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Golden Nuggets: Sonny Dykes Discusses the Qualities That Make a Successful Head Coach

Sonny continues to emphasize simplicity in his approach to preparing his teams.


Sonny Dykes recently filled in for his OC Tony Franklin, who was set to give a talk at the American Football Coaches Association's convention this past weekend. Dykes talked at length about the qualities that make a good head coach. He listed nearly 20, but here's a small sample (if anyone knows where I can find the rest, please let me know).

- Morale is critical. Dykes told the story of this year's Louisiana Tech team, which started 9-1 and finished 9-3. Louisiana Tech had gotten to 9-1 behind one of the nation's top-ranked offenses and lowest-ranked defenses. Through 10 games, Dykes knew his team had issues forming between the offense and defense, and that his defense was losing confidence in itself. Despite knowing that, Dykes mistakenly did not want to rock the boat of a 9-1 team, and the Bulldogs dropped their final two games. Next time, he won't be afraid to changes things when change is necessary.

- Short practices. Dykes' teams are never on the field for more than two hours, and by the end of the season sometimes practice as short as 40 minutes.

- Execution is much more important than scheme. Dykes relayed an anecdote from when he served as a GA under Hal Mumme at Kentucky. The Wildcats had spent all August practicing two scripts, one 11 plays long and the other eight-plays long, with some situational plays (third-down, goal line, etc.) thrown in. For Kentucky's season opener against Louisville, Mumme brought just the eight play script, two third down plays and some goal line plays, bringing the total to 14. Running nothing but those 14 plays, Kentucky scored touchdowns on its first seven possessions.

- Don't let it become all business. Dykes said that his teams try to have fun whenever possible, and that he has his staff do something to lighten the mood every day

Even if I am in "wait and see" mode for this team, I can't help but be excited every time I hear him talk about leading the program. Although I do wonder what impact these short practices have on the defense's ability to prepare adequately for the next opponent...