Category archive: Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
If you have not seen or read Sonny Dykes' name by now, it might be time for familiarization. Dykes, the 42-year-old coach of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, is quickly becoming one of the more buzzed-about names for open or soon-to-be-open coaching jobs. Yes, the college football hot stove season has arrived.
I'd venture to say that Dykes is the No. 1 name to watch in this cycle of the carousel. (Read on for my ranking of the other sitting head coaches and top coordinators who will soon be considered for new gigs.)
While the possibilities for Dykes and others -- Arkansas and Kentucky are among the current vacancies in the country's top conference -- are considered, he still has a job to do.
"You can't worry about that. It's not something you're in control of," Dykes said Tuesday night. "You owe it to your players and Louisiana Tech to put 100 percent of our focus into doing the best we can. There's a time later to think about other things."
Dykes said it's flattering to hear his name surface, although he assigned credit for that to his flourishing Louisiana Tech program and his coaching staff.
When Derek Dooley left Tech for the Tennessee Volunteers, he was 17-20 there, including 4-8 in his third season. Many looked at that, shrugged and said, Well, it's hard to win in Ruston.
Dykes, previously Arizona's offensive coordinator and the son of longtime Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes, didn't see it that way.
"I always thought Tech had potential because it's such a great area to recruit in," said Sonny Dykes, the 2011 WAC Coach of the Year. "On the outside looking in, you thought it would be a good place, just being in Louisiana and [close to] Texas and Arkansas and Mississippi, just the surrounding states play such good football. If you've got a recruiting base, you've got a chance to be good."
Like under Dooley, the Bulldogs went 8-5 in Dykes' second season. But unlike Dooley's tenure, they've built upon that in Year 3.
Louisiana Tech is 8-1. At 19th in The Associated Press poll and 20th in the BCS standings, the Bulldogs are the highest-rated non-AQ program, and their only loss is to 15th-ranked Texas A&M.
Dykes' senior quarterback, Colby Cameron, has thrown 24 touchdowns and zero interceptions in 358 attempts. Senior receiver Quinton Patton is already at 1,000 yards, backing up his 1,200-yard season in 2011.
Offense is pacing the Bulldogs. They're second to Oregon in scoring (52.4 points per game). They needed all of those points, and then some, to try to claw back in that one loss. Texas A&M led 39-13 in the second quarter of the teams' Oct. 13 track meet. Tech came up a two-point conversion shy in a 59-57 defeat. Losing to A&M is far from criminal; everyone on its schedule has, except Florida and LSU (by a total of eight points).
Expect Kentucky to make one of the first pushes for Dykes. Offensive-minded coaches inherently provide a boost to beleaguered fan bases (see: James Franklin at Vanderbilt), and Dykes spent the 1997 and 1999 seasons as an assistant coach at Kentucky.
One subplot: Should Dykes land in the SEC, it could provide for an ironic return for Louisiana Tech offensive coordinator Tony Franklin. Franklin's stay at Auburn lasted only a year and a half before he was fired.
Other current head coaches
With Dykes holding down the No. 1 spot, here is the rest of my ranking of the current head coaches who are most likely to be moving on to bigger and better jobs after the season.
To read Travis Haney's full blog post on the top head-coaching candidates in the nation, you must be an ESPN Insider.