TCU Head Coach Sonny Dykes Backs Player Empowerment

“I’m probably in the minority in terms of my belief that anything that’s good for the players, I view is a good thing,” TCU Horned Frogs head coach Sonny Dykes said during media day leading up to tonight’s College Football Championship Game.

That’s not the sentiment around college football, as we’ve seen a seismic shift in power and player movement due primarily to NIL and a free-flowing transfer portal. That includes numerous head coaches, which Dykes acknowledged. Many are critical of change and see evolution as bad.

As Dykes also pointed out, “NIL makes things complicated.” So does the transfer portal. Especially for coaches. That doesn’t make either bad.

For those who feel it’s become the wild wild west with no rules. While those concerns are often overstated, they’re not entirely wrong. And whose fault is that?

“And the tragedy is that we were so slow to adapt that instead of all of us collectively, the NCAA, the conferences, universities, whatever, instead of changing and taking care of student-athletes and their welfare, like we should have, we basically neglected that to the point where the courts had to get involved,” Dykes continued.

“So, again, I’m in the minority to view it that way, but that’s a tragedy that had to happen that way, and all of a sudden, when the courts get involved, you have chaos because they’re deciding on things that obviously they don’t know about from a day-to-day perspective.”

The NCAA, which means the member institutions (the universities), is 100 percent to blame for that predicament. It’s always been a short-sighted, reactive, greedy, power-hungry organization. No. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It worked for a while, decades, in fact.

They were OK with coaches severely limiting player movement by blocking schools a player could transfer to while moving freely whenever the grass was greener. They were OK with schools monetizing off players while their families wouldn’t be allowed assistance to travel to see their children play.

Those in decision-making positions should have seen what was coming, been proactive, and given up some power (and money) today for more control tomorrow. Dykes added these changes “should have happened 30 years ago.”

Instead, those in power wanted to squeeze everything they could out of the old antiquated system that favored them at every turn. Now, they’ve lost control of the steering wheel and have no one to blame but themselves.

During his time with the media, Dykes spoke positively about players having “better opportunities and more options.” How now it’s easier to facilitate parents visiting their kids when in the past a player might not see mom and dad if they couldn’t afford the travel to a game, for example, including big money-making events like the College Football Playoff.

“So all these things are good, and I see all the changes as positive,” Dykes concluded. “And it creates a little bit of chaos for us as coaches. But, look, that’s our job to figure it out and deal with it.”

Dykes agreed to a contract extension after making the CFP, and according to reports, it’s believed to be “near the top levels of the Big 12.” Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy makes $7.5 million. His counterpart in the championship game, Georgia’s Kirby Smart, makes north of $11 million.

Sure, their job is complicated. As Don Draper said, “that’s what the money is for.”

I won’t be rooting for Dykes and his Horned Frogs tonight (you can guess why), but TCU has become my favorite Big 12 team as long as he’s their coach (and as long as they remain in the Big 12).