Matt Wells, along with his top two assistant coaches, will be leaving Utah State.
Multiple news outlets reported Thursday evening that the Aggies' head football coach has agreed to become the new head coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders, and Texas Tech made it official a few hours later. Utah State also announced in a press release that "a national search for USU’s next head coach has already begun."
The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal in Texas reported Wednesday that an agreement was nearing to bring Wells to Texas Tech, and FootballScoop first reported Thursday that it was a done deal.
"Quickly in the interview process, it became clear Matt Wells and his leadership style were a perfect fit to lead our football program," Red Raiders athletic director Kirby Hocutt said in a press release announcing the hire. "We have a great future in store under Coach Wells, and I firmly believe he is the right coach to take us to an elite level. We are thrilled to welcome Coach Wells and his family to Lubbock."
Texas Tech also announced that USU offensive coordinator David Yost and defensive coordinator Keith Patterson will join Wells on the Red Raiders' staff. Yost is a semifinalist for this year's Broyles Award, given to the nation's top assistant coach.
Wells had been mentioned by national observers as a possibility for a number of head-coaching vacancies as the 2018 regular season concluded. He has been the head coach of the Aggies for six seasons and has amassed a 44-34 record, including a 10-2 regular-season mark this year. For his efforts, Wells was named Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year this week.
Utah State finished under .500 each year from 2015 to 2017 after going 19-9 during Wells' first two seasons at the helm.
On Monday, the Red Raiders fired Kliff Kingsbury after six seasons as head coach. Multiple reports have surfaced that he will become the next offensive coordinator at USC after the Trojans fired Tee Martin earlier this week.
"My family and I are excited to join the Red Raider family," Wells said in Texas Tech's press release. "I can't thank Kirby Hocutt, (deputy athletic director) Tony Hernandez and (university president) Dr. (Lawrence) Schovanec enough for this opportunity. I am excited to meet the team and get to work on building an elite program that Red Raider fans will enjoy every Saturday."
Texas Tech has been strong offensively for a number of years, and Utah State finished the 2018 regular season as one of the best offenses in the country. Among other impressive statistics, the Aggies finished third in the country in points per game.
Utah State has also been stout defensively this season. It leads the nation in passes intercepted, and is second in non-offensive touchdowns, defensive touchdowns, turnovers forced and three-and-outs forced.
Wells' team was also second in the country in average margin of victory.
“I would like to thank Matt and his wife Jen for their significant contributions to Utah State University," Aggies athletic director John Hartwell said in a statement. "Matt and his staff did an outstanding job of making Aggie football one of the best programs in the West. This is a special place and I am as excited as ever about our bright future.
Wells, a native of Sallisaw, Oklahoma, about seven hours from of Lubbock, played quarterback for the Aggies from 1993-96 and then was an assistant coach in various capacities on the offensive side of the ball at Navy, Tulsa, New Mexico (twice) and Louisville before returning to Utah State as an assistant prior to the 2011 season.
After Gary Andersen left Logan to become head coach at Wisconsin for the 2013 season, Wells was elevated to the post. He was named MWC Coach of the Year in his first season.58 comments on this story
Wells will be aiming to bring success back to Texas Tech. The Red Raiders haven't had a winning season overall since going 7-6 in 2015, and haven't had a winning conference record since 2009, the final year BYU alum Mike Leach was at the helm of the program.
As for the Aggies' opening, Hartwell called it "an extremely attractive job and we have already had tremendous interest from some very good football coaches and some very good people."
Noting the talent on the roster that will be returning next season, Hartwell said, "We will move as quickly and efficiently as we can with this search, but at the end of the day, we want to make sure we have the right person to build upon our success."