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Sonny Dykes’ mediocre Cal run gave no clue to success he is discovered at TCU

This is a query you’re prone to hear within the subsequent two days:

Why did Cal fireplace soccer coach Sonny Dykes once more?

This comes up as a result of, as you’ll have observed, Dykes is at present the toast of faculty soccer. In his first yr as coach, his Texas Christian College crew has put collectively an unlikely, long-shot run that makes Cinderella seem like a slam dunk.

The Horned Frogs – gotta love the nickname – are 13-1 and Monday evening will play Georgia for the nationwide faculty soccer championship.

TCU, which was simply 23-24 within the 4 years earlier than Dykes was employed, are a 12-point underdog to Georgia. However they have been seven-point ‘canine to Michigan within the semifinal and so they received that one 51-45.

So yeah, there’s a cheap likelihood that Dykes might win the nationwide championship. Which, as an I-told-you-so second to Cal, the one faculty that ever fired him, has to really feel fairly candy.

Since it’s sure to come back up, it is value having a look on the tangled story that was Dykes’ time at Cal. There is definitely been loads of hypothesis. Jake Curtis, who covers Cal Sports activities for SportsIllustrated.com, did a deep dive final month. He got here up with some good theories, which I might prefer to riff on a bit.

However it additionally appears that as many deep thinkers have taken a stab at this, nobody has figured it out utterly.

Why would Cal, which simply gave Dykes a four-year contract improve the yr earlier than, abruptly dump him? And, by the best way, why do it six weeks after the earlier season ended, apparently blind-siding Dykes.

As he stated in a message to his gamers on the time, “I’m as stunned as you all in regards to the information right now.”

So what occurred?

Effectively, he was dropping, for starters. Let’s get that on the market.

In 4 years he solely had one successful season. That yr, 2015, the Bears went 8-5, went to a bowl and Dykes received his four-year, multi-million-dollar contract extension.

However the subsequent yr they slumped to 5-7, and the Cal Mind Belief determined they might do higher. In spite of everything, the earlier coach, Jeff Tedford, had been profitable. (Till 2012, when Tedford went 3-9 and was fired.)

So Dykes was dropping.

However in off-the-record conversations with Cal insiders who have been there when Dykes was the coach, one level saved arising. “Cal,” one stated, “is a tricky place to win.”

They cited the excessive lecturers, quirky campus and fair-weather followers. It isn’t a gung-ho soccer faculty. Extra of a ho-hum. And that’s turning into extra true now that gamers can switch to a different faculty on the drop of a helmet.

As everybody agreed, Dykes’ groups had no downside transferring the ball. He caught true freshman Jared Goff in at quarterback, and though the child took some lumps in his first yr, by 2015 he was directing a high-powered offense that ranked within the high three within the league for 3 straight years.

Goff went to the NFL after his junior yr, was drafted No. 1 total by the Rams, and is beginning for the rising Detroit Lions.

To interchange Goff, Dykes satisfied Davis Webb to switch. Webb additionally thrived within the Dykes unfold offense. He was drafted within the third spherical and is at present a backup QB for the Giants.

Nevertheless, as everybody additionally notes, within the Dykes years Cal was taking part in no protection no matter. Curtis notes that, in his first season, the Bears D gave up probably the most passing yardage within the historical past of Division I soccer.

But when the Cal Devoted weren’t proud of the protection, Dykes might not have been proud of the ambiance. As somebody who was there on the time stated, Sonny was a great ol’ man from Texas who by no means felt snug at Bezerkley and likewise did not assume he received the credit score he deserved.

True Blues grumbled that Dykes appeared to be sending out his resume so much, reportedly speaking to as many as 5 faculties about turning into their head coach.

At Cal, they like head coaches like legendary Joe Kapp, who known as it probably the most fantastic place on earth and rhapsodized in regards to the rarified air of Strawberry Canyon.

There have been additionally considerations that the dropping seasons is perhaps entertaining, however they have been having monetary penalties. A 2017 Phil Matier and Andrew Ross column within the Chronicle stated season ticket renewals dropped 30% in 2017, a lack of some $2 million.

However if you happen to needed to economize, possibly you should not fireplace the soccer coach with three years left on his contract. Cal needed to pony up over $5 million to purchase Dykes out.

However they did it, including in an announcement that they needed “a head coach in place who’s totally dedicated to our program and our college.”

And on that snarky observe, Dykes left.

After a brief cease as an assistant, he landed the pinnacle teaching job at Southern Methodist College and presided over a exceptional turnaround. In 4 years he went 30-18 and went to 4 bowl video games.

This yr he took over TCU, which had gone 5-7 the yr earlier than. To the astonishment of almost everybody, the Horned Frogs are actually taking part in for the nationwide title.

Now, we should always level out that Dykes is the primary to say that he could not have accomplished it with out the brand new liberal switch guidelines. In all, he introduced in 13 gamers, a few of them game-changers. So TCU is making full use of the switch portal.

Sadly, otherwise, so is Cal. It was just lately introduced that beginning quarterback Jack Plummer shall be transferring out of this system. And final week J. Michael Sturdivant, a blue-chip recruit and the main receiver final yr as a freshman, additionally introduced he’s leaving.

That is sort of how issues have been going. Cal received its loyal Berkeley man – Justin Wilcox is so all-in that he turned down a plumb job at Oregon, his alma mater de él, to remain. And the protection has improved.

However since taking on for Dykes, Wilcox is 25-29 and has three consecutive dropping seasons.

Once more, it is a robust place to win, however this isn’t how Cal thought this was going to go.

After firing Dykes, Athletic Director Mike Williams stated in an e-mail to donors, “We consider {that a} teaching change will reinvigorate Cal soccer, stimulate lagging ticket gross sales and renewals and energize our alumni, donor and fan base.”

That is a quote that didn’t age effectively.

Contact CW Nevius at cw.nevius@pressdemocrat.com. Twitter: @cwnevius

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