BERKELEY -- Saying he was "blown away" by the opportunity to become the football coach at Cal, Sonny Dykes delivered the words every Old Blue wants to hear, assuring that his goal is to get the Golden Bears back to the Rose Bowl.
"There's nothing like being part of a championship team," Dykes said in his introductory news conference Thursday at Memorial Stadium.
Cal has not played in the Rose Bowl game since Jan. 1, 1959.
Dykes, 43, is expected to get a multiyear deal that athletic director Sandy Barbour said would be finalized within about a week. She provided no details on the contract's length or dollar amount.
In an interview Thursday evening on KNBR radio, Dykes said he would be getting a five-year deal.
Dykes comes to Cal from Louisiana Tech, where his spread-offense attack led the nation in scoring this season at 51.5 points per game. The Bulldogs also ranked last in the country in total defense. Louisiana Tech was 9-3 but not selected to a bowl game.
"I'm really excited to see the change in the program and all the expectations that he's trying to meet," Cal freshman wide receiver Chris Harper said hours after the players had their first meeting with Dykes. "His demeanor was serious, but he mentioned that he wanted to have a lot of fun this season."
Barbour said she made 12 airline flights and interviewed more than a half-dozen candidates since firing Jeff Tedford on Nov. 20 after 11 seasons. She declined
In the span of one week, Barbour met with Dykes three times, but she acknowledged after the first meeting, "When he walked out of the room, I said to myself, 'I think that's the guy.' "
Dykes also knew from the start this was a job he wanted. He extolled all the virtues of the campus, suggesting that the program's new facilities will benefit recruiting but that Cal sells itself to some degree.
"I'm a big believer in fit," he said. "I think
Dykes' "Air Raid" offense -- already being dubbed "Bear Raid" by some Cal followers -- is a spread attack that features power running and play-action passing out of a shotgun formation. The Bears will run no-huddle again, but at a faster tempo.
"We're not going to be Oregon," he said, referring to the Ducks' spread-option offense that features more running from its quarterback. Pro-style quarterbacks in the program, including Allan Bridgford and highly touted freshman Zach Kline, will function fine in Dykes' system.
Louisiana Tech's offense this season did not include a tight end, but Cal's Richard Rodgers and his position mates needn't worry they are obsolete, Dykes said. When he was offensive coordinator at Arizona, he utilized Rob Gronkowski, now a star for the New England Patriots.
"We figure out who our best players are," Dykes said, then tweak the system to get them on the field.
Aware that Cal football had the Pac-12's lowest graduation rates in the most recent NCAA statistics, Dykes said the program will be "dedicated to winning every single day in every single way," including on the field and in the classroom.
Certainly Dykes needs to avoid scenarios like what happened this season, when Tedford held starting quarterback Zach Maynard out of the first quarter in the opening game at renovated Memorial Stadium because he missed an academic meeting three months earlier. Cal fell behind Nevada early, lost 31-24 and never recovered on the way to a 3-9 season.
Barbour said talking about the issue is one thing, but she was convinced Dykes will implement accountability.
"Anybody can say anything, but it was based on a variety of different questions, posing different situations," she said. "The consistency and focus on those values and principles were just dead-on. He's got it.
Dykes said he already has begun recruiting and expects to name his staff of assistants by Christmas. Acknowledging Louisiana Tech's defensive woes, he said defensive coordinator will be "the biggest, most important hire I make."
He said he will interview four or five candidates for that assignment, including possibly one-time Cal aide DeWayne Walker, currently head coach at New Mexico State.
The five holdover coaches, including 16-year veteran Ron Gould, will interview for spots on the staff. Dykes hinted that he will bring offensive coordinator Tony Franklin from Louisiana Tech.
Barbour said she will develop a salary structure for the staff that will allow Dykes to attract top assistants in an era where their salaries are climbing. A year ago, Cal lost defensive line assistant and top recruiter Tosh Lupoi because Washington offered him much more money.