Texas Tech made a surprising decision on Monday, firing third-year head coach Matt Wells. Wells, who took the job after six years at the helm of his alma mater Utah State, was 13-17 (7-16), but does have Texas Tech at 5-3 this season.
The Red Raiders swept non-conference games against Houston, Stephen F. Austin, and FUI before getting routed by Texas, 70-35, to open Big 12 play. They beat West Virginia by three and blew out lowly Kansas, but were blown out by a middling TCU team between those wins, 52-31. A 25-24 loss at home to Kansas State was apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back for Wells’ tenure.
Sonny Cumbie, a long time Big 12 offensive coordinator, takes over the program ahead of Saturday’s game at No. 4 Oklahoma. It’s a huge opportunity for Cumbie, who previously served as the OF at TCU from 2014-20 before returning to his alma mater, Texas Tech, this season.
According to 247Sports’ Jarret Johnson, he could get an opportunity to prove himself over the back half of the season. He reportedly has some internal support. A good showing against Oklahoma would go a very big way, Johnson says.
Texas Tech has announced a change in leadership for the @TexasTechFB program as Sonny Cumbie will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
— Texas Tech Red Raiders (@TechAthletics) October 25, 2021
“Sonny Cumbie has an opportunity,” Johnson said on a recent podcast, per 247Sports. “They’re playing Oklahoma in Norman. You win that game, which sounds impossible right now, but if you do, and anything can happen, that makes national news. That goes a long way in him getting an opportunity I think.
“You still have three games left against three ranked opponents. They have one of the toughest schedules remaining in all of college football, so he’s going to have his hands full there, but if he does win another couple of these games, he makes a pretty strong case for himself. I know there’s some really influential people here in Lubbock that really like Sonnie Cumbie and would like to see him become the next head coach.”
The rest of the season will make or break Cumbie’s candidacy. Elsewhere, two very interesting names that are currently coaching in the Lone Star State could be in the mix: UTSA’s Jeff Traylor and SMU’s Sonny Dykes.
Traylor is a major up-and-comer, with experience at Texas, SMU, and Arkansas. in his second year leading the Roadrunners, he has them out to an 8-0 start. The team went 7-5 last season, reaching the First Responder Bowl. The 53-year old SFA grad got his start in the Texas high school ranks, leading his alma mater Gilmer High School from 2000-14.
Johnson says Texas Tech has reached out to Traylor’s camp:
“I don’t know who exactly it is in each camp, but good sources, multiple very good sources that it’s happened, and that there’s possibly mutual interest between Jeff Traylor and Texas Tech. Timing, because it’s in the season, he’s trying to do something special there at UTSA which is a mouthful in and of itself. So, I like Jeff Traylor. That’s who the first target is.”
Dykes is the more established name, and could help get the team back to a more Mike Leach-ian offensive identity, serving at TTU as Leach’s receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator from 2000-06. He is a Texas Tech grad, and the son of longtime former Red Raiders head coach Spike Dykes, and has significant head coaching experience at Louisiana Tech, Cal, and now SMU.
He was just 19-30 with one bowl appearance at Cal, but has SMU rolling. After a 5-7 record in his first full season in 2018, the Mustangs are 24-6 since, and sit at 7-0 this season.
Johnson thinks Dykes could be in the mix as well, given the success he’s having in Dallas.