LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Texas Tech started its introductory news conference for coach Matt Wells as the Big 12 Conference championship game kicked off on Saturday.
Athletic director Kirby Hocutt used the timing to make a point.
“We expect to be kicking off in Arlington, Texas, at the Big 12 Conference championship football game,” Hocutt said. “We’re not there today, but we’re going to get there, and we’re going to get there together. And we’re going to get there because we’ve got the leader behind me to show us the path.”
Wells is familiar with the tools the explosive Tech offense has and believes the Red Raiders can make a jump quickly from this season’s 5-7 finish. Tech averaged 37.3 points per game in league play despite constant injury issues at quarterback.
“The current talent on the team — this is a reload, not a rebuild,” Wells said. “There’s guys here that can play. These guys deserve the chance to win right now.”
Wells’ coaching career started at Navy from 1997-01. He went to Tulsa (2002-06), New Mexico (2007-08, 2010) and Louisville (2009) before joining Gary Andersen’s staff at Utah State in 2011.
Wells was elevated to head coach at his alma mater in 2013. He had a 44-34 record in six seasons at Utah State. The Aggies are 10-2 this year and headed to their fifth bowl in that span, and Wells was voted Mountain West Conference coach of the year for the second time. He was Utah State’s offensive coordinator in 2012, when the school won a program-best 11 games.
The 45-year-old Wells said the decision to leave Utah State was difficult, but Texas Tech sold him on the chance to do something big.
“It was a tough, and to be honest, a tough and emotional decision for me and a lot of that is because that was my school and I was an alumni there,” he said. “And I knew it would take somewhere special. Somewhere with a vision to where they wanted to go and how they wanted to go.”
Wells replaced Kliff Kingsbury, who was fired after his third consecutive losing season. Kingsbury, a former star quarterback at Texas Tech, was 35-40 overall in six seasons.
University President Lawrence Schovanec said Hocutt did a good job of finding the right person. He said the school was looking for someone with good character, integrity, class and a proven commitment to developing complete young men athletically and academically.
“These standards are the characteristics of all of our athletics programs,” Schovanec said. “They are the qualities that resonate with Texas Tech University, with our culture, and that of all Red Raiders out there. Kirby, I want to thank you and congratulate you for bringing to Texas Tech University a person who meets every one of these expectations.”
Things might not change much at Tech on offense. Utah State ranks third nationally with 47.2 points a game.
The key might be getting Tech to play defense like Utah State. The Aggies have allowed at least 30 points only three times. They have an NCAA-best 18 interceptions, have recovered 10 fumbles and their plus-11 turnover margin is among the best in the country.
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