TCU poaches head coach Sonny Dykes from SMU

Kevin Jairaj - USA TODAY Sports

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TCU found its next head football coach and the Horned Frogs didn’t need to look far to find him. Sonny Dykes, formerly the head coach at SMU, and TCU agreed to terms to make Dykes the first head coach since Gary Patterson in the 21st Century. Billy Embody of was first to report. The rumors existed for weeks. 

Roughly 40 miles and 45 minutes, depending on traffic, separate the campuses of TCU and SMU. The Mustangs, led by Dykes, have won the annual “Battle of the Skillet” twice in a row, including a 42-34 win in Fort Worth on Sept. 25. TCU and Patterson, who was the head coach at TCU since 2000, mutually agreed to part ways in late October after a Horned Frogs loss against Kansas State. 

Dykes was named the head coach at SMU prior to the 2017 season. He first became a head coach in 2010 when he was hired at Louisiana Tech to replace Derek Dooley. Dykes guided the Bulldogs to a 22-15 record in three seasons, including a 9-3 record in 2012. He then moved west to become the head coach at Cal after the 2012 season. He was eventually fired in 2017. 

Dykes wasn’t out of work for long. He returned to Texas as head coach of SMU after the completion of the 2017 season. He led the Mustangs to a 5-7 record in 2018, his first full season in charge. SMU would go 10-2 in 2019 and 7-3 in a pandemic-shortened 2020. SMU was back to its winning ways with a 7-0 start to the 2021 season but are 1-3 since a loss at Houston on Oct. 30. 

While SMU was rising under Dykes, TCU began to crumble. On-field performance and recruiting rankings dropped in the final years of Patterson. SMU was 30-16 in the four years under Dykes’ direction. TCU was 23-23 during that span. Take away 2018, the first season for Dykes at SMU, and SMU won nine more games in the last three seasons than the Horned Frogs. 

Recruiting rankings paint a similar picture. The 2017 class was the last for SMU without the influence of Dykes and it ranked 80th in the country. TCU’s 2017 class ranked 28th. SMU signed the 51st best class in 2021. TCU’s was 53rd. Currently, SMU sits at 56th nationally in the 2022 class with 11 commitments while TCU holds just five pledges in a class ranked 89th in the country. 

TCU needs a jolt, and Dykes can hit the ground jumping. He knows how to recruit the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and he knows how to entice local transfers back home. Billboards of SMU players in their hometowns remind residents of that in every corner of the region. The TCU brass want that same buzz in Fort Worth. Dykes will finish his SMU tenure by coaching against Tulsa on Saturday. He's reportedly bringing assistant coaches such as Ra'Shaad Samples with him to Fort Worth. 

SMU must now begin a recruiting search, and the Mustangs shouldn’t lack interest. SMU is nestled in Dallas and the American Athletic Conference is ripe for a new power to emerge with Cincinnati and Houston closing in on a Big 12 move. 

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