Following the Texas Tech football team’s loss to No. 6 Oklahoma, 55-16, social media blew up with angry Red Raider fans demanding that head coach Matt Wells and his staff to be fired.
The Red Raiders started their season with two straight wins, defeating Montana State and University of Texas at El Paso in Lubbock. After the first two games of the season, Tech averaged 41.5 points per game as the defense stepped up, only allowing 5.5 points per game to rank third in the nation in the category, according to Tech Athletics.
As Tech is not typically known for its defense, Red Raider football fans were hopeful for the Wells era.
With a 2-0 overall record, Tech took on its first road test of the season playing Arizona. The Wildcats were the Red Raiders’ first Power Five opponent of the season as well, losing 28-14, according to Tech Athletics. During the game, sophomore starting quarterback Alan Bowman suffered a shoulder injury, which we later found out would sideline him for several games.
After Tech’s first loss, many Red Raider fans were angry that the team lost to a team after showing dominance in its first two games of the season.
The loss was not that big of a loss as the Wildcats’ offense was led by quarterback Khalil Tate. Tate is the same quarterback who was in consideration for winning the Heisman Trophy in 2017, 2018 and this season as well, according to Sports Illustrated. A loss to a team lead by, arguably, one of the best quarterbacks in college football is not that big of a deal, especially with a head coach with two games of coaching experience at Tech.
Before the game against Tech, Tate recorded 499 passing and 122 rushing yards after the Wildcats’ first two games of the season, according to Arizona Athletics. Against Tech, Tate recorded 185 passing yards while leading the team with 145 rushing yards, leading the Wildcats to 28-14 win.
With fans skeptical about the team, the Red Raiders suffered their second loss of the season after getting blown out by No. 6 Oklahoma in Norman 55-16 on Saturday.
Oklahoma was led by arguably one of the frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy this year, Jalen Hurts. In his conference opener, Hurts picked Tech’s defense apart passing for 413 yards and rushing for 77 yards, according to Oklahoma Athletics. Tech’s defense had no answer to Oklahoma’s offense as the Sooners recorded 642 total yards and seven touchdowns.
The Sooners’ defense also shut down the Red Raiders’ offense, only allowing Tech to record 122 passing yards in the Red Raiders’ first game without Bowman and 192 rushing yards, according to Tech Athletics. The Sooners are ranked third in the nation in third-down defense as it showed against Tech, only allowing the Red Raiders to convert on third down once in their 14 attempts.
Following the loss, I saw too many tweets demanding Director of Athletics Kirby Hocutt to fire Wells, followed with comments saying that this was one of the worst hires under Hocutt. This made me question why fans were so angry about the Red Raiders losing to one of the best teams in college football.
Oklahoma made it to the College Football Playoff the last two seasons with back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, according to Oklahoma Athletics.
The loss was not as big of a deal as angry fans are making it to be. I do not think people should be so quick to make a judgment about how good of a coach Wells is after losing to one of the best teams in the nation. This is Wells’ first season at Tech, no one should expect him to go undefeated with players he did not recruit to fit his offensive and defensive schemes.
Before criticizing Wells in his first season as the football head coach, look back at the first season of two of Tech’s best coaches who have broken several program records while with their team’s, men’s basketball’s Chris Beard and baseball’s Tim Tadlock.
Tadlock has coached the Red Raiders to five 45+ win seasons, three Big 12 titles and four College World Series appearances after his first season as Tech’s head coach, according to Tech Athletics. With everything he has achieved at Tech, in Tadlock’s first year as head coach in 2013, the Red Raiders had a losing record with a 26-30 overall record and 9-15 in Big 12 play.
Beard was in the same situation when he first arrived at Tech. In his first season as the basketball team’s leader in 2016-17, the Red Raiders went 18-14 overall and 6-12 in Big 12 play, according to sports-reference.com. Hocutt could have given up on Beard as the Red Raiders did not make the NCAA Tournament following their appearance under Tubby Smith a season before.
Instead of firing Beard, Hocutt trusted the process. Beard then coached the Red Raiders to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, setting program records in each season. In the 2017-18 season, Beard guided the Red Raiders to its first Elite Eight appearance followed by a National Championship game appearance last season.
The point I am trying to make is that Tech fans need to calm down, sit back and trust Wells’ process. Hocutt knows what he is doing when bringing in coaches as he was named the 2018 Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year, according to Tech Athletics.
Wells coached Utah State to five bowl games in his six seasons as head coach, according to sports-reference. I think Wells could find more success with Tech as he gains experience in the Big 12 and once his recruits come in.