Sonny Dykes has the Cal football program on the cusp of a breakthrough season in his third campaign as the Golden Bears’ head coach and his 21st as a collegiate football coach in 2015. The optimism for the future is building after the Bears’ four-win improvement in 2014 that was the best turnaround for the program since 2002 and left Cal one victory short of playing in its first bowl game since 2011.
Cal finished the 2014 season with a 5-7 overall record and 3-6 mark in the conference to place fourth in the Pac-12 North for its highest showing since the 2011 team was also fourth. Cal won four of its first five games to begin the 2014 season with back-to-back wins over Northwestern and Sacramento State before thrilling and record-setting victories over Colorado (in double overtime) and at Washington State. The Bears picked up their fifth win of the campaign at Oregon State. Cal received votes in the AP Top 25 and USA Today national polls for the first time since 2011 on Oct. 5 after the 4-1 start and a 2-1 Pac-12 record that put Cal in first place (Pac-12 North) three games into the league schedule for the first time since 2006.
Cal ranked in the top 25 nationally in 10 categories in 2014 including blocked punts allowed (T1st, 0), passing offense (6th, 346.0 ypg), scoring offense (10th, 38.3 ppg), total offense (13th, 495.2 ypg), fourth-down conversion percentage (14th, 67.9%, 19-28), blocked punts (T16th, 1), first downs offense (19th, 319), third-down conversions (23rd, 46.1%), team passing efficiency (24th, 145.77) and kickoff returns (24th, 22.9 ypg).
Cal also set or equaled 12 single-season school or modern-era records in 2014. The Bears established season records for passing yards (4152), passing touchdowns (37), total yards per game (495.2 ypg), first downs passing (188), kick return touchdowns (2), fewest punt returns allowed (7) and opponent penalty yards (973). Cal set modern-era school records for points (459), scoring average (38.2 ppg) and touchdowns (61) that were second all-time behind the 1920 team (510 points, 56.7 ppg, 72 touchdowns), while tying modern-era records for PAT (56) and PAT attempts (57). In addition, the Bears were involved in 18 single-game marks.
Cal was able to achieve all of this in 2014 while playing 42 newcomers including 23 freshmen and 11 true freshmen. The Bears also used 19 other players for the first time in their Cal career. The Bears players that accounted for over 80 percent of its offensive productive in the following categories in 2014 with collegiate eligibility remaining in 2015 – passing (99.7%), total offense (99.3%), rushing (98.4%), all-purpose (89.7%), touchdowns (88.5%) and receiving (84.6%).
National honors candidate Jared Goff has put up huge numbers in the last two seasons under Dykes’ tutelage. Goff’s career totals of 7481 passing yards, 53 passing touchdowns and 7375 yards of total offense are third in school history, while he has already registered all-time school records with 12 career 300-yard passing performances and 17 250-yard passing games. Goff has completed 636-of-1040 passes (61.2%) in his career with 17 interceptions for a 135.13 passer efficiency rating that ranks fourth on Cal’s all-time list.
Goff broke 15 school records in 2014 including single-season passing yards (3973), most yardage gained (3973), passing touchdowns (35) and total offense (3929) while completing 316-of-509 passes (62.1%) with seven interceptions for a 147.59 passer efficiency rating that was the fourth-best single season mark in school history. His totals for passing yardage and touchdown passes are also both eighth on the all-time Pac-12 single-season rankings. Goff ranked among the nation’s top 10 in six individual categories including passing touchdowns (5th), passing yards (5th), passing yards per game (5th, 331.1 ypg), completions per game (5th, 26.33 cpg), total offense (8th, 327.4 ypg) and points responsible for per game (9th, 18.0 ppg). His passing yards and passing yards per game were both second in the Pac-12, while his passing touchdowns, completions per game and total offense were third and his points responsible for per game fourth.
Dykes also tutored Goff as a 2013 true freshmen when he 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 before eclipsing all but the completions total in 2014. 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).
Despite being an inexperienced unit that was the nation’s second-youngest to start the season and battling injuries that caused players on the preseason depth chart to miss 138 games, Cal still set school records in 2013 for single-season passing yards (3977), pass completions (368) and total plays (1046) with the passing yards mark being broken in 2014. 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 at the time. Cal’s 5443 yards of total offense is the fourth-highest total in school history and its average of 453.6 yards per game ranks fifth all-time at Cal.
There are signs of progress both on and off the field for a program that improved its single-season Academic Progress Rate (APR) score by 46 points to 969 in the first and only report to date under Dykes in 2012-13 and has became one of Cal’s most active teams in the community.
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 in 2012 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 WAC Offensive Player of the Year and earned the Sammy Baugh Award presented to college football’s top passer by The Touchdown Club of Columbus.
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.
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.
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 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 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).
The Dykes File
|Birthdate:||November 9, 1969|
|Hometown:||Big Springs, TX|
|High School:||Coronado HS|
|College:||Texas Tech, 1993|
|Bachelor's in History|
|daughters, Alta (Ally) and Charlotte (Charlie)|
Collegiate Coaching History
|1995||Navarro College||Running Backs|
|1996||Navarro College||Passing Game/Quarterbacks|
|1997||Kentucky||Graduate Assistant/Tight Ends|
|1998||Northeast Louisiana||Wide Receivers|
|1999||Kentucky||Special Teams/Wide Receivers|
|2000||Texas Tech||Wide Receivers|
|2001||Texas Tech||Wide Receivers|
|2002||Texas Tech||Wide Receivers|
|2003||Texas Tech||Wide Receivers|
|2004||Texas Tech||Wide Receivers|
|2005||Texas Tech||Co-Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers|
|2006||Texas Tech||Co-Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers|
|2010||Louisiana Tech||Head Coach|
|2011||Louisiana Tech||Head Coach|
|2012||Louisiana Tech||Head Coach|
Head Coaching Record
|Year||School||Overall Record||Conference Record/Place|
|2010||Louisiana Tech||5-7||4-4/5th WAC|
|2011||Louisiana Tech||8-5||6-1/1st WAC|
|2012||Louisiana Tech||9-3||4-2/3rd WAC|
|2013||Cal||1-11||0-9/6th Pac-12 North|
|2014||Cal||5-7||3-6/4th Pac-12 North|
|Totals||28-33||17-22 (14-7 WAC, 3-15 Pac-12)|
Bowl History (11 Games)
|1999||Kentucky||Music City Bowl|
|2000||Texas Tech||Gallery Furniture.com Bowl|
|2001||Texas Tech||Alamo Bowl|
|2002||Texas Tech||Tangerine Bowl|
|2003||Texas Tech||Houston Bowl|
|2004||Texas Tech||Holiday Bowl|
|2005||Texas Tech||Cotton Bowl|
|2006||Texas Tech||Insight Bowl|
|2008||Arizona||Las Vegas Bowl|
|2011||Louisiana Tech||Poinsettia Bowl|
*Season in which bowl game was played
Last Updated: March 13, 2015