8 potential candidates to be new Texas Tech head coach

Red Raider Nation

(AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech’s head football coach job opened up Monday when the school dismissed Matt Wells eight games into his third season.

Offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie was tapped to be the interim coach for the rest of the 2021 season, but the school has not named a permanent successor.

A source told Red Raider Nation that four names have emerged as potential candidates as Texas Tech begins its search.

Our list below includes the four coaches named, as well as four others to keep an eye out for.

Four names on the early list

SMU Head Coach Sonny Dykes

SMU head coach Sonny Dykes reacts during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Navy, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Annapolis, Md. SMU won 31-24. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Sonny Dykes has turned SMU into one of the top Group-of-Five programs since he took over in 2018. The Mustangs are 7-0 so far in 2021 and are ranked No. 19 in the Associated Press poll. Dykes is the son of Texas Tech legend Spike Dykes and attended Coronado High School. He was Texas Tech’s wide receivers coach from 2000-2006 and was the head coach at Louisiana Tech and Cal before SMU.

UTSA Head Coach Jeff Traylor

UTSA head coach Jeff Traylor talks while standing along the sideline during the second half of the team’s NCAA college football game against Lamar, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Like Dykes, Jeff Traylor catapulted a Texas school into relevancy with an undefeated start to the season. The Roadrunners are 8-0 and sit at No. 23 in the AP’s Top 25. UTSA is Traylor’s first college head coaching job. He was previously an assistant at Texas, SMU and Arkansas. He was also the head coach at Gilmer High School in East Texas for 15 years, where he won three state titles.

Former Baylor Head Coach Art Briles

FILE – In this Dec. 5, 2015, file photo, Baylor coach Art Briles stands in the tunnel before the team’s NCAA college football game against Texas in Waco, Texas. Texas lawmakers are pushing for tougher sexual assault reporting requirements on college campuses in response to the ongoing investigations into Baylor University’s handling of sexual assault allegations involving its football program. The Legislature convenes every other year and is in session for the first time since the Baylor scandal blew up and led to the firing last year of its successful football coach, Art Briles, and the resignation of its president, Ken Starr. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

Art Briles won two Big 12 titles during his eight years at Baylor, but was fired amid a sexual assault scandal at the school. He has not coached in college football since he was fired from Baylor after the 2015 season. He coached at Mount Vernon High School in 2019 and 2020. Briles has ties to Texas Tech — he was the running backs coach from 2000-2002.

Arkansas Offensive Coordinator Kendal Briles

Florida State offensive coordinator Kendal Briles works on the sideline in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Boston College, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes)

Kendal Briles, the son of Art, has helped Arkansas get out to a 5-3 start. Briles has never been a head coach, but has been an offensive coordinator since 2015. In 2015 at Baylor, he was a finalist for the Broyles Award, given to the top assistant in college football. He left Baylor after the 2016 season and served as offensive coordinator at Florida Atlantic, Houston, Florida State and Arkansas since then.

Four other names to look out for

Texas Tech Interim Head Coach Sonny Cumbie

Sonny Cumbie has the rest of the 2021 season to prove he’s the man for the job, starting with a test at No. 4 Oklahoma on Saturday. Cumbie is in his first season as Texas Tech’s offensive coordinator after holding the same position at TCU from 2014-2020. Cumbie played quarterback at Texas Tech from 2002-2004 and worked there as a coach from 2009-2013. He has never been a head coach at the college level.

USC Offensive Coordinator Graham Harrell

Graham Harrell is relatively green as a coach but has ties to Texas Tech. He had a record-setting career as Texas Tech’s starting quarterback from 2006-2008. After a brief professional career, he went into coaching in 2014 and has quickly ascended up the ranks. He was the offensive coordinator at North Texas from 2016-2018 and held the same position at USC starting in 2019.

Stephen F. Austin Head Coach Colby Carthel

Texas Tech fans saw Colby Carthel’s Lumberjacks nearly upset the Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium in Week 2 of this season. Carthel is a West Texas native; he was born in Floydada and went to high school in Friona. He’s in his third season at Stephen F. Austin, where his teams have posted a 12-16 record. Before taking that job, he won the 2017 Division II National Championship at Texas A&M Commerce.

LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron

Orgeron is certainly the most out-of-the-box name on this list and has not been tied to Texas Tech in any way. But he’s just two years removed from a national title at LSU and will be on the market after this season — he and LSU agreed to part ways after the year. He has a 49-18 record at LSU since taking over during the 2016 season and was previously the head coach at Ole Miss.

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