@CalFootball | @CalCoachDykes
Sonny Dykes is moving full-steam ahead with the rebuilding of the Cal football program in his second season as the Golden Bears’ head coach and his 20th as a collegiate football coach in 2014. There is much optimism for the future with signs of progress in all areas for a program that had a combined 16 freshmen and sophomores listed as starters on its final depth chart, improved its single-season Academic Progress Rate (APR) score 46 points to 969 and became one of Cal’s most active teams in the community in the first year under Dykes.
Dykes is enthusiastic about his second season at Cal.
“We’re excited about where we’re headed,” Dykes said. “We have a group of players that are starting to understand what it takes to be competitive at this level and what our expectations are. I’m really proud of their response to the challenges we’ve issued them. They’re working hard both on and off the field, and they’re starting to develop a team mentality. That’s critical as we move forward and become a much more competitive football program.”
“There are so many questions that get answered in the first year so your second year is always so much more efficient," Dykes added. "The biggest thing is to continue to get better every day and make progress. Although a lot of the progress we made in the first year hasn’t showed up on the field yet, we’ve made huge strides in so many different ways and we think that will be evident on the field in the second year. When that happens our fans will be able to see the progress that we’re making. Year two is always a lot more fun because that’s when you really visibly see your program start to grow and the things you teach start to take hold.”
Despite being an inexperienced unit that was the nation’s second-youngest to start the season and injuries that caused players on the preseason depth chart to miss 138 games due to injury, Cal set school records in 2013 for single-season passing yards (3,977), pass completions (368) and total plays (1,046). The passing offense finished the regular-season third in the Pac-12 and 10th in the nation with an average of 331.4 yards per game that was also the best in school history. Cal’s 5,443 yards of total offense was the third-highest total in school history and its average of 453.6 yards per game ranked fourth all-time at Cal.
Dykes tutored true freshman quarterback Jared Goff, who started all 12 games and was the first true freshman quarterback in school history to start a season-opener. Goff set school records in passing yards (3,508), most yardage gained (3,508), total offense (3,446) and completions (320) in his first season as the Bears’ signal caller. He also finished the regular season among the nation’s top 25 in completions per game (6th, 26.67 cpg), passing yards per game (12th, 292.3 ypg), passing yards (18th) and total offense (24th, 287.2 ypg).
Dykes came to Cal after spending three seasons at Louisiana Tech where he directed an offense that led the nation in both scoring offense (51.50 ppg) and total offense (577.92 ypg) during his final campaign at the helm in 2012. He spent three seasons as head coach for the Bulldogs, compiling a 22-15 record and winning 16 of 17 regular-season games during one stretch over the 2011 and 2012 schedules.
Dykes guided his 2012 Louisiana Tech team to a 9-3 mark, including road victories over FBS opponents Illinois (52-24), Houston (56-49) and Virginia (44-28). The Bulldogs also lost a narrow 59-57 decision to a Texas A&M team that later defeated top-ranked Alabama and earned a spot in the Cotton Bowl. Louisiana Tech reached as high as No. 18 in the national polls according to USA Today and was No. 19 in the Associated Press Top 25 after jumping out to a 9-1 start.
Dykes’ high-energy style of offense produced a prolific unit that in addition to leading the nation in both scoring offense and total offense produced the fifth-highest per-game scoring average ever by a team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The squad also finished among the NCAA’s top 20 in passing offense (3rd, 350.75 ypg), sacks allowed (7th, 0.83 per game), turnover margin (10th, +1.08 per game) and rushing offense (17th, 227.17 ypg). The Bulldogs scored more than 40 points in 11 of 12 games and over 50 points on eight occasions.
Quarterback Colby Cameron was named the 2012 Western Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year and earned the Sammy Baugh Award presented to college football’s top passer by The Touchdown Club of Columbus. Cameron completed 359-of-522 passes (68.8%) for 4,147 yards and 31 touchdowns with just five interceptions. He ranked third nationally in total offense (360.33 ypg), while he was 22nd in the nation in passing efficiency (153.19).
On the ground, running back Kenneth Dixon was tabbed the 2012 WAC Freshman of the Year after breaking Marshall Faulk’s NCAA freshman records for rushing touchdowns (27), total touchdowns (28) and points (168). Dixon led the country in scoring with 14.00 points per game while totaling 1,194 rushing yards on 200 carries.
During his tenure at Louisiana Tech, Dykes engineered a turnaround for a program that improved all three seasons under his leadership. The Bulldogs were 4-8 the year before he arrived in 2009, then proceeded to finish 5-7, 8-5 and 9-3 in successive campaigns. In 2011, Louisiana Tech started just 1-4 before winning seven consecutive games to clinch the Western Athletic Conference title – the team’s first conference championship in a decade – and a berth in the Poinsettia Bowl. Dykes was named the WAC Coach of the Year for the effort.
Dykes, the son of former longtime Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes, boasts a resume that includes additional stops in the Pac-12, Big 12 and SEC, where he served under such head coaches as Mike Stoops (Arizona), Mike Leach (Texas Tech) and Hal Mumme (Kentucky).
As offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Arizona for three seasons from 2007-09, Dykes helped the Wildcats to the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl and 2009 Holiday Bowl after having not reached the postseason for 10 years. Arizona posted marks of 8-5 both seasons and tied for second in what was then the Pac-10 in 2009 with a 6-3 league record.
Under his direction, the Wildcat offense established five single-season records. Arizona ranked 10th nationally in passing yards in 2007, and the Wildcats were 16th in scoring and 33rd in total offense in 2008. Dykes mentored, among others, quarterbacks Willie Tuitama, who was named MVP of the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl, and Nick Foles, who was selected in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft by Philadelphia and is now the starting quarterback for the Eagles.
Prior to his tenure at Arizona, Dykes spent seven seasons at his alma mater, Texas Tech, serving as receivers coach from 2000-04 and adding the title of co-offensive coordinator from 2005-06. The Red Raiders made seven straight postseason appearances and won 56 games during the span, including four postseason victories in the Tangerine, Houston, Holiday and Insight bowls over his last five seasons. In his final campaign at Texas Tech, the Red Raiders ranked No. 3 nationally in passing offense (369.5 ypg) and sixth in total offense (447.9 ypg). In 2006, Dykes received the Mike Campbell Top Assistant Coach Award from the American Football Coaches Association, the same year he was recognized as one of the top 25 recruiters in the country by Rivals.
Dykes spent two non-consecutive seasons at Kentucky, first as a graduate assistant working with tight ends in 1997 and later as special teams/wide receivers coach in Mumme’s “Air Raid” attack in 1999. During the fall of 1999, James Whalen developed into a first-team All-American and set a Division I-A record for tight ends with 90 receptions.
Sandwiched in between his two stints in Lexington, Dykes was the wide receivers coach at Northeast Louisiana in 1998, where he helped receiver Marty Booker set school season and career records while earning spots in the Blue-Gray Football Classic and East-West Shrine Game before being selected in the third round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears.
Dykes began his collegiate coaching career with a two-year stint at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, from 1995-96. He also was a baseball assistant at Monahans High School in Texas in 1994 and a football assistant at Pearce High School outside Dallas in 1995.
Born in Big Springs, Texas, Dykes received his bachelor’s degree in history from Texas Tech in 1993 and was a member of the Red Raider baseball team for two seasons. He is married to the former Kate Golding and they have two daughters, Alta (Ally) and Charlotte (Charlie).