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Sonny Dykes will be in his first season as the head coach at Cal in 2013 after directing an offense that led the nation in both scoring and offense a year ago at Louisiana Tech. Dykes, 43, brings 18 years of collegiate coaching experience to Berkeley. He spent the past three years as head coach at Louisiana Tech, where he compiled a 22-15 record and won 16 of 17 regular season games during one stretch over the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
"Sonny Dykes is one of the brightest offensive minds in the country, running a high-octane style of football, one that I'm certain will allow our student-athletes to thrive and that our community will love on gameday," Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said when Dykes was announced as the school’s 33rd head coach on December 5, 2012. "However, it was far more than his history of a top-ranked offense and his proven success on the football field that solidified my decision; 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. 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 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 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 offense that in addition to leading the nation in both scoring offense (51.50 ppg) and total offense (577.92 ypg) with an offense that posted the fifth-highest per-game scoring average ever by a team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), was also 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 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, and then won 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 the Philadelphia 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 All-American Football Foundation, 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).
The Dykes File
Collegiate Coaching History
Head Coaching Record
Bowl Games (11)
*Season in which bowl game was played
What They're Saying
"He's outstanding ... and he's got a great offensive mind. He knows how to go out and put points on the board. With his pedigree and his background, I think he would be an outstanding coach no matter where he is." – ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit
"Sonny Dykes is an absolute home run hire for Cal and the Pac-12. I spent 25 years in that league as an AD and he is as prepared as anybody I have seen. Congratulations to Sandy Barbour and the entire Cal administration. He is a great coach, a great person and a phenomenal recruiter. This is as good a hire as you will see in college football this year." – Jim Livengood, former Arizona AD and current AD at UNLV
"If you have not seen or read Sonny Dykes' name by now, it might be time for familiarization. Dykes is quickly becoming one of the more buzzed-about names for open or soon-to-be-open coaching jobs. Yes, the college football hot stove season has arrived. I'd venture to say that Dykes is the No. 1 name to watch in this cycle of the carousel." – Travis Haney, ESPN.com
Last Updated: July 18, 2013