Nobody in the Big 12 is nearly as bad as Kansas – not even close. However, this does not mean that there will not be other bad teams in the league. For the longest time, Iowa State was that team that would finish just above last place in the conference. Their one for certain conference win was against Kansas, but they would always find a way to pull out one or two more wins along the way. Now the Cyclones are historically good under Head Coach Matt Campbell, meaning that there must be a new team to take their cellar-dweller spot. This team is the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Coming into 2020 the expectations were low for the Red Raiders. Many outlets picked them to finish 9th out of 10th in the conference, just above Kansas – and it appears they are well on their way to finishing in that position. They are currently 1-3, and in the midst of a three-game losing streak. They are also winless in Big 12 play, and have lost seven-straight conference games dating back to 2019. The program has a consistent revolving door at quarterback, and their defense is annually one of the worst in the conference. While the average fan may think new head coach Matt Wells has been the reason for the struggles, the Red Raiders have actually been bad for the better half of the last decade.
The program has had four-straight losing seasons dating back to 2016. In only one of those seasons were they able to make a bowl game, but they would lose to the South Florida Bulls, 38-34, in the Birmingham Bowl. They even wasted the talent of the great Patrick Mahomes II who is well on his way to becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. The Red Raiders program just has not been the same since the departure of Mike Leach all the way back in 2009. For this, they are earning their spot as one of the most overlooked programs in the conference.
Comparing Texas Tech to the old Iowa State, there are a lot of similarities. Both programs occasionally break through and make a bowl game. They also have a lot of talent on the field, but never produce with it. If you were to look up the word “mediocre” in a dictionary, the logo of either one of these teams could be used as the definition. So what is it going to take for Texas Tech to finally break the routine and become relevant again in the Big 12?
The answer is not a simple one, but it begins with finding the right head coach to lead your program. Iowa State struck gold when Matt Campbell left Toledo to take over their program. Hell, here we are five seasons later and he has won against the Oklahoma Sooners twice. Campbell is a terrific coach, and has officially turned the tides at Iowa State and set them up for future success. Texas Tech’s Matt Wells just isn’t this guy.
Even at Utah State his record was mediocre, and he is bringing the same “meh” play with him to Lubbock. He currently sits with a 5-11 record, and it doesn’t appear that it will be getting any better soon. It is a harsh prediction, but sometime in the next year or so Wells will likely be unemployed, and this will be viewed as one of the worst hires in program history. It is then that this athletic department must buckle down and bring the right guy in to lead the Red Raiders. If not, we could see yet another mediocre five to ten year run for this program.
When West Virginia travels to Lubbock this weekend, they will be getting the absolute best from the Red Raiders because everyone within the program knows this. They know that the trajectory of the program likely lies within the four quarters they will have against the Mountaineers. Win, and they may be able to get this thing turned around. Lose, and well, same old, same old.
Texas Tech being good is good for the Big 12, and even as rival fans within the conference, we should be rooting for this team to finally get things turned around. An old Iowa State doesn’t look good on anyone’s resume, and neither does a current Texas Tech.
However, let’s just hope they get things straightened out after the Old Gold and Blue leave Jones AT&T Stadium with a win this Saturday.