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Sonny Dykes has terrific coaching resume but it will take more than money to get him to Kentucky

Sonny Dykes photo courtesy espn.com

Sonny Dykes photo courtesy espn.com


As the speculation about Kentucky’s next football coach continues, it seems that Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes’ name keeps emerging more and more — and it should.

Dykes, 43, has terrific offensive credentials. He coached tight ends, receivers and special teams in two stints under Hal Mumme at Kentucky and then was Mike Leach at Texas Tech and eventually was Leach’s offensive coordinator. His next stop was Arizona where he was offensive coordinator three years under Bob Stoops and since 2010 he’s been the head coach at Louisiana Tech as he took over when Derek Dooley left for Tennessee. And don’t forget his father is Spike Dyes, the all-time winningest coach in Texas Tech history.

He’s led Louisiana Tech to an 8-1 record this year with the only loss coming 59-57 at Texas A&M. That’s the same Texas A&M that just beat Mississippi State in Starkville. Louisiana Tech won at Illinois and Virginia this season as well as 56-49 at Houston. Last year his team started 1-4, but won seven straight games and got in the Poinsettia Bowl.

This year his team is averaging 52.4 points and 570 total yards per game. However, he’s not just about passing. Louisiana Tech averages 332 yards passing per game but also adds 239 yards per game rushing.

It’s even more impressive considering Tech has had to start a walk-on center and has three walk-on receivers in its playing rotation. But the offense has been superb because quarterback Colby Cameron has thrown for 24 touchdowns and 2,946 yards. He’s thrown 358 passes without an interception.

So what makes Dykes able to revive offenses and win games?

“The biggest thing he does good is the way he deals with people. He builds relationships with players, coaches, coaches’ wives, boosters, people in the community,” said a source who coached with Dykes who asked not to be identified. “He will sit and talk football with a truck driver off the street. His dad was the same way.

“Sonny just gets it and understands it. He knows how to relate to his players really well. He has an open door policy with players, coaches, professors, janitors. He talks to anybody. He also wants his staff to deal with football. He stays out of what his coaches do and lets them coach. He trust his coaches to coach. And that includes defense. He lets his defensive guys make their decisions. He believes in defense, too. He’s not always had a strong defense at Louisiana Tech, but I think he had some injuries this year that hurt him. If he’s the head coach at a school like Kentucky in the SEC, he won’t write off defense.”

Would Dykes be interested in Kentucky? Or would he be more interested in a likely opening at Arkansas? Or maybe Auburn or Tennessee? What about if Tommy Tuberville leaves Texas Tech and that job is open?

“I think he would be interested,” said the coach. “But if he doesn’t think everything is right, he wouldn’t come. He knows he’s having a magical season at Louisiana Tech and odds are he could not make it the next Boise State because average attendance is probably only about 20,000 per game.”

One sticking point — and it could be a big one — at Kentucky could be Dykes’ offensive coordinator, Tony Franklin. He coached at UK with Dykes under Mumme. Franklin was never implicated in any NCAA wrongdoing that cost Mumme his job, but he wrote a book about his time at Kentucky that some UK officials did not like. Since then he’s been offensive coordinator at Troy, Auburn and Middle Tennessee as well as Louisiana Tech. He tutored Neal Brown, the offensive coordinator at Texas Tech now who is being mentioned as well in the UK coaching search speculation.

Franklin would understand if Dykes was told he could not bring him to Kentucky. But would Dykes? How could you want to hire a head coach to revive your program and tell him he could not bring the offensive coordinator who has made his team successful with him?

Some might think money would talk. Dykes signed a contract extension to increase his base salary to $750,000 and keep him at Louisiana Tech through the 2017 season. Phillips makes close to three times that per year and UK likely will offer the next coach even more money.

But money is not what drives Dykes. Winning does.

“He won’t go where he can’t win,” the coach said. “He wouldn’t take a job for $2 million if he couldn’t win or have the things in place he thinks it will take to win. He has the money to do what he wants, and don’t forget that Louisiana Tech will probably offer him more money to stay. He’s going to get some shots at head jobs and unlike a lot of coaches, it will be the chance to win, not the money, that drives him.”

Permanent link to this article: http://vaughtsviews.com/sonny-dykes-has-terrific-coaching-resume-but-it-will-take-more-than-money-to-get-him-to-kentucky/


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  1. Steve Capps

    mumme had the same credentials and he was fired in three years and he count win here look at his coaching record


    he is one of the guys I would like to see at UK.

    Larry my local paper reported that Petrino is interested in the UK job. Do you know if we are really considering him? I would hope not!


    1. larryvaught

      Petrino doesn’t have a job. Look for him to be interested in a lot of jobs. Key is which one offers first

  3. john4uk

    Make Petrino the hire.We know he can win in the SEC,and knows what it takes to build a program.And he may even keep Nord,and Summers on the staff as they were very successful working with him at Louisville.

  4. Love SEC F-Ball

    A lot of guessing about possible Coaches.
    Are we hearing any discussion about the committment from the Administration?
    Anything from our Head Tailgate Co-ordinator – Capiluttiii?
    Any support from the Board?

    1. UKFAN197TONE


  5. Larry Pup

    Hire Petrino! He paid for his mistakes. If he screws this gig up fire him again. He has got to be wanting to put down some roots about now. His calling is coaching football. Also, put is his contract if he has a transgression while coaching at UK he loses his guranteed money, his contract. Guys if we don’t, mark it down, some other big name SEC school looking for a winner will. There will be at least two schools looking for coaches I think after the football season ends. No matter what you say about BP he is a proven winning football coach, and Lord knows we need one real bad. Check out the bleachers if this hire is made. UK won’t have to worry about ticket sales. From that standpoint alone it makes sound business sense.


    As for Petrino’s thoughts on UK during his stint in the Derby City, who could forget these stories from the CC archives.

    “Coach Petrino’s second year, week 2, I am grabbing a package for him from UPS, and he wants it inside his office. I run it up, set it down, and turn to walk off and he says “wait, open it up.” So I turn and open the box and pull out a poster-sized frame with a picture of the Louisville-Kentucky scoreboard from the previous week. He had me hold it up, walk back to the wall, and then yelled for Paul Petrino to come into his office.
    This thing was heavy and I am holding it up and waiting. Paul comes in and they stand at his desk where Bobby reads the score out loud: “Louisville 28, Slapdicks nothing. I ####### love it, those little smurfs didn’t even score a point.” They looked at me and said, “that is what winners do, kick their ###.” He told me to set it down where he could look at it and as I was leaving he grabbed me and said “get used to it, we are going to kick their @@@ every year.”
    Bobby Petrino’s record against UK: 4-0.”

    And of course..

    ‘Coach Petrino absolutely hates UK.
    His first game as head coach for UofL is against Kentucky and in Lexington in 2003. He is already not happy because the game has been delayed for an hour and a half because of rain. It was a back and forth game, but we pulled out ahead in the fourth quarter. We go on a long drive to end the game. We get to UK’s two yard line with I think about 6 seconds left. A timeout is called (I can’t remember which team called it.) UK thinks we are going to kneel it because we already had a lead. This doesn’t happen.
    I worked up in the coach’s box with the headsets that year and I always set up a headset so I could listen to what Coach Petrino was saying. At this particular moment he tells Paul Petrino and the rest of the offensive coaches, “Let’s punch it in on these m-f——s!!” Coach P calls a running play and Lionel Gates runs it in for a TD to end the game.”

    I don’t think he gets hired at UK. I could be wrong, but I just don’t see it.

    1. UKFMLY


  7. Love SEC F-Ball

    Larry, Your comments in Bold lettering tell us his answer.
    Dykes along with all other top prospects will want a committment from the Administration.

    Your source description of Dykes reminds me of someone else!
    -“The biggest thing that he does good is the way he deals with people.
    He builds relationships with …………………”
    -“Sonny just gets it…………….”

  8. Juan4UK

    Thanks for posting those quotes. I think some fans need to be reminded of their Kentucky Pride and realize that there are at least a half dozen great hires out there.

  9. Larry Pup

    Come on guys. It’s a rivalry game. I hate Louisville’s guts. I want UK to bury them every time out. Score at will. Same way with that ugly ass orange UT. BP was coaching UL then. He is a hard nosed coach. Good for him. I don’t hold stuff like that against him. He’ll have that same intensity at UK because Louisville fans, and that one way C-J who writes every negative thing about UK they can about our coaches and players, and Jurich trashed him big time when he left that hell hole. Look at it this way, they hired our traitorous BB Coach and shoved it down our throats, let’s hire their former football coach who they can’t stand now. That would sell tickets quick. All would come to see BP burn, and he can get it done in the win department. You tell me what coach in the SEC has ever showed UK any mercy? I say hire Bobby now.

  10. David C

    Because of his background, Sonny would leave if the Texas Tech job ever opens. We need someone that will stick around and rebuild and that could take a period of three to five years.

    1. Love SEC F-Ball

      I agree – We need someone that will stay long enough to turn it around.
      Petrino’s average stay in the last 28 years is ONLY two years.
      Petrino would not stay more than one year at U.K.

  11. Wes

    Mitch has to get this done or he could be looking for work himself. There is no way he could be so hard headed about this.

  12. Larry Pup

    You may be right “Love SEC F-Ball” about BP leaving in a year. But then again he may have learned his lesson. I say it is worth a shot if UK is serious about football. They have never proven to me that they are, and my fan days go back to Charlie Bradshaw. Remember we had Bear Bryant once and they let him get away. With their history as a football coaches grave yard they need to change the narrative with a bold in your face hire of a proven, winning, former head coach. They will never get Saban, so go for Petrino while he is available. That will give ESPN and that egg sucking Corso something to talk about and put UK in the headlines. Also great football players want to play for great coaches. Petrino will recruit. He’ll make UK a winner, mark it down. and should Mitch hire him and he does just that, we’ll all forget real quick his past behaviour.

    1. RJ

      Big egos never learn….. They know it all.

      1. OldFan

        If this is true, I would like to know how many UK fans picked Pitino to stay at UL for 12 years and probably end his coaching career there. The same can happen with BP if he is truly humbled himself and looked in the mirror.

  13. shinny

    If my memory serves me right there were several offers and several turndowns last time before Barnhart settled on Brooks. I know we don’t want a repeat of that, it was embarrassing!!!!

    1. larryvaught

      were a lot of rejections Shinny

  14. Seymour

    Getting a good coach won’t happen quickly this time either. Petrino won’t stay long enough to finish the negotiations on his own contract and we should not give him the time of day. Mitch will eventually hire some young coach who thinks he is GOD;s gift to football and by the time he realizes that he is not, we will be looking for another coach.

    We are KENTUCKY, we don’t have to settle for inexperienced young coaches who have never won a conference title at any school or at any level. Open up the checkbook and hire a stud who has won in the big leagues and who will be able to recruit 5 star players to UK. If we don’t, we will continue to be the conference doormat and it will be our own fault.

  15. Larry Pup

    Seymour my friend you may be right, but think about this, the SEC team that hires Petrino will be kicking UK’s ass on a regular basis. The smart thing to do is swallow all our self righteousness, let the past be the past, and hire the guy. I am getting to old. I want to see UK in a winning way in football, and this guy can get it done. He has proven that wherever he has coached on the college level. Also, Petrino is not stupid, he must realize he is running out of coaching stops. One more piece of bad press and he is done. I think there is a possibility he would stay at UK for a long time if the current decision makers get serious about fb and made a real commitment to facilities, etc. Like you say we are UK, What have we lost and if he didn’t workout fire him.

    1. john4uk

      Great response Larry Pup. People meed tp face reality,and reality is,Petrino is one of the best coaches in the nation without a job,and to hold what he did at Louisville against him toward UK is rediculas.

      1. RJ

        You said the key words john4uk, “without a job”. And why is that?

        1. Love SEC F-Ball

          Good point RJ !

      2. Love SEC F-Ball

        Can’t limit the search to only those without a job.

    2. larryvaught

      Larry Pup, lot of passion on the Petrino issue. But one thing you noted still stands out to me. Another SEC team will hire him and then UK will have to compete against him and that didn’t work too well when he was at Louisville. Not a big Petrino fan, but if you want to win and win the quickest, hard to not go after the guy who seems best capable of doing that.

  16. big tim

    dykes is 2 -12 aginst teams with a winning record we play a team with a winning record every game i guess that takes him out

  17. clancyhatfield

    Well, if things go bad, he might leave after 8 or 9 games. Yes he would. What then ?

  18. J.T.

    This coaching search should begin and end with BOBBY PETRINO!!

  19. OldFan

    I agree with Larry Pup. The past is the past and move on. Everyone knows BP is the best hire available, but UK will never be a regular winner if the administration does not take chances both on a coach and with making the necessary upgrades. If UK does not do both, we will be back here again in 3-4 years. UK Admin needs to put up or shutup. I am sick of hearing UK Admin keep stating “we will get this corrected” and then keep doing the same stupid mistakes.

  20. grant

    Petrino ! Yes! Ok there are alot on both sides of the line, and rightfully so. I am on the side of hiring him. I view it like this, i am not saying hiring a coordinator , offensive or defensive is a sure sign of failure , who knows , but i will say this- i think its fair to say that if Uk does not initiate some talks with petrinos’ people – we are getting more of what we already know- and that is that the University of Kentucky does not take football serious because there is a PROVEN coach who knows what it takes as a head coach to compete and recruit at the sec level. Who has Uk talked to so far that we know of has coached in the sec , recruited for the sec? None that i know of, ties to the sec yes , head coached no. Is Petrino perfect ? No. Are we perfect ? Was Cal perfect when Barnhart hired Gillespie , apparently not. Give the man a shot to bring this program up . Think of the players he could get.

  21. Larry Pup

    Thanks Larry, I do have alot of passion for UK Football. We as fans deserve better than what we have received over many years of sub-par fb. I appreciate what these other fine fans have said about Petrino. And character does matter. But sometimes I think exceptions need to be made. I just think it needs to be made for the good of UK fb at this particular juncture. Petrino has paid for his mistakes. He has been chastised by the media, fired by the Razorbacks, embarrased his wife and family, and exiled to a life outside of coaching for now, which is his calling. With that said, he is still one hell of a fb coach, and bless God we need one at UK now. Men can change. By the grace of God I did. I just think as a society we need to be ready to forgive. If I am in trouble and I need a lawyer, I would not be to concerned about his character, I would want the best lawyer money could buy. As far as the statments that Petrino hates UK. Some of that was probably true when he was at Louisville. But really the only beef I have with Petrino is that he kicked UK’s ass about five out of six times . I would be real happy if he is our nest fb coach. I believe I could learn to like him alot.

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