Filani: "For me, I wanted to come back but not with the wrong guy"
Texas Tech coach Matt Wells was rolling smoothly in his new job in Lubbock. His staff was in place until Feb. 13 when receivers Jovan Bouknight jumped ship and went northwest to Oregon in the same position.
However, it took Wells about 24 hours, from his recollection, to hire a familiar face – Joel Filani, the former Red Raider wideout from 2003-06 that tallied 2,667 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns through his collegiate- career.
Filani, who worked with offensive coordinator David Yost before at Washington State, isn't too familiar with coach Wells. Filani said his time spent as a graduate assistant at Boise State introduced him to Wells as Boise State is in the Mountain West Conference, the same league as Utah State, Wells' previous stomping grounds.
“For me, I wanted to come back, but not with the wrong guy,” Filani said. “I think coach Wells is going to do a good job here. From the brief time I got to know him before, he seems like a nice guy, a genuine guy who’s going to work hard and love on the kids and do things right."
Filani's time spent away from Lubbock at different schools coaching is something he apologizes for. Lubbock has changed quite a bit from his last visit. One thing that has changed, besides a Torchy's Tacos now being at his disposable (yes, he's excited for that), is the Sports Performance Facility being the newest crown jewel of the Texas Tech facilities.
Filani joked about now being a family man and not re-visiting some of his old hangouts from his time as a student-athlete.
"The new Lubbock," Filani said grinning. "It's probably the same ole Lubbock, but that's a good thing for me. I think, you know, we got to get back to being blue-collar and learning to work again. That's the biggest thing. They really didn't get away from it but – that's how we win over here. Get back to work, get the kids to learn the scheme and go win some games."
Filani mentioned being an alumnus made him keep up with the Red Raiders throughout his career. He learned last year during his time at North Texas about TJ Vasher and a few other weapons he has in disposal. He added the dynamic is different now being their coach but said he expects them to work.
Being authentic and genuine is going to be who he is, Filani suggested. With that being said, Filani went on record to say this group needs to get to peak physical condition.
"We got to get in shape," he said. "We run a lot more than I think they ran before. With a tempo-offense we got to get in shape. But I think it was a good first day. The kids bought into it. The offense, we executed a little bit. We get in better shape then I think we'll be fine."
Wells commented on his hiring of the Red Raider receiving legend. He said Filani's tape of his North Texas receivers was his resume and added that the video evidence and his actions in recruiting "speaks more than a piece of paper."
“So they were interviewing me but we were interviewing each other," Filani said. "Because (Wells) was the right fit, I think it’ll be a good marriage.”