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Sonny Dykes Talks Tennessee Job, Evolved Look at Coaching Carousel

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas — Sonny Dykes may have looked at it differently 10 years ago, or even three years ago.

He was younger then, trying to make a name for himself in the coaching sphere.

But now, when job opportunities like Tennessee come calling, Dykes likes to say he has a different outlook on the process. One that is more mature, furnished by coaching stops past and present.

“As a young coach, sometimes you chase jobs, and those logos are important to you and all that. And I’m way past that,” Dykes said in a media availability this afternoon. “I have a really unique situation here in terms of my family. We love it. Dallas is my home. Texas is my home.”

Dykes’ name has been mentioned as a serious candidate for a series of Power Five schools over the last two offseasons. Last year, it was more of a courtesy call after Dykes brought SMU into the top 25 for the first time since the Death Penalty.

This offseason, though, when SMU reached inside the top 20 for the second straight year, those calls became more serious. Tennessee reportedly made a run for Dykes, making it a possibility that the 51-year-old head coach could position himself for an SEC job.

However, Dykes indicated on Wednesday that Tennessee, and other jobs like it, were not necessarily his goal. It is more about situations, people and personnel. That, at the end of the day, will move the needle.

“If somebody has an interest in hiring you — especially if you know somebody there, for me it’s always about relationships,” Dykes said. “And if you happen to know an athletic director somewhere, or you happen to know the president someplace, or if you happen to know an assistant athletic director — to me, those types of relationships are much more important than logos. A logo doesn’t mean anything to me at all. Nothing.”

It doesn’t mean that Dykes won’t go anywhere. He said there are situations he would hear out. It just needs to be the right fit, with the right person.

He also went out of his way to note that SMU was a good place for him and his family right now.

In the past three seasons at SMU, Dykes has won 22 games and returned SMU to national relevance. He still hasn’t won a conference championship, but has placed SMU to be within a game of going to the conference championship multiple times.

“I love our players,” Dykes said. “I love SMU’s commitment to our football program. I love the vision that we have … This is a very, very good job. And I’m very fortunate to be here. And I know that.”

Dykes’ declined to speak directly to the Tennessee job. He did have some ties to the Vols in terms of former coaching staffs at past stops like Louisiana Tech. He didn’t say whether he interviewed for the job, or if Tennessee would fall into the category of jobs he would hear out.

Instead, Dykes remained adamant to the larger point.

“There’s just very, very few places that I’m interested in talking to at all,” Dykes said.

The Daily Campus looked at public information documents over the summer about some of the school’s highest-paid individuals. Dykes earned around $1.34 million in 2019 before a contract extension was announced at the end of that year.

For reference, Tennessee paid its last coach, Jeremy Pruitt, $4.2 million a year. So, with the bigger jobs comes the bigger draw of salary.

But, for now, Dykes did not seem as interested. He noted he would like to be transparent about the process, but also he would prefer to keep his name out of the news cycle when it comes to jobs.

Sometimes, he says, his name comes up in the news and he hasn’t been contacted by the school.

The Texas native has coached at Power Five schools before. He was the head coach at Cal and the offensive coordinator at Arizona. He also has made stops at TCU, Kentucky and Texas Tech.

Right now, though, SMU is where he wants to be. And that, he tried to make clear today.

“There’s been some jobs that people perceive to be, maybe big jobs that I haven’t had any interest in. And there’s been some jobs that people would perceive to be maybe not as big a job where I’ve known somebody where I might have interest in if the situation presented itself.”

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