Missouri Tigers: Sonny Dykes Emerges as a Head Coaching Candidate


With Mizzou still searching for a head coach, a prominent Pac-12 coach has entered the discussion.

As candidates quickly drop off the board and the Missouri Tigers continue to look for a head coach to replace Gary Pinkel, one coach appears to have come to the forefront of discussion. As KOMU’s Chris Gervino first reported on Tuesday, athletic director Mack Rhodes will interview University of California head coach Sonny Dykes on Tuesday in Denver, Colorado.

While the 46-year-old Dykes has coached the past three seasons in the Pac-12, he’s by no means a “West Coast coach”. Dykes is the son of longtime Texas Tech head coach Spike Dykes, and he served in various assistant capacities as Texas Tech, Kentucky, and Northeast Louisiana (as well as Arizona) before serving as the head coach at Louisiana Tech from 2010 to 2012.

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Dykes has a lifetime 35-38 record as a head coach, and he endured a brutal 1-11 season during his first year at Cal. He had his best record since leaving Louisiana Tech this season, though, leading the Golden Bears to a 7-5 record. It is worth noting, however, that they lost five of their last seven after starting off 5-0.

One point of upside for the Tigers with Dykes is the work that he could potentially do with quarterback Drew Lock, who was ranked as the seventh-best pro-style quarterback in the country by Rivals.com for the 2015 recruiting class, but struggled after being pressed into duty as a true freshman, completing just 49 percent of his passes while throwing for four touchdowns and eight interceptions. (That’s assuming, of course, that Lock doesn’t transfer with the staff that recruited him gone from Columbia).

Dykes, whose expertise is in the passing game, propelled Cal quarterback Jared Goff to new heights in 2015, as Goff threw for 4,252 passing yards, 37 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. He’s widely expected to be the top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft if he declares early. Dykes also had significant success as the passing game coordinator at Texas Tech in 2005 and 2006. In 2005, quarterback Cody Hodges (4,238 passing yards) led the Red Raiders to finish first in the nation in passing yards, and in 2006, Graham Harrell (4,555 passing yards) led an air attack that finished second in the nation.

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In addition, Dykes might be able to bring new recruiting life to his native Texas region, which once was the Tigers’ primary recruiting pipeline but has faded off significantly since Mizzou joined the SEC. He also has experience recruiting in the heartland of the SEC from his time at Louisiana Tech, so he’d seem like a logical fit from a recruiting standpoint.

While he’s an offensive coach, Dykes would likely also be willing to keep things similar on defense at Mizzou. His teams have employed four-fronts throughout his head coaching career, so the Tigers wouldn’t need to undergo radical changes in order to switch to the 3-4 scheme, which has become more popular at many schools in recent years. With that said, it’s unlikely that Dykes would retain any of the incumbent Mizzou coaching staff, so he’d probably be starting from the bottom in terms of schemes anyway.

It’s very reasonable to expect Mizzou’s coaching vacancy will be filled within the next couple days. Incumbent defensive coordinator Barry Odom, who is seen as one of the favorites for the job despite his lack of head coaching experience, has reportedly been offered the head coaching job at his former school, the University of Memphis, and Mizzou will need to decide whether he’s the man for their job before he’s forced to make a decision at Memphis.

Next: Cardinals Sign Catcher Brayan Pena to Two-Year Deal

Check out our Mizzou page for more info as the head coach search continues.