Report: TCU set to introduce SMU’s Sonny Dykes as new coach

Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
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FORT WORTH, Texas — Sonny Dykes is set to be introduced as TCU’s new coach after four seasons at SMU, according to a person familiar with the decision.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because there were no official announcements from TCU or SMU amid numerous reports citing unnamed sources that Dykes would be the Horned Frogs’ new coach. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram was the first to report plans for Dykes to be formally introduced.

TCU said only that a news conference was scheduled on campus “for a major announcement regarding the TCU football program.”

Dykes’ return to the other side of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is a much-anticipated move. The son of former Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes had been considered a top candidate for the Frogs job since Gary Patterson and TCU mutually agreed Oct. 31 to part ways with four games left in the season.

Patterson, the school’s winningest coach with 181 wins, was in his 21st season. The Frogs finished 5-7 after splitting the final four games under interim head coach Jerry Kill.

After SMU’s regular-season finale at home Saturday, Dykes thanked the school’s administration for a great four years, thanked players for their efforts and said he hated the way the season ended, though it’s not over for the bowl-bound Mustangs (8-4).

“I just couldn’t be more proud of our players. They’ve had to fight through a lot of stuff,” Dykes said after the 34-31 loss to Tulsa. “It hasn’t been easy this week and certainly not in the last 48 hours, but I told them in the locker room how much I appreciated their efforts and the way they handled things. I love those guys.”

Dykes then declined to answer when asked directly about the TCU job, responding, “We’re not talking about that right now.”

Previously the head coach at California and Louisiana Tech, Dykes worked during the 2017 season as a special offensive assistant at TCU in an off-field role for Patterson. He became SMU’s coach when Chad Morris left for Arkansas at the end of that regular season.

Dykes was 30-18 with the Mustangs, overseeing the program’s best stretch of success since returning in 1989 after being the only team ever to serve the NCAA’s so-called death penalty.

The Mustangs went 5-7 in Dykes’ first full season in 2018 after an 0-3 start. Then with an influx of transfer players, most of them returning home to North Texas like quarterback Shane Buechele, SMU started 8-0 in 2019 on way to a 10-3 record. The Mustangs then won their first five games in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and finished 7-3.

SMU started 7-0 this season before losing four of the past five games. The Mustangs recognized 32 seniors before the Tulsa game.

TCU had its third losing season in six years, after only two the previous 18 seasons. That 24-season span included Patterson’s three years as defensive coordinator before his promotion when Dennis Franchione left at the end of the 2000 regular season to become Alabama’s coach.

While TCU did a nationwide search, athletic director Jeremiah Donati had familiarity with the coach at the school about 40 miles away that fit the primary requirements set out for Patterson’s replacement.

Dykes was a current head coach, and one who understands the changing climate of college football such as name, image and likeness, and the transfer portal. Donati also had indicated his desire to find an offensive coach.

The Mustangs averaged 39.7 points and 483 total yards over 35 games since the start of the 2019 season. They had 595 total yards (350 rushing, 245 passing) in a 42-34 win at TCU earlier this season. The two schools play annually, with next year’s meeting set Sept. 24 in Dallas.

The 52-year-old Dykes was 22-15 at Louisiana Tech from 2010-12 before going to Cal, where he was 19-30 and had only one winning season in his four years there.

SMU names former OC Lashlee as coach replacing Dykes

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DALLAS – SMU hired Rhett Lashlee as its new head coach Monday, bringing back its former offensive coordinator to replace Sonny Dykes.

Lashlee had been Miami’s offensive coordinator for two seasons after serving as OC for the Mustangs during Dykes’ first two seasons in 2018 and 2019.

Dykes spent the past four seasons at SMU and will be introduced as TCU’s new coach Tuesday, though there have been no formal announcements of him as Gary Pattersons’ replacement from either school.

The 38-year-old Lashlee has been a college offensive coordinator for 11 seasons, at six different schools. He was at Samford in 2011 before serving on Gus Malzahn‘s staffs at Arkansas State (2012) and Auburn (2013-16). Lashlee spent 2017 at UConn before going to SMU.

“As with previous transitions, our process was thorough and competitive. Ultimately, though, our conversations kept leading us back to one man – Rhett Lashlee,” SMU athletic director Rick Hart said. “Rhett’s ability to connect with recruits, his passion and love for his players and his alignment with our vision and values are among the many reasons he has been selected to lead SMU football.”

The bowl-bound Mustangs (8-4) started this season 7-0 before losing four of their past five games. SMU averaged nearly 42 points and 489 total yards a game in 2019 with Lashlee as OC before he went to Miami.

Miami (7-5) averaged 450 yards and 35 points per game during the regular season, including 530 yards in a 47-10 win at Duke in the regular-season finale Saturday.

Ridder does everything for No. 3 Cincinnati in rout of SMU

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CINCINNATI – Desmond Ridder threw three touchdown passes, ran for another score and even caught a TD pass to help No. 3 Cincinnati roll past SMU 48-14 on Saturday.

Alec Pierce had a pair of TD catches for the Bearcats (11-0, 7-0 American Athletic). They extended the nation’s second-longest home winning streak to 26 games and keep alive hopes of becoming the first non-Power 5 team to reach the College Football Playoff.

“We’ve been waiting on playing that complete game,” Bearcats coach Luke Fickell said. “We challenged them before the game and again at halftime. They stepped up and executed.”

SMU (8-3, 4-3) managed 199 yards of offense after averaging 498 through the first 10 games. Tanner Mordecai, the AAC offensive player of the week last week for the fourth time this season, had only 63 yards passing and was sacked three times.

“They lined up and whipped us pretty good,” SMU coach Sonny Dykes said. “When that happens it’s on everybody. We need to coach better. We’ve got to play better. But I give them a lot of credit. Cincinnati looked like a top three team, a playoff team. They certainly made a statement tonight.”

It was an emphatic start to the game for the Bearcats. After Cincinnati forced SMU to punt on its first possession, Ridder found Tyler Scott wide open for a 53-yard scoring pass on the first play from scrimmage.

“We had that play scripted the night before,” said Ridder, who passed for 274 yards. “I knew I was throwing to the post and I saw Tyler running wide open.”

Following a partially blocked punt by Wilson Huber, the Bearcats took over at the SMU 25 and Jerome Ford‘s 4-yard run made it 14-0 with 5:32 left in the first quarter.

“We had one chance earlier in the game, so we wanted to get after it,” Huber said. “I was able to get through the shields and get my hand on it.”

Ford had 20 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown after missing a game due to injury.

After a fumble ended a promising drive for the Mustangs, Ridder scored on a 40-yard keeper on fourth-and-1 to make it 20-0 in the second quarter.

Alec Pierce caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Ridder and the Bearcats led 27-0 at halftime. Pierce had two TD catches.

Cincinnati’s halftime lead could have been larger had it not been for a missed extra-point attempt and two missed field goal attempts, one which was blocked.

The Bearcats forced six three-and-outs in the first half.

“We came out and executed all-around,” said linebacker Curtis Brooks, who had two sacks. “Great game plan from the coaches. We wanted to go out and have some fun.”

RIDDER THE RECEIVER

The play had been in Cincinnati’s playbook for the entirety of Ridder’s career but until Saturday night, it hadn’t been used. When the call was made, not even Fickell knew it was coming. “I’m not sure I would have went along with it,” he said. But it was executed perfectly on the Bearcats’ first possession of the third quarter when Ford took a handoff from Ridder then flipped to Jordan Jones who then passed to Ridder in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown. “We’ve had that play for four or five years now,” Ridder said. “I let the coaches know my hands are certified. I was glad they called it on senior night.”

THE TAKEAWAY

SMU: The Mustangs were without injured receiver Danny Gray who has 803 receiving yards and nine TDs this season, and averaged only 3.5 yards per play. “They didn’t do anything we haven’t seen,” said Dykes. “They didn’t do anything sneaky. They had us backed up early. We had a punt blocked. That hasn’t happened to us in years.”

Cincinnati: Two straight losses dropped SMU from the Top 25 and took some luster off the game for the Bearcats, who needed a signature league win to put alongside beating Notre Dame. But some style points on Saturday couldn’t hurt. “Coach Fick always tells us to keep blinders on,” Bearcats receiver Tre Tucker said. “I have friends and family, but honestly, we know what we’re capable of.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Cincinnati dropped one spot to No. 3 in the poll this week, but more importantly moved up to No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings to stay in the hunt.

UP NEXT:

SMU: Hosts Tulsa on Saturday.

Cincinnati: At East Carolina on Friday.