So much can, has, and should be written about one of the finest men I have ever had the occasion to meet. Out a great pit of darkness, William Taylor "Spike" Dykes emerged as the interim head coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders in 1986 at the Independence Bowl.
But let’s start at the beginning. As with any humble man, Spike came from a small town, Ballinger, Texas….the home of many of Blackbeard’s kinfolk. He played football at Stephen F. Austin State University and was the Lumberjacks’ center from 1596 thru 1958.
After graduation, Spike began his coaching career with one year as an assistant in Eastland and two in Ballinger. In 1962 and 1963 he was the defensive coordinator at San Angelo Central under then head coach Emory Bellard. He got his first head coaching job in 1964 at Cahoma, then, Belton, Big Spring and finally Alice. Spike was famous for his saying that as a head coach "you don’t plant trees in your yard, cause you won’t be around to stand in the shade".
1972 saw Dykes move to the college ranks as an assistant at Texas for four years. He assisted at New Mexico for two and Mississippi State in 1979. He moved back to West Texas in 1980 and became the head coach of Midland Lee High School where over four years he posted a 34-11 record and a State of Texas 5A Semi-Final game.
In the spring of 1984 Texas Tech and Rex Dockery came calling and Spike answered and became the Defensive Coordinator for the Red Raiders. He stayed on as such during David McWilliams one year gig as well.
Once the 1987 season rolled around, "I like Spike" t-shirts and bumper stickers were seen all throughout the South Plains. The ever popular Dykes, at age 49, with his down-home likeability completely won over the Raider faithful who were so desperate to find something of value in the Tech football program. Dykes would go on to lead the Red Raiders to seven straight bowl-eligible seasons and coach his team in seven bowl games. He also beat those bastards in Austin six different times, was named SWC coach of the year three times, and Big 12 COY in its first season as a league. He stepped down and retired in 1999 with an overall record of 87-67-1.
One almost had to be there to really appreciate what Spike did for Texas Tech football. In his time at Tech, he defeated UT and A&M eleven times. He led the Raiders to its first Cotton Bowl appearance in 56 years and had first-team All-Americans six years in a row. He produced two Doak Walker award winners and established 78 individual or team records in the process.
"You coach because you love kids, and if you do that, every day is rewarding. That was you never get your priorities out of perspective. All I’ve ever wanted to be known as is "coach"".
The list of quality players during the Dykes era is almost endless. With a keen eye for talent, Spike fielded such Tech stars as Byron Hanspard, Tracy Saul, Tyrone Thurman, Anthony Lynn, Travis Price, Robert Hall, Lloyd Hill, Mark Bounds, Bam Morris, Zebbie Lethridge, Zack Thomas, Donnie Hart, Sammy Morris, Ricky Williams, Rob Peters, Rodney Blackshear, Kliff Kingsbury, Marcus Coleman, Cody McGuire, John Norman, Monte Reagor, Stoney Garland, Jay Pugh, Kevin Curtis, Rex Richards, Antwan Alexander, and Nathan Richburg among others.
His home-spun humor made Spike one of the most beloved coaches in Tech history. One story he relates frequently, was of his first loss to UT. He said he was leaving the stadium and dejectedly had his head down. He managed to bump into an older woman. Quickly he said, "Sorry, no offense, ma’am." He says the lady answered in no uncertain terms, "Yeah, and no defense either!"
After retiring from the coaching ranks, Dykes spent some time with Fox Sports Southwest as an analyst and never really strayed far from the game he loves. He moved to Horseshoe Bay near Austin to spend time with his other sport, golf. Not long ago, his wife, Sharon contracted Alzheimer’s and later passed. Friends and former players have established an annual charity golf event in Sharon’s honor which raises much needed funds for research in Texas to help cure this horrid disease.
There is tons more that can be written and should be. Please use the comments to relate your thoughts, recollections, etc.