Matt Wells Miserably Fails a ‘Best Thing About Lubbock’ Pop Quiz
Matt Wells was announced as the new head coach of Texas Tech football on November 29th, 2018. As of October 15th, 2021, that's 1,049 days of being associated with the City of Lubbock, Texas Tech University and its football program.
There's been some adversity off the field during that time that Wells' has had to navigate, with shutdowns, restrictions, and Zoom meetings since March 2020.
Still, that left Wells with roughly 456 COVID-19-free days to be in Lubbock. To see the sights, hit the town and learn the history. That's not even taking into account the time since most of the restrictions were lifted in the past eight months. Obviously, Wells isn't taking in an October pumpkin patch on a Saturday afternoon or hitting Charley B's on a Thursday night in September; he's a little busy.
But that doesn't mean he hasn't had the time to engrain himself as a member of the community. The same community in West Texas he claimed to fight for when he was talking about conference realignment this past August, saying it was important for the business, communities and people in West Texas that were going to be affected.
Wells (now) infamously said: "Now, it's personal. It's time for West Texans to wrap our arms around each other and bow up against some adversity... and show the country what West Texas is all about."
It's the press conference answer that spawned a marketing campaign. "Now, It's Personal" has been used to sell tickets since that moment, but the comment fell flat when the Red Raiders went to Austin and got boat-raced 70-35. That's the specific team that Wells was talking about when he wanted to bow up and prove West Texas was great.
Flash forward to Wednesday, October 13th. Wells is 4-2, coming off a second rough Big 12 loss to TCU. The clip below is courtesy of Learfield IMG College, where sideline reporter Chris Level for the Texas Tech football team lobs a softball question from a fan at Matt Wells, asking him, "what's your favorite thing about living in Lubbock?"
Here is Wells' response. The question and answer begin at 13:45:
It's not a bad answer. It's not. Wells just delivered the answer poorly.
First of all, the question completely stumps him. You shouldn't have to rack your brain to think of three things you love about the city where you recruit to. There should be a list of bullet points ingrained into Wells' brain about Lubbock that he can't wait to tell people.
Again, I don't have a problem with the content of Wells' answer, but the hemming and hawing that led to the comments about the great coaches and people that work with his kids didn't give the thoughts much credibility.
Level summed the answer up really well after Wells wrapped up, saying that Lubbock and West Texas are all about the people, and that's a great answer. The road that was taken to get to the answer, however, has rubbed people wrong on social media, where that comment was clipped and posted.
The answer comes on the heels of an article out of The Athletic that had Texas Tech as one of the 15 toughest jobs in college football. The only quote given about why Texas Tech had received votes in the piece was an anonymous one from a Power 5 assistant who said, "impossible to recruit there, so you have to be very unique offensively to make any noise."
I know a lot of people in Lubbock who will immediately take offense to the thought that Lubbock isn't marketable. The facilities at Texas Tech are competitive with other Big 12 programs, and the school is about to get a $40 million dollar upgrade to those. Are Stillwater, Ames and Waco better cities than Lubbock? There's an argument to be had that Lubbock stacks up against those cities.
The question is, could Mike Gundy, Matt Campbell and Dave Aranda points out their favorite things about the cities they coach in? I'd venture to guess they could. If Wells can't tell a group of people what's so great about Lubbock, people who're there and still invested in him as the head coach of the Red Raiders and fans of his, then what's he telling recruits? Is it hard to recruit to the area, or have you just not had coaches who loved being in Lubbock trying to get kids to town?
I think what strikes me as so odd about the whole answer is that beyond pronouncing tortilla as 'tor-til-a' in his introductory press conference, Wells had seemingly bought into the West Texas culture. I see it all the time: 'Man, I love Matt Wells the person, but I don't like Matt Wells the coach.'
Could it be that Wells feels a bit defensive and ostracized by a fanbase who isn't appreciating the 4-2 start? I know I'm doing a bit of reaching here, but there were a lot of fans who never wanted him in Lubbock to begin with. The coaching search process was a strange ride where Athletics Director Kirby Hocutt refused any help and hired the only guy he ever truly looked at.
With other options on the table, Wells felt like a letdown to a chunk of the fanbase. Those fans have only been proven right with a 12-16 record overall, and a 6-15 record in Big 12 play. The fans who were giving Wells the benefit of the doubt are losing more and more patience halfway through Year 3 with brutal losses to two of the three Big 12 opponents you opened with.
The Red Raiders' season is halfway home, and Matt Wells has the opportunity on Saturday to get to 5-2 and beat Kansas for the first time with himself on the sideline after missing last year's contest with COVID-19. I don't think a win over Kansas will buy back any credibility, but a loss would be one of the worst 4-3 starts I can remember.
Even if the Red Raiders win, couldn't Matt Wells find all the things he listed wherever he goes next?