Cohn: Will Sonny Dykes' arrival herald start of productive era for Bears?

  • California head coach Sonny Dykes, center, flanked by linebacker Nick Forbes, left, and wide receiver Bryce Treggs, talks to the media during the NCAA college football Pac-12 media day on Friday, July 26, 2013, in Culver City, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)


On Monday, they held the Bay Area College Football Media Day in San Francisco. Sonny Dykes was there. He's the new coach at Cal. In the Cal handout introducing Dykes you could read, "The Sonny Dykes Era begins in 2013."

As you well know, there are eras and then there are eras. Cal hopes the Sonny Dykes Era is a good era as opposed to an eerie era.

Cal's last season was the pits and that put an end to the Jeff Tedford Era, which was a good era until it became a not-so-good era. Dykes was attractive to Cal because he's an offensive wild man. He coached at Louisiana Tech for three seasons, and in 2012 his Bulldogs led the country in scoring offense with 51.5 points per game. That's not merely scoring. That's like watching an overeater stuff his face at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Dykes is 43 and was born in Big Springs, Texas, and graduated from Texas Tech. He has neatly-trimmed hair and bushy eyebrows and when he met the media, he called them "you all."

A week after he got the Cal job, he phoned deposed coach Jeff Tedford, thanked him for his work and said he would make Tedford proud of the players he recruited. He showed the deference one coach owes another.

His impending era faces two immediate obstacles. He currently has three players auditioning for the part of starting quarterback. Not one has taken a snap in a real ballgame. In case you haven't heard, quarterback tends to be a central position in football.

Problem No. 2 is Cal's schedule, which grades out as third-toughest in the country, as in insane. No way to begin an era. Cal plays five teams ranked in the top 20 last season. They open their season Aug. 31 at home against Northwestern, then face Portland State, Ohio State and Oregon. Aside from Portland State, the other three finished the 2012 season in the top 20. Good luck, Sonny.

In spite of all that, Dykes did not froth at the mouth or run from the room shrieking while someone pursued him with a butterfly net. He seemed calm. He is uncommonly honest for a football coach. If you don't mind, I'll devote the remainder of this column to what I call "Sonnyisms" so you can get a sense of Cal football's new head guy.

On the benefits of Cal's killer schedule, assuming there are benefits: "Our weaknesses will be exposed. We'll be able to adjust immediately. If you play three patsies nonconference, then you don't really know what you've got to get fixed. We'll know probably two or three series into that Northwestern game."

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