It’s been a whirlwind of a week for Sonny Dykes.
Just last Tuesday, the former TCU offensive analyst was named the head coach of the SMU Mustangs football team. Just one day later, it was announced that he would coach SMU in the Frisco Bowl against his former team, the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Despite the short notice, Dykes was ready for the opportunity.
“It’s a lot of irony playing those guys the first time,” Dykes said. “It’s going to be fun to see a lot of familiar faces after the ball game. You know, it’s always the same: you are mortal enemies the day of the game and you are best friends afterward.”
At Louisiana Tech, Dykes helped build the foundation for current Bulldog coach Skip Holtz. In his three seasons at the helm, Dykes posted a 22-15 record, and won one Western Athletic Conference Championship. Holtz took over right where Dykes left off, leading the Bulldogs to three-straight nine-win seasons before falling back to 6-6 this year.
“It’s hard to be consistent and be a consistent winner in college football and they have done that,” Dykes said. “They’ve won every year. They’ve been to bowl games year after year.”
After coaching at Louisiana Tech, Dykes coached at Cal for four season. With the Golden Bears, he helped quarterback Jared Goff develop into the first overall selection in the 2016 draft. He also led one of the nations leading offenses.
But it was Dykes’ defenses that struggled, finishing among the last in the NCAA yards allowed and points allowed each season. Dykes thinks that he learned a lot from Gary Patterson at TCU, and left knowing how he could better manage a defense in his next head coaching stint.
“I could see how a defensive minded head coach ran his program,” Dykes said. “It was a great opportunity for me to be around one of the premier defensive minds in college football.”
Dykes did not take the SMU job thinking he was going to coach the Mustangs on Wednesday. He thought that he would be out looking for assistant coaches, and on the recruiting trail. But SMU athletic director Rick Hart sat him down and talked him into it, a decision Dykes thinks made a lot of sense.
“It was an opportunity for me to get to know the players and for them to get to know me,” Dykes said.
One thing that Dykes has yet to get to know well is SMU’s offensive playbook. On Wednesday, the Mustangs will be running their old offense, the one taught to them by Joe Craddock and Chad Morris. However, Dykes sat down with Ben Hicks last week, and Hicks walked him through the ins and outs of the system. Dykes will have G.J. Kinne calling plays against the Bulldogs, but will look to Hicks as well.
“I told him he’s going to be the only player-coach in college football,” Dykes said.
Kickoff for the Frisco Bowl is at 7 p.m. on Dec. 20th at Toyota Stadium. The game will air on ESPN.