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Texas Tech fires football coach Matt Wells in middle of his third season

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Texas Tech dismissed football coach Matt Wells on Monday, two days after the team's disappointing home loss to Kansas State, two persons with knowledge of the development told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

The persons requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.

Both people said offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie will be appointed interim head coach and the search for Wells' replacement will begin with some successful college coaches within the state as targets.

Texas Tech athletics director Kirby Hocutt and senior associate athletics director Robert Giovannetti did not answer calls from Avalanche Journal Media or immediately respond to text messages. Hocutt was expected to announce the coaching change and next steps later Monday, which is Texas Tech football players' once-a-week off day as mandated by NCAA rule.

Texas Tech coach Matt Wells argues a call with head linesman Matt Burks during the first half of the team's game against Stephan F. Austin.
Texas Tech coach Matt Wells argues a call with head linesman Matt Burks during the first half of the team's game against Stephan F. Austin.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram was first to report Wells' dismissal and Cumbie's promotion to the job in the interim.

Since Wells took over going into the 2019 season, the Red Raiders are 13-17 and 7-16 in Big 12 games. Many Tech fans were opposed to Wells' hire from the beginning, and discontent grew as the Red Raiders went 4-8 in 2019 and 4-6 in 2020.

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Although Texas Tech is 5-3 and one win from bowl-eligibility this season, the Red Raiders needed a late defensive stand to squeeze past FCS opponent Stephen F. Austin and suffered blowout losses at Texas and at home against TCU.

Then on Saturday, after leading 14-0 early and 24-10 at halftime, Tech fell flat in the second half and suffered a 25-24 loss to Kansas State, which came in with an eight-game losing streak in the Big 12. The Wildcats' game-winning drive was kept alive by a penalty that carries an automatic first down in a third-and-34 situation.

The final four games of the season all come against ranked opponents Oklahoma, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Baylor.

Wells was in the third year of a six-year contract. To fire him without cause, Texas Tech would be obligated to pay Wells 70 percent of the amount remaining in his contract, meaning his buyout is nearly $7.4 million. That figure would be offset by any subsequent employment income that Wells has during the remaining term of the agreement, which had been set to run through Dec. 31, 2024.

As for where Texas Tech turns for its next coach, a search could begin within the state. SMU, under former Red Raiders assistant Sonny Dykes, is 7-0 this season and ranked No. 16 this week in USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll. Dykes is the son of former Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes.

Texas-San Antonio, coached by Jeff Traylor, is 8-0 and ranked No. 22.

Contributing: Steve Berkowitz, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Texas Tech fires Matt Wells midway through third season