Cal Golden Bears head coach Sonny Dykes and Washington State Cougars head coach Mike Leach took long roads from Lexington, Ky. to the Pacific coast.
Dykes was a graduate assistant and tight end for the Kentucky Wildcats in 1997, the same year Leach joined the staff as offensive coordinator under visionary head coach Hal Mumme.
Dykes said on Tuesday’s Pac-12 coaches teleconference his strategy then was simple: “Keep my mouth shut and learn as much as I could.”
The foundation elements that have gone in Dykes' current "Bear-Raid" offensive scheme were cultivated from those lessons, which also extended to his time as Leach's assistant at Texas Tech.
“Mike understands offensive football as well as anybody,” Dykes said.
Sixteen years and several stops after their shared time in Kentucky, the two meet in Berkeley, Calif. Saturday.
Dykes has implemented wrinkles to the offense to make it his own, which he pointed out is common for other products of the Mumme tree.
Leach runs what Dykes described as "the most pure version of the air raid," relying on an almost pass-exclusive approach.
Though no one will confuse Cal’s scheme for the Wishbone, the Golden Bears have rushed 167 times in four games. That’s right around the median in college football.
Washington State, conversely, has a national-low 90 rushes through five games. The “air” when describing Leach’s version of the air raid is no misnomer.
Both styles have produced impressive passing numbers early into the season.
Washington State is No. 14 in passing offense at 327.4 yards per game, and Cal is No. 4 with 371.8 an outing.
Their progression from assistants in Lexington, to colleagues in Lubbock and now competitors in the Pac-12 is a sign of the times in college football, Dykes said.
“That’s what’s interesting about our profession—you never know where you’re going to end up,” Dykes said.
Mike Riley Dismisses A USC Move
Oregon State Beavers head coach Mike Riley spent four seasons at USC as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, including during the Trojans’ 1995 Rose Bowl run.
Riley knows how to win the Pac-12 Conference, having routinely exceeded expectations at Oregon State in his split 13 seasons there.
So would Riley consider bringing his demonstrated winning methods back to Los Angeles?
"I’ve made it clear in the past, [the Oregon State coaching staff is] scratching and clawing to stay right here and continue to grow,” he said. “We’re right in the middle of the season…trying to get a lot of stuff done during this bye week.”
Oregon State is riding a four-game win streak into its idle week, which it will look to extend to five Oct. 12 against Washington State.
Riley is preoccupied with establishing the run game, a lacking facet of the otherwise explosive Beaver offense, and with getting the defensive front solidified.
His indication Tuesday suggests Riley is only thinking about the Trojans in the context of their Nov. 1 visit to meet Riley’s Oregon State team in Corvallis, Ore.
“[The head coaching vacancy at USC] is the furthest thing from my mind,” he said.
Colorado Buffaloes Coach Mike MacIntyre Pursues History Once More
Fifteen years ago this month, a young Mike MacIntyre was defensive coordinator for the 0-6 Temple Owls.
Temple had never won a road game in seven years as a member of the Big East Conference, yet went into the No. 14-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies’ Lane Stadium to win, 28-24.
MacIntyre referenced that landmark victory on Tuesday’s conference call in reference to Colorado’s Pac-12 Conference matchup Saturday against No. 2 Oregon.
Temple was a 35-point underdog on that day. Colorado is the same Saturday, per VegasInsider.com.
It isn’t technically the biggest upset in college football history—Stanford was a 38-point underdog when it beat USC in 2007—but a Buffs win Saturday at home might be a more shocking development.
The Ducks’ status as a 35-point favorite is generous to the Buffs, given Oregon’s two wins since Colorado joined the Pac-12 were by 43 and 56 points.
Of course, this Buff team has shown measured improvement from 2012. Colorado already has more wins than last season, and is playing with a renewed vigor that Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich said is evident.
“On film you can see it,” he said on Tuesday’s conference call. “They’re just better.”
The Buffs need to be about six touchdowns better for MacIntyre to again be part of college football history.
Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 Lead Writer. All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Follow Kyle on Twitter: @kensing45.