He entered as the 2021 season as the coach on the hottest seat in the Big 12. Now, that seat has been burned.
According to multiple reports, Texas Tech has fired head coach Matt Wells following a 25-24 loss to Kansas State. Wells, who was in his third season with the program, went 5-3 on the season and 13-17 all-time.
Offensive coordinator Sonnie Cumbie is expected to take over head coaching duties for the remainder of the season.
The timing feels right following a second half implosion against the Wildcats. The Red Raiders took an early 24-10 lead at halftime before failing to score in the final 30 minutes.
Kansas State QB Skylar Thompson threw for 292 yards and touchdown while running back Deuce Vaughn added two more scores on the ground with his legs. The Red Raiders were 0 of 2 trying to convert on fourth down, leading Tech officials deciding Wells' inability to close out games was too much.
Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt has yet to make a statement of Wells' firing as of this time. Tech will owe Wells roughly $7 million on the remainder of his contract.
In his two full seasons with the team, Wells was unable to bring Tech to a bowl game. He finished 4-8 in 2019 and 4-6 in 2020.
The attention now turns to who will be the next Red Raiders head coach. Two local names currently are expected to be in the running early with SMU's Sonny Dykes and UTSA's Jeff Traylor.
Dykes, who enters his fourth season as the Mustangs head coach, has SMU trending upwards as a middle-tier program. Behind the play of quarterback Tanner Mordecai, the Mustangs are 7-0 and are tied for first place in the American Athletic Conference.
Dykes is 29-14 all-time with SMU and has led the Mustangs to three consecutive bowl appearances. He served as the wide receivers coach and later offensive coordinator under former head coach Mike Leach from 2000-06.
Traylor, a native of Gilmer, Texas, might be one of the biggest risers in the coaching ranks entering 2021. The Roadrunners finished 7-5 under his direction last season before finding a newfound consistency this fall.
Currently, the No. 21 Roadrunners are 8-0 for the first time in school history. Traylor is 15-5 all-time as a head coach and has Texas recruiting ties during his time at Texas and SMU, plus his time in high school.
Other names Tech could consider former Baylor coach Art Briles, Arkansas offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, Nevada coach Jay Norvell, Fresno State coach Kalen DeBoer, Oklahoma defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, Baylor offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes, and others.
Given their early success both on the field and on the recruiting trail, names of Longhorns assistants Jeff Banks and Kyle Flood could also begin to surface.
Briles, who last coached college football at Baylor, is a graduate of the school and served as Tech's running back coach from 2000-02 before taking over at Houston.
When asked if Briles would be in the running for the position, Hocutt declined to answer on anyone's behalf as of Monday.
Briles was fired in 2015 from Baylor following a well-documented sexual assault scandal against the football program.
"I don't want to speculate on candidates,” Hocutt said. “I don't want to talk about individuals today. I think that would be very divisive and problematic, and not something we'd talk about at this time."
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