Bo’s Bits - Dykes Family Brings Rich Coaching Tradition

By Bo Carter, www.armedforcesbowl.com

There have been many famed father and son combos in college football, according to the Intercollegiate Football Research Association.

Some of the more notable names have been the Bowdens (NFF College Hall of Fame coach Bobby and sons Terry and Tommy), who have amassed a record 637 composite victories over their college caching careers, the Shula family, the Stagg family, and the Holtz family, and the Tressels, among others.

Now add the football-famous Dykes family national coaching tree as California head coach Sonny Dykes brings his California Golden Bears to meet Air Force on December 29 in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl at Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Stadium.

Popular Texas Tech head coach and gridiron storyteller Spike Dykes started the progression in 1986 when he took over as head coach of the Red Raiders prior to the 1986 Independence Bowl against Ole Miss when coach David McWilliams accepted the same position at Texas.

Sonny Dykes, Spike’s son, continued the family tradition with his first head coaching post at Louisiana Tech in 2010 after serving for 16 seasons as a college and high school assistant coach. And add in Rick Dykes, now a successful automobile executive in Texas after working in the football assistant coaching ranks at New Mexico, Rice, Temple, and Texas Tech for all or parts of three decades.

And the Dykes football family “tree” includes some sterling accomplishments.

Spike Dykes guided Tech to bowl eligibility for seven consecutive seasons - a first in school history - and to a quin-Southwest Conference championship in 1994 and the team’s first trip to the now-Goodyear Cotton Bowl since the 1939 season. The elder statesman helped Tech make the transition to the Big 12 Conference prior to the 1996 campaign and actually coached in the first Big 12 standoff at Manhattan, Kan., in August 1996 against Bill Snyder and the Kansas State Wildcats.

Ironically, Sonny Dykes was a first baseman on the Texas Tech baseball squad from 1989-1993 while staying in touch with his dad at nightly dinner table confabs and at as many football practices as the son could attend. Sonny’s mind was with baseball, but his heart gravitated him back to the other sport he had grown up with – football.

Sonny began in the high school ranks at Richardson (Texas) Pearce High School in 1994 and later worked at Navarro (Texas) College, Northeast Louisiana (now ULM), Kentucky, Texas Tech from 2000-2006 under then-Tech head coach Mike Leach (who has opposed the Cal coach while guiding Washington State’s program since 2012) with seven consecutive bowl appearances, and Arizona as offensive coordinator from 2007-2009 before he accepted the head coaching position at Louisiana Tech in 2010.

Both Spike and Sonny have been noted for their innovative coaching techniques, and though Spike’s background was primarily in defense (though he coached the offensive line at Mississippi State in 1979 and earlier at New Mexico), they both enjoy a high-scoring tussle.

In fact, Sonny’s teams (starting with his assignment as offensive coordinator at Arizona in 2007) have made marked improvement over previous years with pro-style and spread formations to keep defenses on their heels.

Sonny Dykes realizes the challenge of stopping an Air Force ground attack at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. No team in the Pac-12 Conference runs the oval as often or as well as coach Troy Calhoun’s triple option offense for AFA.

“We haven’t seen anything like it,” Sonny Dykes noted.

But he also expressed gladness that the Dykes extended family will spend Christmas together in Fort Worth, and the wit and wisdom of Spike Dykes will keep family and the public in stitches.

“Oh, yeah, he will be there for the whole thing,” Sonny stated. “I’m sure he will attend some things invited or uninvited, but we’re looking forward to being with the whole family. It’s great to come back to Texas (Sonny was born in Big Spring, Texas, in 1979) and play in a bowl game.”