HORSESHOE BAY-William Taylor (Spike) Dykes, 79, died at his home Monday after battling health issues for the past year. He coached high school and college football for five decades and left a lasting impression everywhere he went.
Born March 14, 1938, in Lubbock, his family travelled the Panhandle before settling in Ballinger, where he became an All-State center. He played briefly at Rice (“they didn’t offer me the academic challenges I was seeking”) before transferring to S.F. Austin and graduating in 1959. His coaching stops were many: assistant coach at Eastland and Ballinger before taking over the San Angelo Central program in 1962. After two seasons, he successfully guided Coahoma (1964-65), Belton (1966), Big Spring (1967-69), and Alice (1970-71) before joining Darrell Royal’s staff at the University of Texas for five seasons. Then it was on to New Mexico (1977-78) and Mississippi State (1979) as an assistant before taking the reins at Midland Lee. His four seasons there resulted in a state runner-up finish in 1983. Jerry Moore lured him to Texas Tech in 1984 as defensive coordinator and after two seasons, David McWilliams kept him at the same spot in 1986. After McWilliams’ sudden departure, Tech Athletic Director T. Jones named Dykes the head coach on Dec. 10, just three weeks before an Independence Bowl date.
He faced big odds. The past 13 seasons, Texas Tech had had five different head coaches. Only one of the previous eight seasons had been a winning one. But his coaching skills and personality soon took off and his eternal optimism spread. Challenges became opportunities. His achievements quickly multiplied: he became the first TT coach to produce seven straight bowl-eligible seasons and the first to coach in seven straight bowls. He became the first coach to beat Texas six times (and A&M five) and led the Red Raiders to their first Cotton Bowl appearance in 56 years. He was a three-time Southwest Conference Coach of the Year selection and once a Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year pick. In his four years in the Big 12, his combined record was 9-3 against Texas, Texas A&M and Baylor. He had 10 players named first-team All-America, two (Bam Morris in 1993 and Byron Morris in 1996) as Doak Walker Award Winner and one (Zach Thomas in 1995) as a Dick Butkus Award finalist. When he retired in 1999, he held the school record for victories (82-67-1). He was inducted into the Texas Tech Athletic Hall of Honor in 2001 and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. Dykes’ main love of football, though, was the kids themselves. He expected effort and he was then in their corner forever. Some tripped and fell, but most were given a second chance. “That’s why pencils have erasers,” he said. He could fit in at the tuxedo events but he was more comfortable back in the kitchen, swapping stories with the hired help. An icon on the after-dinner circuits, no event was too small. “Spikeisms” were always a media hit, but he always had the great country logic when necessary: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” or “Good judgment comes from experience. And where does experience come from? Bad judgment.”
Spike was preceded in death by his wife of 52 years, Sharon of Horseshoe Bay. He met the love of his life in Ballinger, Texas, in 1954. They were sweethearts and Spike was Sharon’s only love, and she was his only love.
He is survived by his sons, Rick and his wife, Shelley of Lubbock and Sonny and his wife, Kate of Fort Worth, and one daughter, Bebe Petree and her husband, Larry of Lubbock; grandchildren: Jessica Oatman and husband, Mark, Casey Petree, Julianne Dykes, Taylor Perio and husband, Taylor, Dusty Dykes, Alta, Charlie and Daniel Dykes; and three precious great-grandchildren. Spike had several extended families: the Mullets, the Fishing Buddies, his Pebble Beach golf group and all his assistant coaches. There were also many cousins and countless friends and admirers from all four corners, but his real second family were all the players he coached on down through the years, and you know who you are.
The family would like to express their gratitude to Dr. Michel Phy and Leah Pearce.
Services will be held Thursday starting at 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Lubbock with a reception following at 3:30 pm at the United Spirit Arena and Friday starting at 2 p.m. at the Church of Horseshoe Bay in Horseshoe Bay with a reception following at 3:30 at Escondido. The family would love to greet everybody at the receptions to celebrate the life of Spike Dykes.
Memorials may be made to the Spike-Dykes Memorial Scholarship Fund C/O Amy Herd, PO BOX 45055, Lubbock, TX 79409, or the Sharon Dykes Alzheimers Foundation C/O Kimberly Cody, First Capital Bank, 6811 Indiana Ave, Lubbock, TX 79413.