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Cal, Sonny Dykes begin contract extension talks to ensure 2016 return to Berkeley

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The Cal football head coach denied all coaching rumors.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

With Cal finally earning bowl eligibility against Oregon State, the university has seen what they needed to see to begin contract negotiations with Sonny Dykes. Athletic director Mike Williams made a firm commitment that Dykes will be back with the program in 2016, so you'd expect some sort of extension to happen pretty swiftly by the end of the regular season.

Here's an official statement from Cal Athletics.

"Sonny has my full confidence and it is our intention to keep him here," athletic director Mike Williams said in a statement. "Three years ago, he took over a program that was not in a good place and in need of significant turnaround and improvement in many areas. Since then, Sonny has done everything we have asked of him. He has turned around football's academic performance and our student-athletes are doing quite well in the classroom at the world's number three university. He has changed the culture within the program and it is where it needs to be. And the team's performance on the field has improved significantly. We have gone from 1 to 5 to 6 wins (and counting) and are now bowl-eligible for the first time since 2011. Sonny is our guy and we plan on him being here."

Dykes also refuted all of the rumors circulated by ESPN and USA Today that he was interested in other jobs. Jeff Faraudo has more on that front.

"This is where I want to be," he said in an interview with this newspaper late last week, when asked to respond to the reports and the questions they raised. "It's where I am. I came here, and it's where I want to be."

...


Williams described his relationship with Dykes as "great," saying it has grown over the past 18 months.

"There's speculation out there he wasn't my guy because I didn't hire him," Williams said. "I think that speculation is misinformed. He's my guy."

Currently Dykes's contract is set to expire in 2017. You can read the nuts and bolts of the contract here (as well as buyout provisions here) thanks to TwistNHook.

If Cal can win a few more games (particularly beating Stanford), I'd expect a solid three to four year extension for Dykes to try and complete the rebuild of the program in his image. If Cal finishes 6-6, it might be a shorter-term extension. But in any case I'd be very surprised at this point if the two sides don't come together for a deal that satisfies all parties. Too much is at stake.

Finally, a note on a controversial remark from Faraudo's article.

"We still have big donors, big football alums, who say 3-9 and 95 percent graduation rate trumps Rose Bowl," Williams said then. "Sonny is accomplishing that. He's on his way to a good record. The thing we're most proud about, the thing that's most important, is the academics. He's getting us there."

A source from the athletic department told me that whether this is the stance of some donors or not, this is not at all the stance of Cal Athletics or the university, and that the department is dedicated to success both on the field and off the field.

Williams was trying to emphasize a point that for many big donors, successful academics is a huge priority. It hastened the end of Jeff Tedford's time at Cal (for one), and the commitment of the new regime to restoring the classroom as a priority has been admirable.

But don't expect the program to tolerate constant losing seasons going forward even if the team is graduating its players. Remember, Cal did only start opening up about contract extension talks the moment the Bears assured themselves bowl eligibility.

All in all, a very successful and happy weekend for Coach Dykes. Here's to a Big Game victory to cap it off.