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SAN FRANCISCO

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."

On having three unproven quarterbacks: "The defining characteristic for winning the job will be, 'Who do we think gives us the best chance to win and what is that?' I don't know. That's the funny thing. Sometimes it's Tim Tebow, a guy that breaks seven tackles. Other times, it's a guy that goes in and manages the game and doesn't turn the ball over. It just depends."

On whether he'd use two starting quarterbacks: "I've said it before and it's true in a lot of ways. If you have two, it means you really have zero. If you have two guys, it stunts the growth of both of them."

On his appreciation for Pac-12 football: "Football's football. It doesn't matter geographically where it is. When you're in the South, you think that football was created by people in the South and can only be played by people in the South. (California) kids are tough, they're well coached. They're passionate about the game."

On running back Brendan Bigelow, who may be a big part of the offense: "There's some unknowns, but you don't have to watch many plays to see he's pretty dynamic with the football. You talk to our strength and conditioning coaches. They say this guy's pretty special. What does that mean? I don't know."

On the idea that Tedford's playbook was too complicated for Bigelow: "Our whole emphasis is always on speed. We want to do everything fast. We want our players to think fast, react fast and play fast. We want to recruit fast kids. We want to transition fast. When guys are thinking and unsure, that results in them being a step slow. By design everything's pretty simple."

On offensive coordinator Tony Franklin: "He'll call the plays. I'll do a lot of the situational stuff — 'We've got the ball at midfield. It's third and 7.' I'm going to tell him, 'Hey you've got two downs,' that type of stuff. There are times I'll say, 'Let's run the ball here. Take a shot here.' It's more game management than specific plays. We've been around each other 16 years, which is a big deal."

Does Franklin make the same decisions as Dykes? "If it works, I would have made it."

On the media horde that converged on him Monday: "I was the only guy really covering my team at Louisiana Tech. We had a beat writer that never came to practice. He was a great guy, but he never came to a practice in the time I was there."

On the positive reception he's received from fans and media: "It's all puppy dogs and rainbows right now."

What kind of college student was Dykes? "Sonny the coach would have probably hated Sonny the student."

On his salary — $9.7 million for five years: "People always freak out about coaches' salaries. I would like to take a professor's salary and get tenure. Anytime anybody wants to do that with me I'll do it. I'll take their salary and get tenure and coach the football team for the next 40 years. Take a six-month vacation every year and I'd have a hell of a life."

So, we conclude Sonny Dykes certainly can talk. Now, can he create an era?

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For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.