Is Matt Wells a Bottom Five Coach in College Football?
Is Matt Wells one of the worst coaches in the Power 5 group of college coaches? I don't think so, but CBSsports.com and 247sports.com certainly do.
A group of writers from both sites ranked every Power 5 head coach and listed Texas Tech's head football coach as the 60th best in the country out of 65 Power 5 teams.
Only Baylor's Dave Aranda was listed below Wells in the Big 12, but Aranda's knock was that he'd only had one season and went 2-7 through a COVID-19 transition. Aranda's 62nd ranking was more of an incomplete than a statement on his worth.
The rest of the coaches ranked worse than Wells are as follows: Shane Beamer at South Carolina, Jedd Fisch at Arizona, Clark Lea at Vanderbilt, Dave Aranda at Baylor and Mike Locksley at Maryland.
Beamer, Fisch and Lea have never been head coaches. Locksley was 2-26 at New Mexico and 5-12 at his current job.
That brings us to Matt Wells. Here's what CBS's Tom Fornelli says about his ranking: "Wells has been heading in the wrong direction. When first hired from Utah State, he debuted at No. 43 in 2019. He dropped eight spots to No. 51 after a 4-8 debut and drops another nine following a 4-6 season. I think that's a bit harsh (I had him at 54) considering you can make a strong argument that Tech improved last season."
Fornelli concedes that Wells is trending downward, but probably doesn't deserve his bottom five landing spot. The article doesn't mention how many voters there are, but it does say that "a panel of college football writers from CBS Sports and 247Sports submit ballots and vote."
The problem with Wells is that he hasn't met expectations at Texas Tech yet, which is compounded when the expectation bar is set at "bowl game." It's not like Michigan, where you're looked at as a failure when finishing ranked and going to a brand name bowl. Texas Tech's football expectations are simple: just go to a bowl game. Spike Dykes got it. Mike Leach did it every season in Lubbock. It's been hit or miss for the team since 2011.
That brings me to another point. Wells holding the 60th ranking doesn't just hint at how he's viewed nationally, it's also a great look at how Texas Tech's entire football program is viewed nationally. The national football writers view Texas Tech at the bottom of the Big 12, and it's becoming more and more obvious by the season. I'd like to argue against that, but at some point, you are what your record, is and Texas Tech hasn't finished with a good record in a while.
The good news? The expectations for Texas Tech are even lower now. (That's good, right?) Any success will be seen as a giant step forward. In my opinion, the Red Raiders have enough returning talent to blow the low bar off the rack. Will Wells be able to steer that talent in the right direction? He hasn't yet, but that doesn't mean he won't.
It took him several seasons to get the team he wanted in Logan, Utah, so why can't we assume that same roster adjustment period is needed in Lubbock, Texas? It's much more fun to be optimistic. Until the end. Then, it hurts.
The rest of the Big 12 is dotted across the 65 coaches fairly evenly. Aranda was at 62 and Wells at 60. Up next was the Longhorns' Steve Sarkisian (no. 47), who has a winning record as a head coach, but hasn't held the job title for several seasons. West Virginia's Neal Brown and Kansas State's Chris Klieman settle in at 41st and 37th, respectively. Both were hired in the same cycle as Wells.
The most shocking part of the list is Lance Liepold of Kansas, who debuts at no. 35 with zero Power 5 experience. He must be getting a huge personal respect bonus for his Buffalo run because Kansas doesn't get him any bump. Side note: Mike Leach was ranked 33rd.
The rest of the Big 12 settles in the top 20 -- Gary Patterson at 19th, Mike Gundy at 15th, Matt Campbell at 9th and Lincoln Riley at 3rd overall.
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