Jeff Chiu/APGiants left-hander Madison Bumgarner is a big reason the Giants have the best record in baseball.

Jeff Chiu/APGiants left-hander Madison Bumgarner is a big reason the Giants have the best record in baseball.

Sonny Dykes looks to make big splash in first year at Cal

From his first “y'all,” new Cal football coach Sonny Dykes' southern roots were obvious, but he said all the right things at the annual Bay Area college football media day in San Francisco on Monday.

“Southerners think they invented football and they're the only ones playing it,” Dykes said at one point. “But when I look at the NFL rosters, I see a lot of names from this conference.”

Later he named the reasons for coming to Cal: Great area, beautiful campus, great school and a commitment to football as shown by the dramatic remodel of historic Memorial Stadium. Southern schools are not known for educating athletes, but Dykes also professed to see an advantage in Cal's high-academic standing.

“I've found that players who are strongly motivated academically carry that motivation over to football,” he said.

The one note of negativity he uttered was when he noted that his team was very young and the schedule is generally rated the third toughest in the country.

“That's not usually a recipe for success,” he said.

As a longtime observer of Cal football, I know how difficult it is to sustain success in football because other conference schools don't have the commitment to academics that Cal generally has, though there's been a decline recently. USC, a consistent football power, is a notorious “two-track” school, and athletes often choose the lower track. Oregon, which has had some great teams lately, is a mediocre academic school.

My guess is that Dykes won't be expected to have great success immediately, but is expected to have more exciting teams because of his offensive scheme, which led the nation in both scoring and total offense last season.

His offensive success will depend on the quarterback and Dykes said the spring workouts did nothing to separate Austin Hinder, the only one with collegiate game experience, redshirt freshman Zach Kline and true freshman Jared Goff. Dykes said he thought Hinder had strengthened himself, Kline had improved his accuracy and Goff had picked up the offense well, considering his lack of collegiate experience.

As the old saying goes, if you have three quarterbacks, you don't really have one. Dykes hopes to name a starter quickly, no later than two weeks into practice and hopefully sooner. Goff seems the most physically talented of the group, but it may be asking too much of a true freshman to be the team leader, especially with so much youth around him.

Dykes also hopes to get much more out of running back Brendan Bigelow, who had a spectacular game against Ohio State last season but saw only sporadic action after that. Though coach Jeff Tedford never said this publicly, many close to the team thought Bigelow didn't know much of Tedford's complex offense.

Dykes said he'd heard the same thing.

“That's why we try to keep our offense relatively simple,” he said. “After we've practiced for awhile, players should know how to respond to different situations.”

There's no question the pressure is on Dykes to produce an exciting team to bring fans into the stadium, but he shows no sign of worrying about that. Which is probably a sign that he's the right man for the job.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on Email him at

2013 schedule

Aug. 31 vs. Northwestern 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 7 vs. Portland St. 2 p.m.

Sept. 14 vs. Ohio St. 4 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Oregon TBA

Oct. 5 vs. Washington St. TBA

Oct. 12 at UCLA TBA

Oct. 19 vs. Oregon St. TBA

Oct. 26 at Washington TBA

Nov. 2 vs. Arizona TBA

Nov. 9 vs. USC TBA

Nov. 16 at Colorado TBA

Nov. 23 at Stanford TBA

BerkeleyCalGlenn DickeySonny Dykes

Just Posted

People take part in early voting for the November 5 election at City Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Electionpalooza: SF school board recall will kick off a flurry of local races

‘It’s going to be a lot of elections and a lot of decisions for voters to make’

The fate of San Francisco nicotine giant Juul remains to be seen, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing whether to allow certain flavored vape products on the market. <ins>(Jeenah Moon/New York Times)</ins>
How the vape king of teen nicotine addiction rose and fell in San Francisco

‘Hey, Juul, don’t let the door hit you on the way out’

Cabernet sauvignon grapes sat in a container after being crushed at Smith-Madrone Winery in St. Helena. (Courtesy Smith-Madrone Winery)
San Francisco’s ‘Champagne problems’ — Wine industry suffers supply chain woes

‘Everywhere you turn, things that were easy are no longer easy’

Glasses behind the bar at LUNA in the Mission District on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. Glassware is just one of the many things restaurants have had trouble keeping in stock as supply chain problems ripple outward. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF restaurants face product shortages and skyrocketing costs

‘The supply chain crisis has impacted us in almost every way imaginable’

A student carries a protection shield to her next class as part of her school’s COVID-19 safety measures. (Courtesy Allison Shelley/Eduimages)
Projected K-12 drops in enrollment pose immediate upheaval and decade-long challenge

State forecasts 11.4% fewer students by 2031 — LA and Bay Area to be hit hardest

Most Read