Texas Tech HC Rumors: Matt Wells 'The Leader' to Replace Kliff Kingsbury

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2018

Utah State head coach Matt Wells argues a call with the officiating crew during the first half of an NCAA football game against Colorado State, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Fort Collins, Colo. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

Matt Wells led the Utah State Aggies to a 10-2 record this season, and the team earned a spot in the College Football Playoff rankings prior to Saturday's loss to Boise State. His efforts have reportedly earned him consideration at a Big 12 school.

According to Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, a source called Wells "the leader right now" to become the next head coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Texas Tech fired Kliff Kingsbury on Sunday following a 5-7 campaign.

This comes after Williams listed Wells and Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt as the "most likely candidates to replace Kingsbury." His report noted West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables and Memphis head coach Mike Norvell are others being considered.

Williams' report also drew attention because it said Washington State head coach Mike Leach was potentially interested in a return to the school he coached from 2000 through 2009. Multiple donors are expected to push athletic director Kirby Hocutt to make it a reality.

Despite the report, Leach told Joel D. Anderson of ESPN: "They didn't pay me last time. And I'm happy here. They haven't paid me for 2009, and we won nine games that year. And they haven't won nine games since."

There was a dispute about Leach's payment after he was fired in 2009 following an investigation into his treatment of a player with a concussion.

He is right that Texas Tech hasn't won nine games since it fired him. Kingsbury was just 35-40 in six seasons, and the 2018 campaign was the school's third straight losing one. The Red Raiders have fallen behind the likes of Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia, among others, in the Big 12 after being a factor in the conference race multiple times under Leach.

Wells could help turn around the program. He's been with Utah State since 2013, when he was the Mountain West Coach of the Year, and sports a 44-34 record. When the Aggies learn their postseason destination, it will be their fifth bowl game in Wells' six years.

They turned heads with a 25-point defeat of BYU at the beginning of October, and their only two losses came to the Big Ten's Michigan State Spartans (by seven points) and Boise State, which is No. 22 in the College Football Playoff rankings.

Wells is just 45 years old, and Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated deemed him as one of the "names to watch" in the Colorado coaching search as well.