Matt Wells coached his son’s youth baseball team. Then Brent Venables made a phone call

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 Venables’ freshman staff at Oklahoma?

It was a tough decision for Wells, who was enjoying family time for the first time in years. Every spring, the longtime coach would spend time focusing on football practices. After being fired as head coach at Texas Tech, the Sallisaw native was spending time with his son’s team from the first base coaching box.

“When he was released he reached out and stayed in touch. At some point after I arrived here in January, he reached out and talked about what a potential role might look like and how we could use his experience and wisdom,” Venables said this week. “He came with great humility, a deep knowledge of the conference. Here’s a little who everyone is. There’s a lot of things he brings from an experience perspective that you can always tap into those things.

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On Saturday, Wells will return to Lubbock when the Sooners take on the Red Raiders. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. at Jones AT&T Stadium.

Wells was not made available by the school for interviews this week.

Wells served as Texas Tech’s head coach for three seasons before being let go midway through the 2021 campaign with a 5-3 record and a heartbreaking 25-24 loss to Kansas State that left him a win over bowl eligibility. Wells, the program’s third coach in 11 years, was reportedly paid nearly $7 million by the Big 12 school.

Wells works in Norman away from his family. Being away from home can be difficult.

“I know it’s been hard on him because he has girls in high school and college who aren’t here with him,” Venables said. “We try to help him as much as possible so he can try to do both because it’s not an easy thing 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 at Norman was during the spring football game. Venables told Wells to go coach his son, but the new OU analyst stayed in town to help.

Wells’ familiarity with the league and Venables made him an asset. He coached for three years against conference foes and has built a strong 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 was a great addition. He did a great job in that supporting role for our attacking staff. He oversees all the support staff guys in the offensive room,” Venables said. “As we do with all offensive and defensive support staffs, they have a lot of things to do every day that help us prepare for today and always be a week ahead from a team perspective. efficiency. He did a terrific job.

Wells will coach against several 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 joining Duke, another ACC school, in 2002. He also served as Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator (2013-17), then joined the North Carolina State conference foe for one season.

Is it difficult to face players you know?

“Well, there’s a lot of familiarity. Sometimes what gets lost in this business is relationships. Relationships with coaches and their players and coaches between coaches,” Roof said. “It’s a big part of why we do what we do. A huge part. Yes, you go through it, but you want to win.

Linebacker Kobie McKinzie hails from Lubbock and had a strong relationship with Wells at Texas Tech. Seeing him sidelined at OU in his freshman year was huge.

“I’ve known Coach Wells since I was 15-16 years old. Being here with him, he’s helped me a lot to keep my mind in my mind,” McKinzie said. “He’s like ‘you’ll learn. You haven’t gotten out of it yet. It’s great to have Coach Wells here.

No matter what Wells’ future holds, quarterback Dillon Gabriel will always be remembered as the offensive analyst.

“Just positive energy, positive juice. He’s very hungry. He’s a great man. Having those kind of people in the building, feeds everything. You need that positive energy and that hunger” , Gabriel said.

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