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Golden Nuggets: Sonny Dykes Has "A Great Conversation" With Jeff Tedford

Uncle Ted talks to the Bears' head coach about his interview with Sandy and a recent conversation he had with Jeff Tedford.


Uncle Ted recently spoke with Sonny Dykes about everything from the interview/hiring process to his choices for assistant coaches to his brief but successful stint recruiting for Cal. Dykes even reached out to Tedford to talk about the unique aspects of the program.

Athletic director Sandy Barbour talked about how you had a great interview. What do you think so impressed her?

Dykes: That's all about connecting with someone and having a shared vision. I think Sandy and I share the same vision. It all begins with understanding what Cal is and what the culture is and realizing it's a positive and not a negative. The fact that it is the No. 1 academic institution in the US, we view that as a positive, while some view it as a negative. I think it all started there. We shared the same vision in how we want to build the program and how we want to deal with people. How we are going to build this thing to reach its potential. I think that is the biggest thing you do when you interview for a job. A lot of it is, you get a feel for what they are looking for and they get a feel for who you are. If the two match, it's a great marriage. I liked Sandy personally when I met with her. I was impressed with her vision for Cal. To me, I walked away from the deal going, 'I'd like to work for her. I'd like to work at this institution.'

Have you reached out to Jeff Tedford?

Dykes: I have. We've spoken. We talked about the uniqueness of Cal and the challenges that are here and also the opportunities. Jeff did a remarkable job with this program. He brought this thing so far and did an incredible job. It would be a bad decision on my part not to get his input. And it's like anything else: What would you do differently? What would you do if you had a chance to do it over again? Jeff was great. Jeff loves Cal. He loves the people here. Jeff obviously loves the players. It was a great conversation.

From what you gathered from him and from what you've heard from folks around the program and from your own assessment since you've been hired, what do you feel like went wrong, as far as the program falling off from its early surge under Tedford?

Dykes: I think it was a variety of things. First of all, it's hard to sustain success in college football. Just look around the country. In good, competitive leagues like the Pac-12, it's hard to sustain something for 10 to 12 years. It's difficult to do. You're going to have your highs and lows. I think it all begins there. Then the other stuff, there are things that are unique to this situation. The thing we have to do is look forward and learn from the mistakes that might have been made in the program. Like I said, Jeff took this thing a long way and really built this thing. I think he did a good job. The thing we've got to do is address the academic side of it quickly and get that part fixed. I think there is a correlation with that. Jeff's best teams were probably the teams full of the best students as well. Looking from the outside-in, I think that's a good lesson for me.
You're going to have a quarterback competition this spring. That's obviously a big deal anywhere, but QB play has been a problem of late for Cal. What are the key things those guys need to do to impress you and win the job?

Dykes: The biggest thing is be productive. When they get their opportunities, move the offense, scoring points, protect the football and be a leader. Those are the things we'll judge those guys on. Who can command the attention of the team? Who does the team have confidence in? Who's the most productive? We're not big on 'This guy has the most potential. This guy has the biggest arm.' That stuff doesn't matter to us. We're most interested in who can complete the passes to our guys and who can get first downs. Who do the guys believe in? And who takes care of the ball? That's what it comes down to these days, how you win and lose football games. Turnovers. You take care of the ball you win. You don't, you lose.