BERKELEY - Sonny Dykes, one of the brightest offensive minds in the country who directed the nation's top-ranked scoring offense at Louisiana Tech this past season, has been named head football coach at the University of California, Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour announced Wednesday.
"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," Barbour said. "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, 43, brings 18 years of collegiate coaching experience to Berkeley, including three seasons as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Arizona from 2007-09. 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 '12 seasons.
This past year, Dykes guided Louisiana Tech to a 9-3 mark, which included 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. 19 in the Associated Press poll and No. 18 in the USA Today poll after jumping out to a 9-1 start.
"I am excited for the opportunity to become head coach at the University of California," Dykes said. "Cal offers one of the best combinations of athletics and academics in the country, and a passionate fan base to match. I'm looking forward to bringing our exciting and enthusiastic brand of football to Berkeley. Our objectives are numerous. In addition to winning football games, we will strive to develop the total student-athlete in the classroom, on the field of play and in the campus and local communities. We want a win-everywhere mentality."
Dykes' high-energy style of offense produced one of the most accomplished attacks in the country this past fall. Louisiana Tech led the nation with 51.50 points per game while also ranking among the NCAA's top 20 in total offense (2nd, 577.92 yards per game), passing offense (4th, 350.75 ypg), rushing offense (18th, 227.17 ypg), turnover margin (10th, +1.08 per game) and sacks allowed (8th, 0.83 per game). The Bulldogs scored at least 40 points in 11 of 12 games and 50 or more points on eight occasions.
Quarterback Colby Cameron was named the 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. He ranked fourth nationally in total offense (360.33 ypg) and 24th 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 with 14.00 ppg after totaling 1,194 yards on 200 carries.
During his years at Louisiana Tech in Ruston, La., Dykes engineered a turnaround for the 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 coaches as Mike Stoops (Arizona), Mike Leach (Texas Tech) and Hal Mumme (Kentucky).
As offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Arizona, Dykes helped the Wildcats to the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl and 2009 Holiday Bowl after not having reached the postseason for 10 years. Arizona posted marks of 8-5 both years and tied for second in the Pac-10 in '09 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 picked in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Prior to his tenure in Tucson, Ariz., 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 victories in the Tangerine, Houston, Holiday and Insight bowls over his last five seasons. In his final season in Lubbock, Texas Tech ranked No. 3 in passing offense (369.5 ypg) and sixth in total offense (447.9 ypg). In 2006, Dykes received the Mike Campbell Top Assistant 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 '99, 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 and earn Blue-Gray and Shrine Game spots before getting drafted in the third round by the Chicago Bears in 1999.
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 HS outside Dallas in 1995.
Born in Big Springs, Texas, and a 1993 graduate of Texas Tech with a degree in history, Dykes lettered in three years for the Red Raider baseball team. He is married to the former Kate Golding and they have two daughters, Alta (Ally) and Charlotte (Charlie).
Details on a contract with the University are still being finalized and are not available at this time. As part of normal policy, the contract will be released once it is approved by the UC Board of Regents.
What They're Saying
"Cal landed a great coach in Sonny Dykes. He has always been on the cutting edge offensively and is now a proven head coach. They are lucky to have him." - Texas head coach Mack Brown
"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