Sonny Dykes Hired as TCU Football Coach
By Jeff Wilson
Frogs Today senior writer
FORT WORTH — What transpired for more than a month month and reached its end Nov. 29 hadn’t happened at TCU since late in 2000, and it sure as heck didn’t come with a helicopter ride, Twitter and a 24/7 rumor mill back then.
But for the first time in 21 years, TCU has a new football coach.
Sonny Dykes was introduced as the 31st coach in Horned Frogs history, replacing longtime coach and program icon Gary Patterson after a mutual parting of ways with athletic director Jeremiah Donati on Halloween night.
Dykes, who coached SMU the past four seasons and went 2-1 against TCU, agreed to a multiyear year deal in the ballpark of $25 million, according to a source. The final dollar figure was pending after Dykes prioritized additional money for his staff.
Dykes, 52, said all the right things at his introductory press conference at the Legends Club & Suites inside Amon G. Carter Stadium. The goal is to win big, he said, and his three-pronged plan includes talent acquisition (and retention), developing players with an emphasis on strength and conditioning, and building the right kind of culture within the program.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am for this opportunity,” Dykes said. “Our goal from the very beginning is to play for and win championships. I talked to our players yesterday. This is our standard, to compete for and win championships.”
Dykes and his staff were behind on the recruiting front after TCU lost several commitments following Patterson’s departure. But the coaches who are either coming from SMU or were retained from the 2021 TCU staff quickly hit the road and made their way into recruits’ homes, Dykes said.
He also seems to understand the importance of Name Image Likeness opportunities for players and the pull of the transfer portal that might take players to other programs. Star running back Zach Evans entered the portal the day before he was hired.
“We have to embrace the transfer portal,” Dykes said. “I think it’s a big opportunity for us here at TCU. Name image likeness is also an opportunity as well. I think that with the kind of support this program has, the ties to Fort Worth in the community, I think there’s tremendous opportunity for us to give our players opportunities to earn money and to to align with many of our donors so that when they’re done playing football and their careers are over, the money goes, but the relationships still there. And I think that’s so important.”
Dykes made his first appearance on campus Nov. 28. That night, he was flown into the stadium in a helicopter, which landed at midfield. After being introduced by athletic director Jeremiah Donati, Dykes spoke to a crowd in the east stands before walking over and hitting the horn that sounds after TCU scores.
Donati and the search committee chose Dykes over a field of candidates that included Louisiana-Lafayette coach Billy Napier, Iowa State coach Matt Campbell, and Jackson State coach Deion Sanders.
Donati said the prospective coaches had to meet several criteria, primarily having experience as a head coach. The right candidate also needed to present a plan for recruiting Dallas-Fort Worth, a strength program aimed toward injury prevention, openness to NIL opportunities, an investment in the players and the ability to compete for championships.
“He was far and away the best fit for TCU football and the university,” Donati said.
Dykes leaves SMU going 30-18 and with a 71-63 career mark over 11 seasons at three stops. His first head coaching job was at Louisiana Tech from 2010-2012, followed by a four-year stint at California from 2013-2016.
Patterson and TCU came to a mutual agreement Oct. 31 that he would not complete the season after a 3-5 start. The Frogs went 2-2 to finish the season under interim coach Jerry Kill, and most if not all of the coaching staff was dismissed. Only wide receivers coach Malcolm Kelly and safeties coach Paul Gonzalez.
Patterson, 61, was in his 21st season at TCU’s head coach and amassed a school-record 181 victories. He guided TCU to its highest finish in the final Associated Press poll since their 1938 national championship, finishing second in 2010. He also won six conference championships and had 11 seasons with at least 10 wins.
However, TCU was only 12-15 in the Big 12 Conference from 2018-2020 and were only 1-4 when Patterson exitted.
Quarterback Max Duggan has committed to returning for 2022. He underwent surgery Nov. 28 to repair a broken foot and should be ready for spring practices. TCU has questions on defense, which Dykes said wins championships, and he wants to convince players who might be considering leaving to stay put.
“In today’s world, you have to recruit your current roster,” he said. “You have to start building relationships with those players.”
Dykes can’t wait to get started.
“I’m really, really fired up to be here,” he said. “We have a lot of positive momentum right now happening with guys in our program right now, current players, also recruiting.
“We certainly intend to hit the ground running. We’ve got a great staff that has already done that. We’ve surrounded ourselves with some guys who can build relationships with young people and help motivate them and help them get where they want to go in life. So that’s why we’re here.
“And we intend to be the Big 12 champions and play championships consistently.”
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org