has gone five years without a winning season.

But let’s quit making excuses for Matt Wells.  It’s time for him to put up the type of results that Kirby Hocutt promised in Wells’ introductory press conference back in 2018 and if he doesn’t, it’s time that he is held accountable.

The great thing about sports is that there is a definitive outcome at the end of each game and the end of each season.  There’s little left up to interpretation.

That has to be the case this year.  There can be no more spin should Wells falter yet again. Instead, Wells has to finally prove that he’s capable of being the man to turn this ship around or Tech has to let someone else try.  But whatever happens in 2021, the era of excuses for Matt Wells has to be over.

Now, it is fair to wonder just how long the Wells era will last.  If what we saw on Saturday is any indication, the end is closer than we might have imagined.

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