Texas Tech fires Matt Wells after demoralizing loss

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Matt Wells

Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells yells instructions to his team against the Kansas during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Texas Tech fired coach Matt Wells on Monday, two days after the Red Raiders couldn’t hold a two-touchdown halftime lead in a loss at home to Kansas State.

Wells had a shot at his first winning record in his third season with the Red Raiders, but an inability to win Big 12 games plagued him just as it did predecessor Kliff Kingsbury, who also was fired.

The Red Raiders (5-3, 2-3 Big 12) didn’t win consecutive conference games under Wells, who came from Utah State to replace Kingsbury. Texas Tech was 13-17 overall and 7-16 in conference under Wells. Kingsbury was 19-35 in league play in six seasons.

Athletic director Kirby Hocutt announced the move and said offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie would serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Tech visits No. 4 Oklahoma on Saturday.

Hocutt is looking for a coach for the third time since 2013. Hocutt made the latest move after a 25-24 loss to his alma mater, Kansas State, when the Wildcats trailed 14-0 early and 24-10 at halftime before rallying.

Wells’ future was in question after a 4-6 finish in the pandemic-shortened season last year left the Red Raiders at 8-14 in his first two seasons. But Hocutt called a postseason news conference to say Wells would return.

The first sign of trouble for Wells this year was a 70-35 loss at rival Texas in the Big 12 opener, followed two weeks later by a 52-31 loss at home to TCU. That’s the only win in the past five games for the Horned Frogs.

Wells is 57-51 in eight-plus seasons, including a 44-34 mark at Utah State. He was hired at Texas Tech after a 10-2 season with the Aggies.

Kingsbury was hired as offensive coordinator at Southern California after leaving Texas Tech. He never coached for the Trojans, instead going to the NFL as Arizona’s coach. In his third season, the Cardinals are 7-0 for the first time since 1974.

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