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Divide emerges at Texas Tech over Art Briles or Sonny Dykes as next coach | Opinion

·5 min read

According to multiple sources, some powerful people at Texas Tech had agreed to pool their money last December to buy out the remainder of football coach Matt Wells’ contract, as well as that of athletic director Kirby Hocutt.

They wanted to clear a path to bring in Texas Tech alum and former Mike Leach assistant Art Briles.

(As dysfunctional as that sounds, these sorts of plans are not atypical in big-time college sports.)

Any thought of the plan being successfully implemented died when Wells (and Hocutt) hired former TCU offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie to join the coaching staff during the offseason.

Cumbie is a Tech guy, and he’s also a Briles supporter.

With the firing of Wells on Monday, Briles is back in play. As is another Tech guy, SMU’s Sonny Dykes.

Although the NCAA did not penalize Briles, and he has never been charged with anything, the former Baylor coach remains football’s flammable candidate.

Sources said Briles remained a point of discussion among some Tech people back in 2018 after Kliff Kingsbury was fired. It didn’t take.

Briles lives in Horseshoe Bay, hoping that maybe a college ball team in Texas will offer him a job.

On Monday night at a press conference in Lubbock, Hocutt was asked about Briles as a potential candidate.

“I don’t want to speculate on candidates. I don’t want to talk about individuals today,” Hocutt told reporters. “I think that would be very divisive and problematic, and not something we’d talk about at this time.”

Noticeably absent from this answer is the word, “No.”

And the chances of this happening remain low.

Briles to Texas Tech

Hocutt does not want to go there. Many people at Texas Tech don’t want to go there. Most people in general don’t want to go there.

Some very powerful people at Texas Tech, however, still do.

Because Tech needs to win again.

There is a contingent of influential Tech people who would like Briles to be the head coach and his son, Kendal, to be the offensive coordinator. Kendal is currently the offensive coordinator at Arkansas.

These same people also would like Art to bring in his son-in-law, Ole Miss offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby.

Cumbie would likely remain on staff, if he wanted.

For some Texas Tech people, this is a dream scenario. For others, it’s a nightmare.

There is a push for this because there is a belief that Briles is Tech’s best chance of returning the program to the level of success enjoyed by Mike Leach from 2000-2009.

Briles, who served on Leach’s staff from 2000-’02, turned around the University of Houston and Baylor before he was fired in 2016 by BU.

The parties that want him feel if any Power 5 job can deal with the criticism that comes with hiring Briles, it’s Texas Tech.

This is the place that hired former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight.

Lubbock offers geographical advantages; it’s hard to reach, and it’s one of the few Power 5 jobs where a coach can “hide.”

All of this hardly means Briles will be named the next head coach at Texas Tech.

Tech would have to hire a PR firm and let it handle the negative publicity that would come with the announcement.

The name alone conjures the headline, “Rape Scandal At Baylor.” His was the most prominent name at Baylor University when several players were accused of sexual assault.

He has spoken little of it publicly, and chosen not to explain his side of this story. If he says too much, he could potentially violate the terms of his multimillion dollar settlement with Baylor.

Some of his most loyal and staunch supporters have pleaded with him to talk regardless, but he’s remained mostly quiet.

Since Briles was fired, he was a head coach of an American football team in Italy, and served as the head coach at Mount Vernon High School for two years.

Any interested Briles’ party is aided by the NCAA’s recent announcement that the coach was not penalized following its multi-year investigation into Baylor athletics.

Baylor University also issued a letter in 2017 that was signed by its then chief counsel that essentially exonerated the coach from any wrongdoing.

The general public, however, has ruled. Those in a position of hiring coaches don’t want to deal with the discussion, and explanation.

Dykes to Texas Tech

Dykes told reporters on Tuesday that “he’s not going to talk about other jobs.” He avoided a question by the Dallas Morning News if he has been contacted by Texas Tech.

Assume that his agent has.

In his fourth season at SMU, the Mustangs are 7-0 and 24-6 in his last two-plus seasons. He has built a good team, has a good life, and sources said he’d leave SMU.

Those within the SMU athletic department fully expect him to leave after the season.

Between the small crowds and the fact that SMU is not in a Power 5 league gives Tech a shot at making another Dykes a head coach.

Dykes’ father, Spike, was the head coach at Texas Tech from 1986-‘99.

When you fire a coach in the middle of a season, something is wrong.

Not much has been right with Texas Tech football for the last decade.

That’s why there is a push to hire football’s most feared name, and a hope to bring back the son of one of their most cherished names.

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