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Sonny Dykes to SMU: Initial analysis

The good and bad that come with this hire.

NCAA Football: California at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

SMU has decided to go with former Louisiana Tech and Cal coach, Sonny Dykes. With early signing day right around the corner, as well as the first bowl game since 2012, SMU needed to move fast. Kevin Sumlin would have been a favorite as he has a strong connection with Texas, and would bring great coaching skills to a great SMU team. But with time running short, and Sumlin most likely wanting to go to the P5, Dykes is still a great hire. Here are some reasons why this hire makes sense, and why it could not work.

The Positives

The first main point is the fact that he knows G5 football. As a former head coach of a G5 team, he is going to know what it takes to win here. He had great success at LA Tech with his final season going 9-3, before going to Cal. I think it is crucial for a coach to understand that the culture of the AAC is much different than the culture at a PAC-12 school. I would assume that he knows how to create a culture at a G5 school after his LA Tech days.

Also, Dykes will be needing to prove himself before going back to the P5. His four years at Cal were extremely disappointing, where he only got one winning season with one bowl win. The other seasons he went 1-11, and 5-7 twice. Thus, there will be absolutely no rush to hire him from SMU, especially when the players are not his guys. Dykes is going to be here for a while, possibly longer than his three years at LA Tech.

Something else that should be kept in mind is that he was on Mike Leach’s coaching staff as a wide receiver coach. The reasons this is important are two-fold: 1. He was able to recruit the Texas area, and 2. He keeps the same offense Mike Leach runs in the air-raid (so offensive recruits will love him). Obviously, the recruiting aspect is the biggest point for a smaller university that gets overshadowed by bigger universities. SMU needed someone with a Texas connection, and got that. This should actually open the door for more recruits as Sonny Dykes still has the P5 connotation to his name.

The last big positive is he coached a quarterback that went #1 overall. While Jared Goff struggled his first year in the NFL, he has blossomed this year. To me, this proves that Dykes is good at bringing out the best in the talent he has. Although highly touted, he was not as big as other recruits being only a four star. This is enlightening because Ben Hicks is playing great at quarterback and his receivers have been dynamic all year long. This gives me hope that Dykes can continue to develop good under-the-radar type guys into stars. He will definitely be given a team with offensive explosion.

The Negatives:

The first big negative, in my eyes, is this is not the splash hire fans were expecting. Like I mentioned earlier, Kevin Sumlin would probably get people pumped up for football next year. While I still think Dykes is a solid hire, Sumlin might have his guys playing with a chip on their shoulder. Long-term this hire will have been the better hire. But in a win now environment, with all the talent this team has, I think Sumlin might have given them the best chance for this year.

The next big negative is the fact that Dykes is not a defensive coach. Let’s face it, this team is bad defensively. If the offense throws up anywhere near 30+ points, the game should be won 90% of the time. The defense had some bright spots, but the overall they were completely inconsistent. Take for example the UCF and Navy games. They allowed 31 points to this year’s best G5 team, but then would lay an egg to a team that passed once the entire game. This happened way too many times this year. Whoever Dykes wants as a defensive coordinator better be exceptional, because this defense is going to need some work done on it.

The last negative is the record at Cal. He did not coach or recruit this season, as he was an offensive analyst for TCU. The last record we have to go off of is a 5-7 season in 2016. SMU has the talent to win the conference in 2018. A mediocre 6-6 season or 8-4 season, is not going be satisfactory. The record at Cal does concern me a tad, especially since it has been a year since he has been on the sidelines.

Overall Analysis:

While SMU’s hire may not be flashy, it is a safe one. With this hire, they have made it clear that they want someone who wants to stay here for more than just one year. Dykes is almost guaranteed not to leave unless he somehow goes undefeated at SMU, but I believe he is going to need some more time before P5 programs start calling for him. The fact that SMU went out quickly, and got their guy before the Frisco Bowl and early National Signing Day is an absolute plus. The offensive production should be similar to this year with him at the helm. He runs the an air raid, up-tempo offense that should produce the same results that Morris was able to produce. The defense is still worrisome though. Dykes will have to get solid defensive coaches to fix up this defense. They essentially got another Chad Morris, just different styles and mentalities. Let’s just hope the Dykes era will bring SMU back to national relevancy. I give the hire a B.


What Grade do you give SMU for the Dykes hire?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    A; Dykes is the right guy for the job
    (26 votes)
  • 34%
    B; Solid hire, only Sumlin would have made me happier.
    (33 votes)
  • 30%
    C; Average hire, could have done a lot better
    (29 votes)
  • 8%
    D/F; This is a bad hire.
    (8 votes)
96 votes total Vote Now