Former Cal head coach Sonny Dykes is expected to become SMU’s next head coach, replacing Chad Morris, per reports Monday morning.
Later that day came this:
Source: New SMU head coach Sonny Dykes will coach the Frisco Bowl as associate head coach Jeff Traylor will be leaving to take a position under Chad Morris at Arkansas— Adam Grosbard (@AdamGrosbard) December 12, 2017
A new coach taking over for a bowl game is a rare move, but not unprecedented. Usually, the interim hangs on through the bowl as a transition coach while the new guy sets up recruiting and staffing.
Another twist: SMU’s bowl is against Louisiana Tech, the school he left for Cal in 2012.
Last week, Morris accepted the head coaching job at Arkansas.
Dykes spent the last season working with TCU as an offensive analyst.
He was fired from Cal after four seasons last January after the Bears went 5-7 in 2016, and he compiled a 19-30 record during his time there. Dykes has some strong Texas roots, which would make SMU a nice fit:
Dykes’ Texas Tech coaching stint lasted seven years, and he played there before that. Dykes is from Big Spring, Texas, and his coaching career started at the Navarro College in Corsicana. Louisiana Tech is less than two hours from Texas’ eastern border, and Dykes has recruited plenty in the state at pretty much every stop. (That Cal only has seven Texans this year is a bit of a surprise.)
Dykes started coaching wide receivers at Texas Tech in 2000, and he left Lubbock in 2006 after serving two years as the Red Raiders’ co-offensive coordinator. He then spent three years running Arizona’s offense under Mike Stoops before leaving to become the head coach at Louisiana Tech for the 2010 season.
Dykes’ Bulldogs won 17 games in the last two of his three years there, at one point reaching No. 19 in the AP Poll. He was the now-defunct WAC football coach of the year in 2011. Cal hired him away before 2013, and while his inaugural year in Berkeley was a 1-11 disaster, things have gotten a lot better.
With Dykes accepting the SMU job, what Cal owes him from his original $5.88 million buyout for firing him without cause could be reduced significantly, as Cal Golden Blogs pointed out Sunday evening:
This could be potentially fantastic for Cal regarding buyout mitigation, as Dykes’s contract made it clear that getting hired for another job would alleviate the Bears of the need to pay him for the years of unemployment (similar deal with the TCU contract, although obviously Dykes likely got paid much less in that position). SMU’s old coach Chad Morris made an estimated $2 million annum. A similar contract for Dykes would significantly cut into what Cal still owes him.
Dykes’ time at Cal didn’t exactly go as planned, but getting back to coaching in the state of Texas might be just what both him and SMU needs.