TCU football coach Sonny Dykes addresses a perception: ‘I don’t know if I’m the nice guy’

By 2030, we may all look back at TCU’s run to the 2022 national title game as one of college sports’ greatest achievements of this century.

Because the system continually tilts, almost daily, against schools like TCU to make it that far.

Sitting in his office overlooking Amon G. Carter Stadium, TCU head coach Sonny Dykes is well aware of the ever-changing obstacle course that is this job, and a standard he set.

With 18 wins in two seasons, Dykes’ spot in the history of TCU football is wedged between the two coaches who won a combined 290 games in 41 years at the university. Based on the power and historical wattage of that 2022 season, Sonny will always have a mention next to the two most significant football coaches in the history of the school, Gary Patterson and Dutch Meyer.

With Gary now down in Waco working as an assistant coach at Baylor, still the strangest sentence written in the last five years, TCU is now firmly Sonny Dykes’ job, and it’s a different one than the one he accepted.

College football has changed that much since he came to Fort Worth late in 2021.

Until some actual rules are implemented for major college sports, specifically the billion dollar world of football, teams such as TCU and so many others are turning into the developmental programs of the Big 10 and SEC. It had always been that way for decades, but nothing like the monopoly-system that favors Texas, Bama, Michigan, and approximately 15 to 20 other “big bank” schools.

On Saturday, TCU finished its third spring season under Sonny with its annual spring game. Will TCU be any good in 2024?

In the day of the flooded transfer portal, you have a better chance of accurately predicting the weather here in the spring than how a college football team will play in the fall. Who knows?

What Sonny does know is that he has something to prove, beginning with proving that his first season wasn’t not a fluke but a miracle.

“For sure, definitely,” Dykes said this week. “We all do in our profession, but especially the highs and the lows that we’ve had here in two years. I definitely feel like I have something to prove.”

Going from 13 wins, a victory against Michigan in the playoff to reach the national title game in Year 1, to a losing record and missing a bowl game in Year 2 reads like a bipolar disorder.

The quiet fear/thought among TCU fans, and college football observers, is that Dykes was the beneficiary of inheriting a loaded roster that all but coached itself in 2022. That this is the classic case of the “Nice Guy Coach” who benefited from having replaced the “Hard Guy Coach.”

“No. 1, I don’t know if I’m the ‘nice guy.’ I don’t know if the guy who was here wasn’t. So I don’t know if that narrative is true in either case,” Dykes said.

There may be a little truth to it. Not enough to explain what happened from 2022 to 2023.

To minimize, or not give, Sonny and his coaching staff credit for that 2022 season is a disservice to the job they all did.

“I think it’s different; we hit a good year in Year 1, we had good players. It was new. It was different,” he said. “I thought we improved some areas of the program we needed to improve. And then I did a poor job of handling the ‘23 team. We never got settled. That’s coaching, and I didn’t do a good job.”

He made some staff changes, and he admits the quarterback position is not settled. He called the position, “questionable.”

No one is sure how a defense that was one of the worst in the nation last year will be this year.

And we still haven’t mentioned how programs like TCU can compete in this current structure of major college football, where the biggest and richest can buy players with almost no restriction. That unless you are one of the big names from the SEC or Big 10, winning a national title in this sport looks increasingly impossible.

“That’s proven to be the case the couple of years. I can see why people would say that,” he said. “I don’t believe that. I really don’t. Those teams have a lot of resources, especially now in the NIL world.

“At the same time there are going to be some programs that I think will have opportunities to flourish as well. The team that spends the most in Major League Baseball doesn’t always have the best team. I think that is going to be the same thing in college football because ‘team’ matters.

“If it’s all about who gets paid the most, the New York Yankees win every World Series. When is the last time they won it?”

That would be 2009.

No one expects TCU to be the Yankees.

It’s Dykes’ job to prove TCU can compete with them.