The official site made the announcement that Utah State’s Matt Wells would be Texas Tech’s head football coach just slightly before 8:30 last night. Kirby Hocutt held a team meeting at 8:00 p.m. and then a press conference followed suit at around 9:15 p.m. (see below).
Here’s Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt on the hire of Wells:
“Quickly in the interview process, it became clear Matt Wells and his leadership style were a perfect fit to lead our football program,” Hocutt said. “We have a great future in store under Coach Wells, and I firmly believe he is the right coach to take us to an elite level. We are thrilled to welcome Coach Wells and his family to Lubbock.”
And Wells’ comments on being the new head coach:
“My family and I are excited to join the Red Raider family,” Wells said. “I can’t thank Kirby Hocutt, Tony Hernandez and Dr. Schovanec enough for this opportunity. I am excited to meet the team and get to work on building an elite program that Red Raider fans will enjoy every Saturday.”
The Press Conference
Around 9:15 p.m. Kirby Hocutt met with the media to make the announcement that Wells would be Texas Tech’s head coach. Hocutt discussed that Wells has told him that this is not a rebuild, but a reload situation and Hocutt also said that after meeting with Wells, he had the same feeling that he had when he met with Chris Beard and Tim Tadlock.
Hocutt said that he met with three candidates. If I had to guess, it would have been Wells, Jim Leavitt and I’m not sure who the third could have been, possible Brent Venables? Not sure. Regardless, Wells is now your guy.
Hocutt said that he’s increased the salary pool for assistant coaches and I think that’s fantastic.
Hocutt also said that he talked with Alan Bowman and Bowman expressed that he wants to be a great Red Raider and will be at Texas Tech a long time.
Also noted is that Hocutt said that offensive coordinator David Yost and defensive coordinator Keith Patterson will be coming with Wells from Utah State.
The Fan Reaction
The fan reaction as been lukewarm at best. Personally, I somewhat need to dive a little bit more into who and what Wells is as a coach, and an offensive coordinator and philosophy, what the defensive coordinator Keith Patterson brings, what Yost likes to do offensively. We’re getting the entire package of coaches and so there’s a lot to figure out.
It would seem that the two biggest gripes about Wells are his year-to-year record at Utah State, which included two 10-win seasons, a 9 win season, two 6-7 seasons as well as a 3-9 season last year. The other issue has been Utah State’s recruiting, which is currently 2nd in the Mountain West this year, but was 9th in a conference of 12 for 2018, 9th in 2017, 8th in 2016, and 5th in 2015.
The Media Reaction
The strange thing has been the media’s reaction, which has been, well, overflowing with praise for the most part from the media. And I’m not talking about the local media, they typically don’t give opinions about hires and fires, but let’s get to some national folks.
Dave Bartoo is a guy that runs a website called CFBMatrix and he’s also a coaching consultant. He puts together mathematical formulas that determine how a coach performs and also obviously considers whether or not coaching hires were good. Here was his reaction last night and a couple of replies and responses:
Bartoo: Wells WAR at USU was phenomenal. Excellent get for @kirbyhocutt. USU led g5 in total team scoring efficiency in 2018.
Jeff Baranzyk: What’s WAR?
Bartoo: Wins above replacement. Baseball terms but understandable one that we’ve been applying to head coaches OC’s and DC’s
Jeff Baranzyk: Ok cool. TTU fans not happy with this but I am. They just don’t know since he’s not a flashy hire.
Bartoo: The last fire was as flashy as it gets and where did that get you? Hey look I love it and I got the numbers most of which nobody’s ever even heard of to back it up. Was in our top-tier report to Arizona last year
SB Nation’s Bill Connelly also puts toether his own metrics that determine how a team should be ranked (he has Utah State as the 22nd best team in the nation according to S&P+) and was asked about the hire:
Connelly: I’ll answer a question with a question: why in the hell are Tech fans so PESSIMISTIC? Missed a bowl once in 6 years (in a year with 4 1-score losses), two 10-win seasons at *Utah State*…
Kyle Siddoway: On the other hand…he inherited a great team from Anderson…was not good for 3 years…then won a bunch of games against terrible teams this year because his OC was awesome.
Connelly: a) Dave Aranda went with Andersen, but Wells has still fielded a top-50 D (per S&P+) every year at USU.
b) The awesome OC is a guy *he hired*.
c) They obliterated a bunch of teams with budgets either the same or bigger than theirs. They get credit for that.
Kyle Siddoway: We will see. Just saying I can understand the skepticism of the hire, that’s all.
Connelly: Sure. A lot of hires fail, and Wells certainly could. But we’ve seen a lot of lazy and/or hard to defend hires of late, and this is most certainly not one of them.
The Chad: Was 44-34 and Utah State. Hmm…Interesting
Russo: One very bad season.
Here’s how I look at it:
If he has that record over 6 years (two 10-win seasons and a 9-win season) at TTech they should be pretty happy.
He outperformed what USU has been for pretty much the last 40 years.
I’d say it’s a solid hire, but ya never know
The Athletic’s Max Olson on the hire:
Bryan Surratt: What are your thoug[h]ts on this?
Olson: Matt Wells is a great guy and did an impressive job at Utah State. The hire makes a lot of sense. Hope Tech fans who wanted Leach/others will give him a chance and some patience.
And this is just an aside as I was going through some of Olson’s twitter replies from that tweet, but Brieden Fehoko’s mom, Linda Lee Fehoko had this to say:
Yes he sure is!So happy TTU hired him. He definitely will bring a new look, a new feel and he will also love Lubbock.Great Hire.Congrats Coach Welly!
The Holgorson Non-Meeting
Word broke yesterday that a meeting was arranged between West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen and Kirby Hocutt through the Double Eagle investors, Cody Campbell and John Sellers. This was reported by enough people that I think we can presume that it’s true and if it is true, then we somewhat have to consider why that happened.
On one hand, there’s a lot of variables that we don’t know in how these things work and most of these decisions aren’t made in a vacuum of “just go hire the guy” and there are probably monetary considerations that need to be considered. If the money paid to Holgorsen would have decreased the salary pool for the assistants, would that have been a reason not to hire Holgorsen? If Campbell and Sellers were willing to arrange the meeting with Holgorsen, but Hocutt turned them down, you’d think that the money for the coach and assistant coaches would be there.
What about the idea of Hocutt believing that an absolute clean break was necessary? The Leach and the Holgorsen options were obviously ties to a time when Texas Tech was at its absolute best (or one of it’s best times, I realize there are others). But there’s also this idea that Texas Tech went back to that well, a guy with connections to that era in Kliff Kingsbury and then making that same connection with Holgorsen.
But Hocutt turned that opportunity down and maybe it was just a matter of being able to start fresh. I’m not sure, and I’m not sure that we’ll ever know from Hocutt’s perspective as to why he chose to not look into that option. I caught the tweets of Allan Taylor, who is a beat-writer on the Mountaineers and I think if you wanted to know the reason why Hocutt went completely off script from what most of the boosters wanted, this is it:
Tweets by @CollieronTV by @AJ_DonWilliams claim Dana Holgorsen wanted Texas Tech job but was denied interview. Sources I spoke with believe the TT boosters are fractured between groups who want Dana, Art Briles and Mike Leach — and thus aren’t thrilled with hiring Matt Wells.
In other words, maybe there was maybe so much in-fighting between the boosters who were wanting to dictate the coach, that Hocutt zigged when they zagged. Again, the thing that all of those coaches have in common is a thread to Texas Tech and that thread has now been cut. There is no emotional attachment with Wells and he’s obviously not the boosters’ choice, but when you have people telling you that you need to hire Leach, Briles, and Holgorsen, then maybe forging your own direction is the right one. The thing here is that only time will tell, there are no immediate answers.
Who is Matt Wells?
We’ll get into this a bit more when as we move along in the offseason, but here’s a taste.
Back to Work
Now that the coaching search is over, I hope you all make up the work time that you lost while commenting and reading on Staking The Plains. I appreciate your attendance