Notes on the coach: Matt Wells is in search of culture-shifting win over Texas

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Elise Bressler/Texas Tech Athletics

Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells will be looking to lead his team to its first home victory over the Longhorns in 12 years when the two teams square off in Lubbock on Saturday. 

The Red Raiders’ last home win against the Longhorns was an all-time classic that vaulted them to No. 2 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings with just three weeks remaining in the 2008 season. 

Former head coach Mike Leach departed Lubbock a year after tying the school record of 11 wins during the 2008 campaign. In the decade since, Red Raider head coaches have averaged a measly six wins a season. 

When Texas Tech was in the market for a new head coach after firing Kliff Kingsbury in 2018, finding a leader with an established history of rebuilding programs meddling in mediocrity was at the top of its wish list. 

It’s difficult to think of an available coach who fulfilled that requirement better than Matt Wells. 

Wells, who started at quarterback for Utah State in the 1994 and 1995 seasons, spent the first 13 years of his coaching career training various offensive position groups at Navy, Tulsa, New Mexico and Louisville before he was brought on to be the quarterbacks coach at his alma mater in 2011. 

 

After Utah State promoted Wells to offensive coordinator in 2012, the Aggies won double-digit games for the first time in their 100-year history. This success could be attributed to an offense that scored a staggering 34.9 points per game. The Utah State offense — which powered the Aggies to their first outright conference championship since 1936 — averaged 469.8 yards per game, good for 24th in the nation. 

Despite only having one year of being an offensive coordinator under his belt, Wells became Utah State’s 27th head coach in program history following the departure of head coach Gary Andersen after the 2012 season.  

Wells led the Aggies to unprecedented success throughout his five-year tenure as head coach. Utah State appeared in three bowl games, won nine or more games in a season three times and even ascended to as high as No. 13 in the AP poll in 2018, marking its highest ranking ever.

Prior to Wells being head coach, the Utah State program had only four winning seasons since 1980, with two of those coming in 2011 and 2012 while Wells was on staff. 

Given his history, it makes sense that Texas Tech brought Wells in to oversee a similar turnaround in Lubbock. 

The results weren’t quite there in Wells’ first year as head coach for the Red Raiders in 2019 — Texas Tech finished ninth in the Big 12 at 4–8. But this season, the second-year head coach will finally get an opportunity to run his offense with talented redshirt sophomore quarterback Alan Bowman, whom the Red Raiders lost to injury last year just three games into the season. 

If Wells is aiming to turn around the Texas Tech program in the same way he did at Utah State, there is no doubt he is looking at Saturday’s matchup as an opportunity to grasp a potentially culture-shifting win in Lubbock.