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]