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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Dykes a pretty good fit with Horned Frogs

by Wally Hall | January 8, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

Sonny Dykes is breathing rarefied air.

The first-year head coach of the TCU Horned Frogs closest encounter to a college football championship as a head coach was probably with his remote.

A truly likable, aw-shucks sort of guy in an era when too many coaches are cold and impersonal.

The unlikely adventure for Dykes and TCU has landed them in Monday night's College Football Playoff Championship Game against the Georgia Bulldogs, the defending national champs and 14-0 this season.

The Dawgs are a 121/2-point favorite over the Frogs and probably for good reason.

Although the Frogs aren't exactly Cinderellas in this game or on the college football scene.

Sure, when the old Southwest Conference merged with the Big 8, TCU was left behind. The Big 12 didn't want any private schools and were being forced to take Baylor for political reasons.

The Frogs landed in the Western Athletic Conference for five seasons. When Gary Patterson was hired to replace Dennis Franchione, TCU moved to Conference USA for four years and then the Mountain West for seven years before being invited to join the conference they should have been in from day one.

The Mountain West was probably glad to see the Frogs leave. Patterson was 77-13 and TCU was consistently in The Associated Press Top 25, including a No. 2 finish in 2010.

During the first 10 years in the Big 12 under Patterson the Frogs were mostly competitive, winning the league once, finishing second twice and playing in bowl games seven times.

After the 2017 season and an 11-3 record, including a payback over the Arkansas Razorbacks who had upset the No. 5 ranked Frogs the season before, things started sliding. Last season, the wheels came off when Patterson resigned with a 3-5 record after being informed he would not be returning.

Apparently, the TCU bosses already had their eye on Dykes, although the Horned Frogs claimed there were four other coaches on their short list.

Dykes didn't play college football, one of only two at a Power 5 school (Hugh Freeze at Auburn is the other), but he grew up with it. His dad, Spike, spent 13 years coaching high schools as an assistant and head coach in Texas before becoming an assistant for Darrell Royal at Texas.

Incidentally, Patterson is now an assistant at Texas.

Spike spent seven years as a college assistant, went back to the high school ranks for two years, before landing the offensive coordinator's job at Texas Tech and two years later was promoted to head coach.

Spike retired in 1999, the same year his son went to work for Hal Mumme at Kentucky where he became close friends with Mike Leach.

Dykes spent seven years as a head coach at Louisiana Tech and California where he was fired and spent some of the 2017 season as a football analyst for TCU. When Chad Morris was hired at Arkansas, it was Dykes who coached SMU in the Frisco Bowl and was retained as the head coach.

Another incidental item: Rhett Lashlee, a former Razorback and native of Springdale, is now the SMU head coach.

Dykes was 30-18 at SMU and was 71-63 overall as a head coach when he took the freeway to his new job in Fort Worth.

Somehow the mellow Dykes mended a team that had been in disarray and swept through the regular season undefeated before losing in overtime to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game but was still ranked No. 3 in the final FBS poll.

The Frogs beat a good Michigan team to get to Monday night's game, and they are like their head coach, there because they earned it. No one gave them anything.

Print Headline: Dykes a pretty good fit with Horned Frogs


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