Getting fired stinks. But if I were advising Matt Wells on how to handle his midseason dismissal by Texas Tech, I’d tell him to just focus on how the grass will be greener for him, like it is for all the school’s former head football coaches, and anybody who gets to leave Lubbock. Really!
Recent departures from the same job suggest the bromide’s figurative truth. The last two head coaches who left Tech have found soft landings. Look at Kliff Kingsbury, who never won a game he shoulda lost and lost a lotta games he shoulda won, as he posted a 35-40 record in six seasons with the Red Raiders. He parlayed his awesomely good looks and a reputation as a quarterback whisperer into an NFL head coaching job in Arizona, and his Cardinals are now the NFL’s only undefeated team.
The loser before him, Tommy Tuberville, resigned in 2011 after three seasons at Tech, got out of football, and rode Donald Trump’s nutsack to a seat representing Alabama in the U.S. Senate. He traded Lubbock for Washington, D.C., my hometown. Bad for America, absolutely, but good for Tuberville.
But as a Tech alum, I know Lubbock, too, so I have the authority to tell Wells that the grass literally will be greener. I’d remind him that he’s spent the past three years in as brown, flat, and hideous-looking a place as there is on Earth. On my first trip to Lubbock, I thought it looked like a whole lot of nuclear bomb tests had taken place there. I’d never lived anywhere that appeared so unlivable as Lubbock before or since. The most defensible thing Tuberville has said since his Tech firing came in 2017 when he was asked to describe the town: “It looked like Iraq.”
Former Tech QB B.J. Symons, who set an NCAA record for passing yards in a season when he threw for 5,833 in 2003, responded to Tuberville’s verbal abuse by tweeting, “Hey Tommy - If Lubbock was Iraq then you were Saddam Hussein and one evil shitty ass coach.” A solid slam, but notice that Symons never said Tuberville was wrong.
Bashing Lubbock is nothing new. The townspeople have been trying to play defense ever since native son Mac Davis had a Top 10 country hit with “(Lubbock) Texas in the Rear View Mirror,” the hook of which has the protagonist repeatedly mulling how “happiness was Lubbock, Texas in my rearview mirror.”
Nobody who hears Davis’s ditty remembers that at the very end of the song, he decides to return to the city to please his mama. But that’s fiction. Back in the real world, within minutes of landing in Lubbock for her only visit during my years there, my own mama looked around and dubbed it “Buttock.” My mama was always right. Happy trails, Coach Wells.