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.