TCU has hired SMU's Sonny Dykes as its next head coach, the program announced on Monday. Dykes will join the Horned Frogs after five years as coach at SMU, where he led the Mustangs to a 30-17 record including the program's first 10-win season since 1983.
Dykes, 52, had been considered the favorite from the beginning to earn the TCU job after the Horned Frogs parted ways with longtime coach Gary Patterson on Oct. 31. He is the first coach since the Southwest Conference folded to hold a winning streak against rival TCU after a 42-34 win on Sept. 25.
Prior to his time at SMU, Dykes served as coach at Louisiana Tech (2010-12) and Cal (2013-16). He led Bulldogs to a 17-8 record in his final two seasons and Cal to its first bowl win in seven years behind No. 1 NFL Draft pick Jared Goff in 2015. Dykes was fired the following year after receiving an extension, however.
After his firing from Cal, Dykes, the son of former Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes, spent one year at TCU as an offensive analyst. He also coached under Hal Mumme at Kentucky, Mike Leach at Texas Tech and Mike Stoops at Arizona before getting his first head coaching job with Louisiana Tech.
So what does Dykes bring to the TCU program as he steps into the shoes of the legendary Patterson? Here are some key takeaways as the Horned Frogs have tabbed their next coach.
Dykes brings a transferrable model
When Dykes arrived at SMU in 2017, he found a program that struggled to take advantage of its greatest advantage -- the Dallas-Fort Worth area. One year later, Dykes brought in Arlington native Shane Buechele at quarterback, built a massive marketing campaign around Dallas players on the roster and the rest is history.
Since then, SMU has become the destination for former Metroplex players to transfer back home, including blue-chips like quarterback Tanner Mordecai, cornerback Jahari Rogers and defensive tackle Mike Williams. SMU even has two top-200 recruits from nearby Garland committed in 2022.
With strong positioning in the targeted area, TCU has the potential to achieve even more with the strategy. Numerous blue-chip players come from the DFW Metroplex, and TCU has the stature to compete with anyone for recruits or transfers.
Assistants will make this hire
Dykes has been on the cutting edge of hiring great Texan assistants during his time at SMU. Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee had so much success that Manny Diaz poached him at Miami. Defensive coordinator Kevin Kane was hired as assistant head coach at Illinois. Defensive line coach Randall Joyner left for Ole Miss, while cornerbacks coach Kevin Curtis is now at Baylor.
Two of Dykes' best hires will now be top targets to head across the Metroplex. Assistant head coach and running backs coach Ra'Shaad Samples is a rising star in the profession. The son of legendary Duncanville (TX) coach Reginald Samples, Ra'Shaad, 26, is seen as one of the best Texas recruiters in the nation. Offensive coordinator Garrett Riley has kept the Ponies' offense on track through a coordinator change. The brother of Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley has SMU ranked as a top-15 offense in the nation.
Both Samples and Riley will almost certainly receive consideration for the head coaching job at SMU with Dykes' departure, not to mention other Power Five opportunities. Dykes keeping them in the fold would be a coup. Regardless, Dykes has hired extremely well during his time at SMU.
The timing is critical
TCU opted to fire Patterson after more than 20 years with the program as the Horned Frogs fielded perhaps their worst overall team since joining the Big 12. The program needs a quick turnaround as the league prepares to welcome in four new members by 2023.
The Frogs' early success in 2014 after joining the Big 12 helped set TCU up as one of the conference's premier programs for nearly a decade. TCU ranks only behind Texas and Oklahoma in the 247Sports Talent Composite, and won a share of the Big 12 in 2014 while finishing ranked in the top 10 three times.
The Horned Frogs have not finished with more than seven wins since 2017, but Dykes enters a situation much better than the one he took over at SMU in 2017. Getting TCU back into the 10-win conversation -- and back on top of the Battle of the Iron Skillet -- would put the program in a strong position heading forward.