Sonny Dykes looking for the "fit" at Cal

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday December 06, 2012

Posted by: Chris Vannini on December 6, 2012

With a lot of notable college football programs dealing with coaching vacancies, Sonny Dykes says he targeted Cal from the very beginning.

Dykes was introduced as Cal's head coach Thursday. He replaces Jeff Tedford, who was fired after 11 seasons, including a 3-9 season in 2012.

"I can't really begin to say how special it is to stand here today as head coach at Cal," Dykes said. "I'm truly blown away. I've been in this profession a long time. I've seen a lot of these jobs that have come open, things have happened.

"There were a lot of good jobs, great jobs that were open, and this is the one I was interested in from day one because of the great traditions at Cal, the great challenges that Cal has, but the great resources Cal has, as well."

Dykes is the latest offensive mind to join the Pac-12, which added names like Rich Rodriguez and Mike Leach - one of Dykes' influences - last offseason. But while LA Tech was No. 2 in the nation in total offense, the Bulldogs were last in the nation in total defense.

Dykes made the case that it was him and his coaching staff adjusting to personnel, which he will have to do at Cal.

"Obviously (defense is) something we know we need to get addressed," Dykes said. "The things I can refer to, is our season the year before last, we led the Western Athletic Conference in total defense. What we try to do as coaches, and what I believe is the No. 1 job, is to figure out what you have. What's the personality of your football team? What are your strengths?

"That particular year, were starting a true freshman quarterback and we had a lot of good, young defensive players. So our focus that year was to play great defense, protect the football on offense."

Athletic director Sandy Barbour would not reveal the contract information until it is finalized, and also said Dykes would be given what he needs to hire a good staff, but again didn't give specifics.

As for that staff, Dykes will interview every assistant at Cal and hopes to have a staff in place in the next 10-14 days, but wouldn't say if any would join him from LA Tech. Sources tell that wide receivers coach Rob Likens is expected to join Dykes at Cal.

"Defensively, I think that will be the most important hire that I make, hiring a defensive coordinator that can come in and get to work from day one and get a defense established," Dykes said. "In the Pac-12, you've got to play versatile defense, you've got to be able to adjust. One week you may play Stanford, and one week you play Oregon. Two completely different teams, philosophically, but you've got to be able to be prepared to play against both styles of football."

But the offense is what Dykes has become known for, and he explained that it will be tailored to use the best players on the team. Dykes said the staff will rank the best players at each position, and the offense will try to take advantage of that.

The Bulldogs were No. 4 in the nation in pass offense, as well as No. 18 in rushing offense.

"We're not a true spread option team," Dykes described. "It's not going to be Oregon spread and it's not going to be Texas Tech spread. ... It's a diverse offense that can throw the ball, it can run the ball, it creates matchups. We're real big into running and throwing the ball into good numbers and identifying those things."

For Dykes, things kept coming back to a "fit," and that's what he will use to find success in Berkeley.

"We will be very aggressive in both retaining and continuing to find student athletes that fit Cal," Dykes said. "I'm a big believer in fit. I think that's what leads to success. Certain people fit certain places, and our duty is to go out there and find the best student-athletes that fit the culture of Cal that can succeed both in the classroom and on the football field."



Chris Vannini is the lead writer for and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to

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