We as Cal football fans are still warming up to the idea of the Coach Sonny Dykes era dawning in Berkeley. As we try to learn more about the man who has taken over as the face of California Golden Bear football, we continue to catch up with folks who have had experience with Coach Dykes in their programs. Previously, the folks at Arizona Desert Swarm were kind enough to answer our questions about their experience with Dykes as their offensive coordinator. Today, we chat with Seth C from the Viva The Matadors blog (formerly known as Double T Nation), the venerable Texas Tech SB Nation blog. Dykes spent seven years as part of then-Coach Mike Leach's staff at Texas Tech, coaching wide receivers and later becoming co-offensive coordinator. Dykes was the Red Raiders' receivers coach in 2004 when Texas Tech handed Cal its lunch in the infamous (for us) 45-31 win over the Aaron Rodgers-led Bears in the Holiday Bowl.
Thanks to Seth C for answering our queries.
1. Sonny Dykes, obviously, is the son of TTU longtime coach Spike Dykes. (GUNS UP!) We've heard that the Dykes family is beloved in Lubbock - can you explain for us Californians why that might be?
Seth C: Spike was the head coach at Texas Tech for over a decade and the Dykes family is still a big part of the community. As you all are probably well aware by now, Sonny really worked his way up the ladder and he didn't seem to at all rely on his family name that probably could have gotten him in the door to some college program immediately. Being a hard worker for a head coach is a tremendous trait to have and there's no doubt that Spike instilled that. There were some Texas Tech fans hoping that Sonny would eventually be hired at Texas Tech at some point, coming full circle in a sense. He could have been a nice gap between what Leach was, which is what fans somewhat still crave, and his father, who is still respected by many Red Raiders.
2. When Tech destroyed the best Cal team of the last . . .um 50 years or so (I claim an injured secondary and wide receiver corps that was down to one regular wide out helped!), how much was Sonny involved in that offense? The job title said "WR coach" - but how much does that have to do with running Leach's Air Raid offense?
Seth C: That's the problem -- none of us really knew how much the coordinators were involved. Although I have never been an offensive coordinator for Leach, I tend to think of the job as more as an internship in that the OC is to learn and soak up as much as possible. We never really heard from any of the coordinators during Leach's tenure, not all that much. We really didn't know anything about them other than they were in the background. Holgorsen really didn't become Holgo until he spread his wings a bit at Houston and Oklahoma St. The same goes for Dykes at Arizona and obviously at Louisiana Tech. Leach is pretty much calling every play, I think, while the OC is there to help point out what's happening on the field from the coach's box.
3. How was Sonny as a recruiter? Does this suddenly further expand Cal's recruiting base into Texas? We've always gotten a couple of kids from Texas a year - should we expect more and have to install a brisket smoker somewhere on campus?
Seth C: When Dykes was at Texas Tech when recruiting just became a thing that people paid attention to, that would include me. If anything, Sonny is and was successful at recruiting because he probably knew every high school coach in Texas, partly because of his name, but partly because he coached at the high school level, then at the JUCO level.
4) What's the overall feeling for the Dykes' era at TTU? Was he admired? Beloved?
Seth C: For Spike, he is very much beloved now. At the time that he handed the program off to Leach, I think most fans were ready for a change and it was an easy transition. For Sonny, I don't think that any fan ever really complained about the play calling because everyone knew that Leach was the one calling plays. I can't ever remember anyone calling for firing an offensive coordinator. They were in the background for the most part.
5) What stands out most in your mind when you think of Dykes' offense? Are there certain plays or formations make you grimace?
Seth C: Sonny has really taken off and done his own thing, which is really what every former coach for Leach has done. They're really doing their own thing. Leach gives them the blueprint and then they take off and run with it. It doesn't matter if it is Holgorsen, Dykes, Seth Littrell (Indiana's OC), or Lincoln Riley (E. Carolina), they're all doing their own thing, but they are all running more than Leach did or does. Leach is still pretty resolute on running at a 28% rate, while most of the guys listed above run at a much higher rate and do it with some excellent success. It was never Sonny's offense at Texas Tech, it was always Leach's.
6) How was Dykes' at making in-game and halftime adjustments?
7) What's your sense of how Dykes' developed players and fit them into his scheme? Did you see changes in the offense to take advantage of individual strengths?
8) The Air Raid isn't known for using a tight end much. How did Dykes' change his offense to include and feature the tight end?
9) How was Dykes' relationships with his players? Was he more of a hands-on type of coach, or a hands-off X's and O's type? Is he a dynamic, fiery speeches guy, or more even-keeled?
Seth C: For the rest of the questions, I really don't think I'm qualified to answer. It's a strange dynamic with Leach and his coordinators. I think they all respect him, they all obviously learned something while working for him. I can't think of a coordinator that Leach employed that isn't successful. That's a pretty good track record, but I can honestly say that I didn't know anything about them while they were coordinating the offense at Texas Tech. From formations, to scheme, to adjustments. That was always on Leach.