Sonny Dykes

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Sonny Dykes
Sonny Dykes at 2016 Bay Area College Football Media Day.jpg
Dykes at 2016 Bay Area College Football Media Day
Current position
TitleHead coach
Biographical details
Born (1969-11-09) November 9, 1969 (age 51)
Big Spring, Texas
Playing career
1989–1993Texas Tech
Position(s)First baseman
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1994J. J. Pearce HS (TX) (RB)
1995Navarro JC (RB)
1996Navarro JC (PGC/QB)
1997Kentucky (GA/TE)
1998Northeast Louisiana (WR)
1999Kentucky (ST/WR)
2000–2004Texas Tech (WR)
2005–2006Texas Tech (co-OC/WR)
2007–2009Arizona (OC/QB)
2010–2012Louisiana Tech
2017TCU (off. analyst)
1994Monahans HS (TX) (assistant)
Head coaching record
Accomplishments and honors
1 WAC (2011)
WAC Coach of the Year (2011)

Daniel "Sonny" Dykes (born November 9, 1969)[1] is an American football coach and a former college baseball player. He is the head football coach at Southern Methodist University (SMU). Dykes previously served as an offensive analyst for TCU (2017) and as the head football coach at University of California, Berkeley for four seasons (2013–16) and Louisiana Tech University for three seasons (2010–12).

Dykes began his career as a high school baseball and football coach in Texas, then moved up to the junior college and college level as an assistant football coach, including stints with Kentucky, Texas Tech, and Arizona. In 2010, Dykes became a head college football coach for the first time at Louisiana Tech. After a 5–7 record in his first season, Dykes led Louisiana Tech to an 8–5 record in 2011 with a Western Athletic Conference title and followed that with a 9–3 record in 2012. Dykes then became head coach at California in 2013.

After coaching Cal football to its worst season (1–11) in program history in 2013, Dykes improved to 5–7 in 2014 and then to an 8–5 record and Armed Forces Bowl victory in 2015. He finished the 2016 season with 5–7 record, his third losing season in four years at California, culminating in him being fired in January 2017. In 2017, Dykes was hired as head coach at Southern Methodist University. After achieving a 5-7 record in 2018, Dykes coached the Mustangs to a 10-win season in 2019. This marked the program's most wins in a season since 1984.

Early years[edit]

Son of former Texas Tech head coach Spike Dykes, Sonny Dykes graduated from Coronado High School in Lubbock, Texas where he played both football and baseball.[2] He lettered for three years as a first baseman for the Texas Tech baseball team. Dykes earned a bachelor's degree in history from Texas Tech University in 1993 and a master's degree from the University of Kentucky in 1999.

Coaching career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Dykes began his career in the spring of 1994 as an assistant baseball coach at Monahans High School in Monahans, Texas. Later in 1994, Dykes switched to coaching football as the running backs coach for J. J. Pearce High School in Richardson, Texas.

From 1995 to 1996, Dykes coached at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas. In 1995, he coached the running backs as Navarro posted an 8–2 record. In 1996, he served as the quarterbacks and receivers coach and the passing game coordinator as Navarro finished 7–4 while reaching the Texas junior college championship game. At Navarro, Dykes coached Leroy Fields, who led the nation in receiving and was selected in the seventh-round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos.

In 1998, Dykes served as the wide receivers coach at Northeast Louisiana. Under Dykes' guidance, wide receiver Marty Booker broke all of NLU's single-season and career receiving records and was named first-team All-Independent. Booker played in the Blue-Gray and East-West Shrine all-star games and was selected by the Chicago Bears in the third-round of the 1999 NFL Draft.


In 1997, Dykes served as a graduate assistant and tight ends coach at Kentucky under head coach Hal Mumme.

Dykes returned to Kentucky in 1999 to serve on Mumme's staff as wide receivers coach and special teams coordinator. The season highlights were a victory over #20 Arkansas and a trip to the Music City Bowl. At Kentucky, Dykes coached James Whalen who earned consensus All-America honors and set the all-time NCAA Division I record for receptions by a tight end. Whalen was selected in the fifth-round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Dykes also coached wide receiver Quentin McCord who was selected in the seventh-round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. Two of Dykes' players, Derek Smith and Brad Pyatt, signed as undrafted free agents with the Indianapolis Colts in 2002 and 2003, respectively.

Texas Tech[edit]

In 2000, Dykes joined Mike Leach's staff at Texas Tech as the wide receivers coach. Dykes coached wide receiver Carlos Francis who finished his career at Texas Tech with the second-most career touchdowns and third-most career receiving yards, and Francis was selected in the fourth-round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. In addition to Francis, Dykes also coached receivers Wes Welker and Derek Dorris who signed free agent contracts with the San Diego Chargers and New York Giants, respectively. During his tenure as the Texas Tech receivers coach, the Red Raiders participated in a bowl game in each of his five years including the 2000 Bowl, 2001 Alamo Bowl, 2002 Tangerine Bowl, 2003 Houston Bowl, and 2004 Holiday Bowl. Texas Tech finished the 2004 season ranked 17th in the final Coaches Poll, which was the first time the Red Raiders were ranked in a final poll since joining the Big 12 Conference.

After five seasons as the Texas Tech wide receivers coach, Dykes was promoted to co-offensive coordinator alongside Dana Holgorsen in 2005. Texas Tech opened their 2005 season with a 6–0 record, the program's best start since 1998. In 2005, the Red Raiders were trailing Kansas State, 13–10, late in the second quarter but won the game 59–20. Also in 2005, Texas Tech had a halftime lead of 14–10 over Texas A&M. By the end of the game, Texas Tech increased the margin to 56–17. It was the Aggies' worst loss to the Red Raiders in the 64-year-old rivalry.[3] The 2005 season culminated in a trip to the Cotton Bowl Classic and a ranking of 19th in the final Coaches Poll.

In Dykes' second season as co-offensive coordinator, Texas Tech ranked third in passing with 370 passing yards per game and sixth in total offense averaging nearly 450 total yards per game throughout the 2006 season. That season Dykes directed an offense that scored 32 points per game, and two receivers ranked top three in the nation in receptions per game and a third receiver ranked in the top twenty. Dykes helped develop Joel Filani into a two-time first team All-Big 12 honoree and a sixth-round selection in the 2007 NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans. In 2006, receiver Jarrett Hicks caught 13 touchdown passes to set the school's single-season record and signed as a free agent with the San Diego Chargers in 2007. In Dykes last game at Texas Tech, he helped orchestrate the biggest comeback in NCAA Division I-A bowl game history in the 2006 Insight Bowl against Minnesota. With Texas Tech trailing 38–7 in the third quarter, the Red Raiders overcame the 31-point deficit to defeat Minnesota 44–41 in overtime.


Dykes joined Mike Stoops' staff at Arizona as offensive coordinator in 2007. In his first season coaching the Wildcats' offense, Dykes increased Arizona's offensive output by 130 yards per game, and they finished second in the Pac-10 in passing offense with a school-record 308 yards per game. Arizona's pass efficiency rating increased 32 points from 2006 to 2007. In 2007, Arizona set single-season records for passing yards, passing yards per game, completions, touchdown passes and completion percentage, in addition to many single-game records by quarterback Willie Tuitama.

During the 2008 season, Dykes helped lead Arizona to eight victories and the programs first winning year since the 1998 season. Arizona earned their first bowl appearance since 1998 and defeated #16 BYU 31–21 in the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl. In that game, the Wildcats' 31 points were the most in Arizona bowl history. Wide receiver Mike Thomas set the record for the most receptions by any receiver in Pac-10 history. Rob Gronkowski set the school tight end records for single-game, single-season, and career receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Gronkowski was named an Associated Press third-team All-American and All-Pac-10 first-team tight end.

During the 2009 season, Dykes helped lead Arizona to their second consecutive eight-win season and a second place Pac-10 finish, the program's highest since 1998. In the final game of the regular season, Arizona defeated #20 USC 21–17. Arizona finished the regular season ranked #22 in the AP Poll, the Wildcats' first national ranking since the 2000 season. The Wildcats' season culminated with an appearance in the 2009 Holiday Bowl.

Louisiana Tech[edit]

On January 20, 2010, Dykes was hired to replace Derek Dooley as the head football coach of Louisiana Tech.[4][5] In Dykes' first season, LA Tech's record improved to 5–7 overall and 4–4 in the WAC. Despite coaching his team to a losing record, LA Tech's offense improved in several areas of the NCAA statistical ranks including passing offense (91st in 2009 to 62nd in 2010) and total offense (66th to 52nd) while the team's average offensive national rank improved from 65th in 2009 to 54th in 2010.

Despite a 1–4 start in 2011, Louisiana Tech rallied to win seven consecutive games to cap off the regular season with the program's first WAC football title since 2001 and an appearance the Poinsettia Bowl. As a result of LA Tech's success, Dykes was honored as the 2011 WAC Coach of the Year.[6] At the conclusion of the 2011 season, Dykes signed a contract extension to increase his base salary to at least $700,000.[7][8]

In 2012, Louisiana Tech finished with a 9–3 record, the program's best since 1997, but was not invited to a bowl game.[9] Dykes guided the Bulldogs to a 22–15 record over his 3 seasons as head coach.[10]


On December 5, 2012, Dykes was announced as the 33rd head football coach at the University of California, Berkeley.[10][11][12]


Shortly after being named Cal's head coach, Dykes stated that the "most important hire that I make is hiring a defensive coordinator that will come in and get to work from Day 1 and get a defense established."[13] He further stated that his number one job was to "hire the best defensive coordinator I can find in the United States."[13] In one of his first major decisions as head coach, Dykes hired Andy Buh to serve as his defensive coordinator.[14] In Dykes' first season, the California defense surrendered the most passing yards in Division 1 college football history, leading to it becoming the worst defense in the nation.[15] This eventually led to Buh being reassigned to a non-coaching administrative role.[16]

The Golden Bears struggled in Dykes' first season, finishing with a 1–11 record. Dykes' first season marked the first time since Cal began playing football in 1886 that the team failed to defeat a single D-1 FBS opponent in a season that has lasted at least five games.[17] Dykes inherited Jared Goff who was recruited in 2012 by Dykes predecessor Jeff Tedford. Dykes named Jared Goff as the team's starting quarterback,[18] making him the first true freshman quarterback to start a season opener in Cal history.[19] Goff went on to set a new Cal record with 3,508 passing yards and an NCAA record for most completions in a season by a freshman with 330.[20] Cal finished the year losing to arch-rival Stanford by 50 points, the largest margin ever in the 119-year history of the Big Game.[21]


In 2014, California improved to 5–7, jumping out to a 4–1 start, before losing six of their final seven games.[22] Cal averaged 38.3 points per game, second-best in the Pac-12 and 11th-best in FBS,[23] generating a program-record 459 total points for the season.[24] However, the Golden Bears surrendered 367.2 passing yards per game and 42 total passing touchdowns, both ranked last out of 128 FBS teams.[24][25] During a three-game stretch from Week 3 to Week 5, Cal played consecutive high-scoring games that were won or lost in the final seconds. The Bears lost on a Hail Mary pass to Arizona 49–45, then beat Colorado 59–56 in double overtime.[26] The following week, Cal allowed an FBS-record 734 passing yards to Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday, but still won 60–59 when WSU missed a 19-yard field goal with 15 seconds to play.[27]

Dykes' defense struggled even worse in 2014 under the coordination of Art Kaufman (Dykes' third defensive coordinator in as many years), surrendering the most yards in the history of college football.[28]


In 2015, the Golden Bears jumped out to a 5–0 start, their best since 2007.[29] In Week 3, Cal traveled to Austin and defeated the Texas Longhorns 45–44, marking the program's first-ever victory over Texas.[30] The following week, Cal beat the Washington Huskies 30–24, Cal's first victory in Seattle since 2005, snapping a six-game losing streak to Washington.[31]

Cal then went on to lose five of its next six games, including losses to rivals UCLA (by 16 points),[32] USC (6 points),[33] Oregon (16 points),[34] and a 13-point loss to arch-rival Stanford.[35] But in a 54–24 win over the last place Oregon State Beavers, Cal tallied a school-record 760 yards and became bowl-eligible for the first time since 2011.[36] With a 48–46 win over Arizona State on Senior Day, Cal finished the regular season with a 7–5 record, clinching their first winning season since 2011.[37] Nevertheless, Cal finished the season in the bottom half of the Pac-12 standings for the third time in three years under Dykes. After the 2015 season, Jared Goff decided to forego another year at Cal and was drafted by the Rams. Within 3 years, he led to Rams to the 2019 Super Bowl and made history as the youngest quarterback to start in the Super Bowl.


Shortly after the conclusion of the 2015 season, Dykes stated that he did not anticipate any staff turnover.[38] However, offensive coordinator Tony Franklin resigned from his position at California a few weeks after Dykes made this statement. Franklin left to take up the same position at Middle Tennessee State, citing a desire to move closer to his family in Kentucky.[39] Dykes replaced Franklin with Jake Spavital, who had recently been fired by Texas A&M University. Spavital served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2016 before being promoted to interim head coach following Dykes' firing.

Dykes finished the season 5–7, his third losing season in four attempts with the Golden Bears. 2016 marked the first time California beat one of its in-state rivals under Dykes' leadership, defeating a 4–7 UCLA in Berkeley on November 26. Dykes once again lost to Stanford at home by two touchdowns and USC in Los Angeles by three touchdowns. His team also lost to San Diego State of the Mountain West Conference. Though two teams with a 5–7 record were selected for bowl berths in 2016, Dykes' California squad was not selected due to its lower Academic Progress Report score.[40]

Performance in rivalry games[edit]

Dykes has only one win against any of Cal's in-state Pac-12 rivals. Altogether, his teams have lost to UCLA, USC, and Stanford 11 times in the four years that he has coached the Golden Bears. Dykes' teams lost to division rival Oregon in his first three outings before beating the Ducks in 2016.

Contract extension, interviews, and firing[edit]

At the conclusion of the 2015 regular season, Dykes was reported to have interviewed for college football coaching positions at Missouri, Virginia, and South Carolina.[41][42] None of these schools made Dykes an offer to hire him as head coach.[43] Dykes was nevertheless able to negotiate an extension with the University of California.[44] Less than a year after receiving this extension, Dykes interviewed for the head coaching vacancy at Baylor University, but Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades instead decided to hire Matt Rhule.[45][46]

On January 8, 2017, California fired Dykes. Under contract through the 2019 season, Dykes was owed $5.88 million, 70 percent of his remaining base salary and talent fee.[47] Besides his losing record, California Athletic Director Mike Williams has stated that Dykes had never "settled into California, the Bay Area or the Cal experience" as reasons for the firing.[48]


On December 11, 2017, Dykes was hired as head football coach of Southern Methodist University.[49]


In 2018, his first full season as SMU's head coach, Dykes led the Mustangs to a 5-7 season record, including 4-4 in the American Athletic Conference.


In 2019, the SMU season began with six consecutive victories under Dykes. The 6-0 start was capped by a televised night game in Dallas in which the Mustangs defeated Tulsa in a historic comeback victory in 3OT. The team finished with a 10-2 record and an invitation to the Boca Raton Bowl.


The 2020 Mustangs finished the season with a 7-3 record. They were invited to the Frisco Bowl, but declined due to COVID-19 issues in the Mustangs program, so the bowl game was canceled.


Dykes is the son of Spike and Sharon Dykes. His father Spike Dykes was the second all-time winningest football coach in Texas Tech history. His mother Sharon died in 2010 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's disease.[50] Dykes and his wife Kate have two daughters and a son.[49]

Head coaching record[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (Western Athletic Conference) (2010–2012)
2010 Louisiana Tech 5–7 4–4 5th
2011 Louisiana Tech 8–5 6–1 1st L Poinsettia
2012 Louisiana Tech 9–3 4–2 3rd
Louisiana Tech: 22–15 14–7
California Golden Bears (Pac-12 Conference) (2013–2016)
2013 California 1–11 0–9 6th (North)
2014 California 5–7 3–6 4th (North)
2015 California 8–5 4–5 T–4th (North) W Armed Forces
2016 California 5–7 3–6 T–4th (North)
California: 19–30 10–26
SMU Mustangs (American Athletic Conference) (2017–present)
2017 SMU 0–1[note 1] 0–0[note 1] [note 1] L Frisco
2018 SMU 5–7 4–4 4th (West)
2019 SMU 10–3 6–2 3rd (West) L Boca Raton
2020 SMU 7–3 4–3 5th Frisco[note 2]
SMU: 22–14 14–9
Total: 63–59
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


  1. ^ a b c Dykes coached the 2017 Frisco Bowl after head coach Chad Morris resigned with a 7–5 (4–4 The American) record.
  2. ^ The Frisco Bowl was cancelled due to COVID-19 issues and ruled a no contest.[51]


  1. ^ "Daniel "Sonny" Dykes". Texas Tech Red Raiders. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
  2. ^ "The lessons SMU's Sonny Dykes learned from his father, Texas Tech legend Spike". Dallas News. June 14, 2018. Archived from the original on November 29, 2019. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  3. ^ Lewis, Michael (December 4, 2005). "Coach Leach Goes Deep, Very Deep – New York Times". Retrieved October 12, 2010.
  4. ^ "Sonny Dykes Named Head Coach at Louisiana Tech". Louisiana Tech Athletics. January 20, 2010.
  5. ^ Watson, Graham (January 20, 2010). "Dykes takes over at La. Tech".
  6. ^ Adelson, Andrea (December 5, 2011). "Dykes named WAC Coach of the Year".
  7. ^ "Sonny Dykes Agrees to Contract Extension". Louisiana Tech Athletics. December 21, 2011.
  8. ^ "Source: Sonny Dykes receives raise". December 21, 2011.
  9. ^ "Louisiana Tech Not Selected for Bowl Game". Louisiana Tech Athletics. December 2, 2012.
  10. ^ a b Crumpacker, John (December 5, 2012). "Cal picks Louisiana Tech's Dykes as coach". San Francisco Chronicle.
  11. ^ Gorcey, Ryan (December 5, 2012). "Cal hires Sonny Dykes as new head football coach".
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  13. ^ a b "Sonny Dykes Vows to Find Top Defensive Coordinator". Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  14. ^ Mauss, Jeremy. "Andy Buh heading back to Bay Area to be Cal's defensive coordinator".
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  16. ^ Farudo, Jeff. "Sonny Dykes hires new Cal defensive coach, ex-coordinator Andy Buh reassigned". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
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  19. ^ Anderson, Holly (October 7, 2015). "Are the Golden Bears About to Break Through?". Grantland.
  20. ^ Crumpacker, John (November 23, 2013). "Goff sets Cal passing record". San Francisco Chronicle.
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  25. ^ "2014 National Leaders Passing Defense – All Games".
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  27. ^ Vernon, Mike (October 5, 2014). "Missed field goal allows Cal to edge WSU 60–59". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on April 22, 2019.
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  29. ^ Kroichick, Ron (October 3, 2015). "Cal delivers perfect comeback against Washington State". San Francisco Chronicle.
  30. ^ Letourneau, Connor (September 19, 2015). "Cal holds on for wild win at Texas". San Francisco Chronicle.
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  33. ^ "USC vs. California – Game Recap – October 31, 2015 – ESPN". Retrieved February 2, 2018.
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  35. ^ "California vs. Stanford – Game Summary – November 21, 2015 – ESPN". Retrieved February 2, 2018.
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  39. ^ "OC Tony Franklin leaves Cal for Middle Tennessee". Retrieved February 5, 2016.
  40. ^ "College football 2016 bowl eligibility: 75 teams qualify, leaving five open spots". Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  41. ^ "Cal's Sonny Dykes widens job search". Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  42. ^ 815–1781, DAVID MORRISON "Odom hired as Missouri football coach". Retrieved February 2, 2018.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  43. ^ "Virginia hires BYU's Bronco Mendenhall". Associated Press. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  44. ^ "Cal, coach Dykes agree to extension through '19". Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  45. ^ "Sources: Baylor coaching search targets Dykes". Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  46. ^ "Rhule leaves Temple to become Baylor coach". Retrieved February 2, 2018.
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  49. ^ a b "Sonny Dykes Named Head Football Coach at SMU". SMU Athletics. December 12, 2017.
  50. ^ Beilue, Jon Mark (December 1, 2010). "Sharon Dykes: A coach's wife". Amarillo Globe-News.
  51. ^ Wilson, Dave (December 14, 2020). "Frisco Bowl canceled after COVID-19 issues with SMU; UTSA shifts to First Responder Bowl". ESPN.

External links[edit]