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Former Texas Tech head football coach Spike Dykes passes away

On Monday, former Texas Tech head football coach Spike Dykes passed away at his home near Austin, Texas. Dykes was 79 years old.

Born in Lubbock, Dykes was a West Texan through and through. He led his hometown school to a then school-record 82 wins from 1986-99, cementing his legacy as one of the more adored figures in Texas Tech history.

"Red Raider Nation mourns the loss of legendary head coach Spike Dykes," Tech Director of Athletics Kirby Hocutt said. "Anyone who met Spike quickly learned how much he loved West Texas and most importantly, Texas Tech. The legacy he left at Texas Tech will be remembered forever."

The son of a cotton ginner, Dykes spent most of his youth in the small town of Oasis, near the New Mexico state line before eventually moving south to Ballinger where he was an all-state center and helped lead the Bearcats to the Class 2A state finals.

After graduating from Stephen F. Austin in 1959, Dykes embarked on a successful career as a high school coach with stops in small Texas towns like Eastland, San Angelo, Coahoma, Belton, Big Spring, Alice and of course, Ballinger.

"I think you coach because you love kids," Dykes, known for his wit and West Texas charm, said early in his Tech career. "And if you do that, every day is rewarding. That way you never get your priorities out of perspective. It all boils down to the chance to work with young people, hopefully be an influence on them for the better and help them make something of themselves that is positive."

Influence he did.

Dykes received his first collegiate position as an assistant coach under Darrell Royal at the University of Texas in 1972. He spent five seasons at Texas in various roles from coaching the freshmen team to special teams and eventually the offensive and defensive lines.

Dykes spent three more seasons at the collegiate level – two at New Mexico (1977-78) and one at Mississippi State – before West Texas called him home to be the head coach at Midland Lee High School in 1980. He led the Rebels past rival Odessa Permian twice during his final season in 1983 en route to an appearance in the Class 5A state title game.

The phone rang soon after from then Tech head coach Jerry Moore, who offered Dykes the defensive coordinator position at Texas Tech. Dykes built one of the nation's stingiest defenses in his two seasons under Moore and then another under David McWilliams until T. Jones promoted him to head coach just two weeks prior to the 1986 Independence Bowl.

Dykes brought stability to a program in need of it after Tech went through five head coaches in the preceding 17 seasons. The Red Raiders had also suffered through seven losing seasons in the eight years before his promotion. Dykes remained on the job for 14 years, still the longest tenure for any head coach in Tech history.

After narrowly falling to Ole Miss in his debut, Dykes led the Red Raiders to six more bowl appearances during his tenure and had his teams qualified for bowl games in each of his last seven seasons. Tech endured just three losing seasons during Dykes' 13 years where he finished with an 82-67-1 career record, including a 57-40-1 mark in conference games.

Dykes regularly had the Red Raiders near the top of the conference standings as he was a three-time Southwest Conference Coach of the Year recipient and was also the inaugural Big 12 Coach of the Year honoree in 1996 after leading Tech to a 7-5 record and an appearance in the Alamo Bowl. His teams topped rivals Texas and Texas A&M a total of 12 times during his illustrious career.

In addition, Dykes boasted a pair of nine-win campaigns on his resume, the first of which came in 1989, just his third full season. The Red Raiders closed the 1989 season with a 9-3 record, marking the most wins for the program since 1976. Dykes would follow with another 9-3 campaign in 1995, the third of seven-consecutive seasons with at least six wins to close his career.

Before retiring in 1999, Dykes coached nine first team All-Americans, two Doak Walker Award winners in Byron Hanspard and Bam Morris and one Dick Butkus Award finalist in Zach Thomas. He was enshrined into the Texas Tech Hall of Fame in 2001 shortly after his retirement.

"Words cannot describe what Coach Dykes meant to West Texas, Texas Tech University, this program and me, personally," said Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who was recruited by Dykes and was the starting quarterback in his final game as head coach. "He was a great coach and an even better person. He will forever be remembered as one of the all-time greatest Red Raiders."

In the years following his retirement, Dykes would always proclaim he was "the luckiest guy in the world" at many of Tech's recruiting reviews and banquets.

His belief in that statement was not due to his coaching career but instead by his family which consisted of his wife of over 50 years Sharon as well as their two sons, Ricky and Sonny, and their daughter, Bebe Petree. Sharon preceded Spike in death in 2010.

Memorial services for Dykes will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at First United Methodist Church in Lubbock and then 2 p.m. Friday in Horseshoe Bay.

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