Sonny Dykes to be next Cal football head coach


On Wednesday, Cal officially hired Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes, known for his high-octane spread offenses, to lead the football team.

As the 33rd coach in Cal program history, Dykes will take over for Jeff Tedford, who was fired Nov. 20 after a 3-9 campaign this season.

“I am excited for the opportunity to become head coach at the University of California,” Dykes said in a statement Wednesday evening. ” I’m looking forward to bringing our exciting and enthusiastic brand of football to Berkeley.”

In Dykes’ three years at the helm in Louisiana Tech, the Bulldogs went 22-15. In 2011, Dykes was named WAC Coach of the Year for leading his squad to its first league title in 10 years and a trip to the Poinsettia Bowl. Louisiana Tech was ranked as high as No. 19 in 2012 and finished the regular season with a 9-3 record.

Under his explosive offense, the Bulldogs ranked first in scoring in 2012 with 51.5 points per game and fourth in passing yards per game.

Dykes, 43, was formerly the offensive coordinator at Arizona from 2007 to 2009 and served as wide receivers coach and then co-offensive coordinator at Texas Tech from 2000 until 2006.

Coaching the air raid offense under Mike Leach, Dykes helped lead Texas Tech to winning records in all seven seasons, with a second-place Big 12 finish in 2005. The following year, he won the Mike Campbell Top Assistant Award after the 8-5 Red Raiders ranked third nationally in passing with two of its receivers ranked among the top three in receptions.

During his time at Arizona, the Wildcats blossomed in the offensive scheme and had eight-win seasons in 2008 and 2009. The latter campaign saw Arizona upset USC and end the regular season with its first top-25 ranking since 2000.

Dykes has big shoes to fill at Cal in following Tedford, who won a program-best 82 games in his 11 seasons as Cal head coach. But after perennial elite teams in the mid-2000s with now-NFL stars such as Aaron Rodgers, Marshawn Lynch and DeSean Jackson, the Bears have struggled as of late. Cal has gone 15-22 over the last three seasons and has the worst graduation rate in the Pac-12 at 48 percent.

Cal Athletics Director Sandy Barbour was assisted in the coaching search by executive search firm DHR International. She had previously stated that the four main characteristics she would look for in a new head coach are athletic success, academic achievement, community engagement and fiscal responsibility.

“It was the way he described his responsibility to the University at large and his commitment to creating a climate of comprehensive excellence and success for his student-athletes,” Barbour said in a statement Wednesday. “We discussed the unique place that Berkeley and Cal Athletics occupy in higher education, standing for both academic and athletic excellence. Above all, Sonny values the opportunity to develop relationships with and have an impact on his student-athletes, staff and community.”

Dykes graduated from Texas Tech University, where he played baseball. He received his master’s degree from the University of Kentucky in 1999.

Jonathan Kuperberg covers football. Contact him at [email protected]

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  • Guest

    Zach Kline needs to transfer. He’s (perhaps) the second-coming of Andrew Luck but he’s not an air raid style QB. Get out NOW Zach, you’ve been betrayed. As much as I hate to say it, Furd would be a much better fit.

    Khalfani Muhammad, too, because RB’s in this offense are as useful as teats on a boar hog. Of course Gould will be gone for the same reason.

    Not that we’ll actually have any alternatives for all this exit of talent, of course. Instead, we’ll struggle with not having the right personnel and we’ll get embarrassed each game; much like Leach has at WSU. All the while, we’ll hear “wait til next year” as if THAT will make a difference. It won’t and not just because we don’t have the offensive talent needed.

    We will fail because the offense Dykes got from Leach is a gimmick. It MIGHT have worked in the Wac and it might have worked elsewhere years ago when it was created but it won’t in the Pac-12 now. Hasn’t it worked well at Oregon? No, Oregon’s offense is not the Air Raid style of spread offense that Dykes runs, it is the Urban Myer style. We know that the Air Raid style will fail in the Pac because it failed at UCLA and Dykes has already failed with it in the Pac as OC at Arizona and it is failing with its creator, Leach, now. By year 3, when we still aren’t any closer to a winning program, Dykes will get fired and we’ll do this all again.

    It is sad and it is awful and we have Sandy Barbour to thank for it.

    • Current Student

      F*** you, stanfurd student ^^

  • Yee-haw

    Cue dueling banjos and accordions.

    • Drool of dribbling chitlins

      The should be an escort party to that effect wherever he walks on campus, and the team should run out of the tunnel to zydeco from now on.

      It’s not like people could get any less enthusiastic in jaded California; things have already hit bottom so try something new. Maybe we could attract some rabid hicks and join the SEC.

  • Mike P

    I think this is a good choice. We just need to have him combine his potent offense with better defense. In past years Cal’s seondary has never been that good, and except for an occasional outstanding D-back (Delta O’Neal, Syd’ Quan Thompson, Daymeion Hughes and others like Asomugha, Giordano) they seem to give up big plays too often. I used to say…Cal can win the game if they score more points; I know it sounds simple, but now we have a chance! Go Bears!

  • Guest

    The only possible explanation for this hire is that Sandy Barbour got excited when she saw the name Dykes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Preference, that is, not this hire. This hire sucks.

    I’d rather have Tedford than this guy.

  • king of the tightwat hill

    dykes very appropriate name for cal

  • Game Over

    Looks like no more Rose Bowls for the foreseeable future, Cal alums. It’s almost like we want to have a failing football program. What makes this time different than any of the other atrocious hires we’ve had in the past, though, is that we now have a $321 million stadium to fund.

    Not only will countless alums die without ever seeing Cal in a Rose Bowl and not only will we continue to be Furd’s bitch for (seeming) eternity, we’ll also be the proud former owners of a football stadium that has now been foreclosed upon and used as a parking lot.

    Congrats, Sandy. You’ve screwed us royally, this time.

  • loverpoint

    Is there any indication that he will be replacing any of the assistants that were under Tedford? I have always liked Ron Gould and hope he remains with the Bears, He does a great job in recruiting RB’s. I wonder if he will keep Jim Michalczik as OC and OL coordinator? He is the only assistant coach I could see Dykes replacing right now- he might just put him in charge of the OL only.

    Lets see if just by hiring Dykes that it makes any impact on their recruiting this year. It sounds like it should attract a lot of offensive talent.

    I hear the Keenan Allen has declared himself for the draft. Personally I think it is a big mistake. From looking at some of the Mock Drafts he most certainly will be drafted in the top 15 which is good for him and I can see where that was so tempting that it is hard to refuse. I want to see how he does at the Combine in a few months.

  • GetOffMyLawn

    Is the Cal lesbian community in an uproar over this decision?

  • alum

    Contract terms?

  • Jeff Tedford

    I hate this guy , I am awesome

  • name

    Wow, what a lousy pick. THIS guy is going to turn the academic profile of the football program around? Gee whiz. We should have recruited from the Ivy League, as we did with the Chancellor.

    • adsahdj

      You’re a fool. We can have 30 All-Academics and nobody will go to the games if they suck and the University will be fucked with great new facilities but nobody to pay for them. I could care less if they don’t know how to read–I want them to bring home a championship for Cal, or at least a Rose Bowl appearance.

      • Name

        The Pac ain’t the Wac and Berkeley ain’t Louisiana. This good ol’ boy is gonna figure that out pretty damned quick.

        Not only can’t Dykes recruit in the West, or win in the Pac, do you REALLY think said good ol’ boy from Louisiana is gonna improve the graduation rates? No. The answer is no.

      • man

        Wow, talked about messed-up priorities. You should have gone to the University of Alabama or Texas or Miami if football was so damn important to you.

    • Current Student

      who gives a **** about graduation rates?

  • I_h8_disqus

    With this head coaching choice, Sandy is telling us that she is still not willing to make the football team into a top program. Rugby and our water sports won’t have to worry about being out shown.

    • adsahdj

      Why? He’s a great offensive coach from everything I’ve seen, good recruiter, and is going to have immense resources at his disposal (i.e. the new facilities, new recruiting grounds.)

      • I_h8_disqus

        I don’t think we can say that he is a great offensive coach or recruiter. Mike Leech was probably the offensive and recruiting man at Texas Tech, and a few years at Louisiana Tech doesn’t give me a real good feel for what he would do at Cal. He has potential, but I think if Cal wants to go to the next level, we shouldn’t bring in a coach with potential. We should bring in a coach who has shown that they can play at the highest level.


    This is a great move if they team it up with a good defensive guy to run the other side. Dykes knows offensive like no ones business, if you team that with a great defense this could be a championship team.

    • Guest

      It’s not a coincidence that teams with “air raid” offenses ALWAYS seem to give up lots of yards and points.

      When the offense can’t maintain possession of the ball, then the defense is out on the field way too much and the defensive players get fatigued. No defensive coordinator, no matter how good of a coach, can change that basic fact.

  • Bob

    Pretty underwhelmed about this choice…hopefully we get a good DC to improve the team.

  • not to nitpick

    “basebal” Penultimate sentence