What might have been.
(If I have to write another one of these next week I’m going to be really upset.)
Wow. That came out of nowhere. I guess Sonny Dykes really got the head coaching bug when he expressed interest in the Texas Tech job. I worried when Jim Livengood went to UNLV and started looking for a football coach. I was concerned until Tuberville was hired at Tech and he had his offensive coordinator in place. Then I thought we were in the clear.
The Bulldogs have only had three winning seasons in the past decade. The last LA Tech coach to stay longer than four years and post a winning record retired in 1978. Yes, you can get to BCS bowl games from the WAC. But the league features a bully on blue turf that doesn’t look to be giving up its spot at the top of the heap any time soon.
Dykes will have to go great lengths to get his team a conference championship. Figuratively and literally. As the easternmost member of the Western Athletic Conference LA Tech has to travel 1,500 miles to Boise State, 1,700 miles to San Jose State, and 4,000 miles to Hawaii. Heck, they’re a full Texas away from their nearest conference foe (New Mexico State). At least Sonny will be killing it in the frequent flier miles department.
We did know this day was coming. Sonny has a head coach’s presence. If Mike Stoops took a job somewhere else Dykes was the guy I wanted to take over here. Whether in Tucson or elsewhere you knew Sonny Dykes was going to be following in his father’s footsteps. Eventually. We just didn’t want “eventually” to mean “right now.”
I thought Dykes would stick around at Arizona two or three more years, make a serious run at the Rose Bowl and then follow Mike Stoops’ example in taking over a rebuilding program in a BCS conference. He’s certainly shown he can rebuild an offense.
The Wildcat offense was dead when Sonny got here. Beyond dead. It had been buried, dug up, and killed again. In the first three years of Stoops’ tenure the Cats scored a measly 15, 23 and 17 points per game, ranking ninth in the Pac-10 each season. In Dykes’ three years the UA averaged 28, 37 and 27 points, and peaked as the third most potent Pac offense in 2008.
Sonny Dykes reintroduced the forward pass to Wildcat fans. Of the ten best games in terms of completions in Arizona history, eight of them happened under Dykes’ watch. Willie Tuitama owns every significant season and career passing record in the books, and he wasn’t even good enough to get an NFL tryout. Sonny knows offense.
And that’s what makes the timing of his departure so painful. Next year’s Wildcat offense is loaded, even without GRON… If we could get 2,400 yards from Nick Foles in Pac-10 play what could we get with a full season? If we scored enough to win eight games with a lot of new starters what could we do when the whole offense comes back?
Now we’re left with question marks. All the players are still here but their system might not be. Is there anyone on the staff capable to keeping everything in place? Is there anyone even left when Dykes finishes building his offensive staff at Louisiana Tech?
The good news is this is a fair more attractive job than when Sonny took over. Back to back bowl games and a head coach with four years left on his contract. A ton of experience on the offensive line and a quarterback in place. Whoever steps into the play-calling role will have every chance to succeed and build his own name.
Fare thee well, Sonny Dykes, and thanks for the memories. Three years weren’t enough but they sure were a great three years. Just leave our assistant coaches and recruits alone.
Goodbye, GRON…I mean, SONN…