Bear Blog: Tell us about your first two weeks on the job
Sonny Dykes: It's been busy. There is a lot of stuff going on. You try to prioritize everything, but it gets backed up pretty quickly. The biggest thing I try to do No. 1, recruit; No. 2, hire a staff. The third thing is just trying to get out and meet as many people as I possibly can. Those have been the three biggest priorities. Obviously, I'm trying to spend as much time with the players as possible before they wrap up finals and get out of here. It's been busy. You wish you had more time to do certain things. But it's been productive.
BB: How has recruiting gone so far?
SD: Recruiting has been great. We've added five new commits since we got hired, so that's been exciting. The response has been great. Kids are interested in Cal. The university sells itself. If we do a good job of presenting a unified message, then I think the recruiting part of it is going to be great. To me, we have a chance to have one of the top recruiting classes in the country at Cal.
BB: How important was it to reach out to current commits right away?
SD: The first night, I tried to get a hold of as many of those players as I could. The guys I didn't get the first night, I tried to get the second night. Sometimes a coaching change is hard. There is some uncertainty. But at the end of the day, those kids chose Cal because of Ca because of the university. There's always adding and subtracting that happens in recruiting, but we've held the recruiting class together well and we're excited about getting this thing finished up in January.
BB: What have you learned about Cal so far?
SD: The thing that is impressive is the tradition of the program. There is tremendous tradition here. It's a very passionate fan base, more so than I thought. It's an educated fan base, which has been fun. That's been the most impressive thing - how dedicated people are to Cal. I've heard great stories of people who have been coming to Cal games since a young age and have been coming their entire lives. I don't think I understood the passion that Cal football has and how much they care and how dedicated they are. That's been a real positive.
BB: How much interaction have you had with the fan base yet?
SD: Just having a chance to talk to fans at a basketball game or Grid Club or just being in the community at a pizza joint at night, people have been incredibly positive and shared a lot of stories with me, being third or fourth generation Cal people.
BB: Sandy Barbour said you were the right fit for Cal. What about you makes that true?
SD: I think there is a direct correlation between having academic success and athletic success. I think it speaks highly of the character of your program. If a guy comes in here and works hard academically, then typically they're going to work hard on the field as well and be good team guys. I think Sandy and I share a vision for this place that is all about bringing in the right kind of student here, the student that fits. A student that is interested in not only playing football but is interested in getting a degree and doing something the rest of their lives. That's what we're excited about - going out and having the opportunity to recruit those kinds of kids that are coming here not just because of football but because of academics as well.
BB: What was your reaction when you were first approached about this job?
SD: I was excited. I just think this place has huge potential. I think as coaches, that's really all you can ask for - having the resources that you need to be successful. Cal has those resources. It presents an opportunity to win conference championships and get to the Rose Bowl. If you can do that, you can compete for national championships. When you look at Cal, I think the potential is here to do that.
BB: What are your impressions of the area so far?
SD: My wife and I go on vacation four times a year and three of them are usually in the Bay Area. We go to Napa, we go to Tahoe and we go to Pebble Beach. When I was at Texas Tech, we were traveling all the way out here from Lubbock. When I was at Arizona, we were traveling all the way out here from Arizona and when I was at Louisiana Tech, we were traveling all the way out here. Obviously, we have a love for the Bay Area. It's a place we loved to visit. So we thought living here would be even better.
BB: How much time have you been able to spend with the players so far?
SD: I tried to meet with as many guys as I could before they took off. I was in and out recruiting so I didn't have a chance to meet with as many as I would have liked to. I'm going to call the guys over the holidays. I'll be on the phone a lot with the players, just kind of talking to them and encouraging them and telling them how excited I am to work with them. I want to get feedback from them. What are the strengths of the program? What are the weaknesses? What do we need build on? What do we need to adjust? I believe every situation is unique and you have to get a feel for what's good about things, what's bad about things and that will help us set our sights on what's most important and prioritize the issues we need to fix immediately and the things we can fix a little further down the line.
BB: From the players you have talked to, what kind of feedback have you received?
SD: Guys are excited. Anytime there's a coaching change, it's difficult. But I think the guys are excited. They're optimistic and I feel like we have the opportunity to do some special things. We're ready to get to work. Anytime there's a change, guys have ideas. Everybody is different. Certain guys wouldn't change one thing. Certain guys would change everything. That's just what you expect.
BB: How much have you interacted with the community so far?
SD: We're trying to find a house that's as close to campus as possible. I think part of being the head coach at Cal is being part of the community and trying to immerse yourself and your family in Berkeley as much as you can because it's such a unique place. I love the energy of Berkeley and the campus. We want to be active, we want to be involved; that's what we're trying to do. There's more going on here than any place I've ever been, and I think that's the strength of this place. There is an energy and there is a passion and there is a desire and a uniqueness to this place which I think makes it very appealing.