Sonny Dykes is in for a world of difference in moving from Ruston, La., to Berkeley. While working as the offensive coordinator at Arizona from 2007-09, Dykes starting setting his eyes on moving to Berkeley one day. When that one day arrived, Dykes said it kept him up at nights.
Dykes continually referenced two themes throughout his introductory press conference: finding players and coaches that will fit the culture at Cal, and creating a healthy marriage of academics and athletics.
“I believe there’s a direct correlation between having academic success and athletic success,” said Dykes. “We will have the highest expectations on the field and in the classroom. This is what Cal demands from its student-athletes.”
Dykes circled back to the word fit multiple times, hoping to find players and coaches that will mesh with a culture unique to many places across college football.
“I’m a big believe in fit,” he said. “Certain people fit certain places, and our duty is to find student-athletes that fit the culture at Cal.”
Dykes detailed his vision for what Cal’s offense will look like, saying his ideal quarterback will be a mobile guy that can run the ball 8-to-10 times a game.
“Our brand of football is fun. We’re going to move the ball and score points,” Dykes said. He also noted that, unlike Texas Tech, his offense focuses just as much on moving the ball on the ground as it does through the air. His 2012 Bulldogs team famously threw for more than 350 yards a game, but also an average of 43 times for 227 yards a game.
Hoping to have his staff finalized within the next 10-to-14 days, Dykes stated that his most important task will be finding a defensive coordinator.
“I have four or five names in mind that I want to interview,” Dykes explained. “One week you may play Stanford, one week you may play Oregon. We have to be prepared to play both styles.”
Among the first questions Dykes fielded from the assembled press was about the defense he left behind at Louisiana Tech, which finished the 2012 season ranked last in the country in total defense.
“Obviously I know it’s something that needs to be addressed,” Dykes said, citing that his 2011 team led the WAC in scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense.
Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour declined to elaborate when asked about Dykes’ contract or on a potential salary pool for assistant coaches, only saying that, “Sonny and I are working together to provide the resources to bring the best college football staff to Berkeley.”
If the rest of his tenure as the Bears head coach mirrors his press conference, Dykes’ time as Cal’s head coach will focus on much more than just football.
“There’s a dedication to excellence in everything that Cal touches,” Dykes said. “This is a very special institution and I’m blessed to be a part of it.”