NORMAN — Matt Wells was helping coach his son’s baseball team when he got an offer from Brent Venables.
Would the former Texas Tech coach consider an offensive analyst role on the Oklahoma freshman roster of Venables?
It was a tough decision for Wells, who was enjoying family time for the first time in years. Every spring, the old coach devoted time to football practices. After being fired as head coach of Texas Tech, the Sallisaw native enjoyed time with his son’s team from first base.
“When he was released, he reached out and kept in touch. Sometime after I was here in January, he got in touch and discussed a number of things about what a potential role might be or look like and how we might use his experience and wisdom,” Venables said this week. “He came in with great humility, deep knowledge of the conference. Here’s a little bit of who everyone is. There’s a lot he brings from an experiential standpoint that you can always take advantage of.
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On Saturday, Wells returns to Lubbock when the Sooners take on the Red Raiders. Kick-off is at 6:30 p.m. at Jones AT&T Stadium.
Wells had not been made available for interviews by the school this week.
Wells was Texas Tech’s head coach for three seasons before being fired midway through the 2021 campaign with a 5-3 record and a heartbreaking 25-24 loss to Kansas State, giving it one win from bowl eligibility. Wells, the program’s third coach in 11 years, reportedly received nearly $7 million from the Big 12 school.
Wells works in Norman away from his family. Being away from home can be tough.
“I know it’s been hard for him because he has daughters in high school and college who aren’t with him,” Venables said. not easy to do.”
Venables understood the importance of family to Wells, who had never had the opportunity to coach his son Wyatt’s baseball games. Last spring, Wells spent weekends coaching youth baseball games with Venables’ blessing. The only weekend Wells stayed in Norman was during the spring football game. Venables told Wells to start coaching his son, but the new OU analyst stayed in town to help.
Wells’ familiarity with the league and Venables has made him an asset. He has coached against conference foes for three years and has built a solid relationship with Venables since 1999. Luke Wells, Matt’s younger brother and current Tulsa assistant coach, was a student assistant on the OU roster when Venables arrived with Bob Stoops.
Venables described Wells’ duties in 2022.
“He’s been a great addition. He’s done a great job in that support role for our offensive staff. He oversees all the guys on the support staff in the assault room,” said Venables. “As we do with all the offensive and defensive support bars, they have a lot of things they have to do every day to get us ready for today and to always be a week ahead from an efficiency point of view. He’s done a great job.”
Wells will coach against some of his former players.
OU defensive coordinator Ted Roof has coached against former players twice in his long career.
Roof was Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator (1999-2001) before moving to fellow ACC school Duke in 2002. He also served as Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator (2013-2017), then moved to conference foe North Carolina State for a season.
Is it difficult to compete against players you know?
“Well, there’s a lot of fame. What is sometimes lost in this business is relationships. Relationships with coaches and their players and coaches with coaches,” Roof said. “That’s a big part of why we do what we do. A huge portion. Yes, you go through it, but you want to win.”
Linebacker Kobie McKinzie is from Lubbock and had a strong relationship with Wells at Texas Tech. It was great to see him on the sidelines of the OU during his freshman year.
“I have known Coach Wells since I was 15-16 years old. Being here with him has really helped me keep my mind on it,” McKinzie said. “He’s like ‘You’ll learn. You’re not done yet.’ It’s been really good to have Coach Wells here.”
Whatever Wells’ future holds, quarterback Dillon Gabriel will always remember the offensive analyst.
“Just positive energy, positive juice. He’s very hungry. He’s a great man. Having people like that in the building fuels everything. You need that positive energy and hunger,” Gabriel said.