From career crossroads to coaching glory, Sonny Dykes leads TCU to football pinnacle

Sonny Dykes was contemplating his next move as the off-field offensive analyst at TCU neared the end of the season.

The son of longtime college coach Spike Dykes, who was laid off from his previous head coaching job and has three young children at home, has even considered a career change after playing football for more than 20 years. did. He was looking into what he needed to do to get a real estate license.

Five years later, the 53-year-old has settled back home in Texas and is still doing what he always wanted to do, nearing the peak of his career with four teams in TCU (12-1). college football playoffs.

“It’s been a lot. It’s the culmination of a lot,” said Dykes, who was named the Associated Press Coach of the Year in his first season as head coach at the school, where he was a consultant to coach Gary Patterson in 2017. Told.

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The Horned Frogs, who were undefeated this season in the Big 12 Championship Game before losing to Kansas State in overtime, will face Big 10 champions Michigan (13-0) in Saturday’s CFP Semifinal Fiesta Bowl. TCU is the first Big 12 team outside of Oklahoma to make his CFP, and the first from Texas.

“As a Texan, Texas means a lot to me, and Texas’ college football history means a lot to me,” Dykes said.

That season working for the Frogs, when they made their only other Big 12 title game, was an opportunity for Dykes to go home after a 19-30 record in four seasons in California. A job in the West just wasn’t the right fit for the good-natured Texas-born coach.

“I was looking around, trying to get a job, trying to decide … working where I didn’t always want to go was the direction I wanted to go,” he said. “Obviously, I always wanted to coach.”

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SMU then offered him a head coaching job, placing the Big Spring native just 40 miles and four years before finally returning to replace Patterson at TCU. Dykes, whose first head coaching job was at Louisiana Tech, led SMU to 30 wins in a four-season stretch, the best since becoming the only program shut down by the so-called NCAA death penalty 30 years ago. .

The Frogs went 23-24 during the same period and parted ways with Patterson before entering their 21st season. Dykes was quickly considered a favorite to replace him and got the job after the regular season.

Dykes grew up in Lone Star State, where his late father coached at several levels for 38 years. This included Spike’s 14 seasons as a coach at Texas Tech, where the young Dykes played baseball instead of soccer.

Sonny spent seven seasons as an assistant at Texas Tech University. His first seven seasons were on the staff of the late Mike Leach after his father retired. He first went West as an offensive coordinator at Arizona from 2007-09, then at Louisiana Tech with a 22-15 record in three seasons, before landing a job at the University of California.

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Dykes now leads the TCU program that won its only AP National Title in 1938. At this time, quarterback Davey O’Brien became the school’s only Heisman Trophy winner. During the 2010 season, the Frogs went 13-0 as a member of the Mountain West Conference, finishing second in the national rankings with a Rose Bowl victory.

When TCU closed out the 2022 regular season with a win over Iowa State, it was Sonny’s 83rd career win, one more than his father.

“I felt like he was with me all year long,” Dykes said. “He’s definitely going to get a kick out of our guys. What kind of guys are they? I know he’s going to feel the same way.”

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