Texas Christian University took a significant gamble last season when the campus decided to move on from head football coach Gary Patterson.
The gamble paid off as Sonny Dykes led the Horned Frogs to a 12-1 record this season, a spot in the national semifinals, and on Monday, he was named the Associated Press Coach of the Year.
Patterson is the winningest coach in TCU’s extensive history with a 181-79 record and was a fan favorite — even seeing his likeness immortalized in a statue in 2016.
As if letting the legendary head coach walk was not controversial enough, TCU chose to replace Patterson with Dykes, the coach of their crosstown rival SMU.
Dykes’ first-year record is the best finish the school had seen since 2014, when Patterson led the team to a matching record and won the Peach Bowl 42-3 over Mississippi. That season, TCU was not invited to participate in the College Football Playoffs, an oversight that still leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many fans and alums today.
Dykes 2022 AP Coach of the Year trophy is the sixth award this season he has collected after becoming just the second coach to lead a team that entered the season unranked to the College Football Playoffs.
“We really had no expectations whatsoever when the year started,” Dykes said in an interview with the AP. “We thought we had a chance to be pretty good, but we just gained confidence every week and we had some kids that really were tough and like to compete, and that made everything so much better.”
Among those “tough kids” are quarterback Max Duggan, corner Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, and running back Kendre Miller.
Duggan was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy this year, while numerous players on both offense and defense from this historic team will be looking for opportunities in the NFL in April when the 2023 draft begins.
Dykes was able to pick up the pieces of the team that Patterson had put in place before him and add to the cast with recruiting through the transfer portal to augment a team many saw as “on the bubble” in 2021.
Dykes was unanimously named the Big 12 Coach of the Year at the close of the regular season.
The only loss for the Horned Frogs came against Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship game, a disappointing outcome as the Frogs sought just the fifth undefeated record in the campus’s 117 seasons of play.
Patterson led the Frogs to a 13-0 record in 2010 when the school competed in the Mountain West Conference. Before that, Dutch Meyer led the Frogs to a 13-0 record and the team’s only No.1 ranking back in 1938.
Dykes will lead the Horned Frogs onto the field at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, to face No.2 Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl on December 31. A win will propel the Frogs to the first national championship game in the school’s history.
In the meantime, Dykes will be hanging shelves in Fort Worth to show off all of the trophies he has collected in his first season at TCU.