Michigan and TCU will meet for the first time ever later this month, and the stakes could hardly be higher. A spot in the College Football Playoff Championship will be on the line on New Year’s Eve at the Fiesta Bowl.
Sonny Dykes, coach of the Horned Frogs, met with media on Sunday afternoon following his program’s selection to the Fiesta Bowl — which will represent TCU’s College Football Playoff debut. Here’s what he said about the upcoming matchup with Michigan:
Sonny Dykes’s opening statement
Appreciate the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl for extending the offer to TCU, and the College Football Playoff Committee. We are really appreciative and thankful for the opportunity to play against the University of Michigan, who just happens to be, I believe, the winningest team in college football history. So we are excited to be a part of the playoff. We’ve got a fantastic football team.
I have been doing this now for right around 30 years, and this is the most enjoyable football team I’ve ever coached. Really enjoy being around these players. They are crazy competitive. They have tremendous work ethics. I think they embody everything that’s good about college football. Very selfless.
We were picked seventh in the preseason media poll this year in the Big 12. Our players have done an incredible job of avoiding distractions and didn’t pay much attention to the preseason rankings. Just as the season rolled along, we didn’t pay attention to the college football rankings or the College Football Playoff rankings or the Big 12 rankings or any of that. We just tried to take it one week at a time.
We had a heck of a ball game [Saturday] afternoon against a very good Kansas State team and lost in overtime. Our players were disappointed in the outcome of that game. But at the same time, we’re very excited to get the good news today that we are a participant in the Fiesta Bowl.
So we couldn’t be more proud of our players and of TCU and our fans, and we’re really looking forward to a great game against Michigan.
On his first impressions of Michigan
Honestly, I haven’t had a chance to look at much of Michigan so far. Watched them a little bit [Saturday] night. I was on kid duty, quite frankly, taking care of some of my kids and my daughters and my 6-year-old son and trying to help my wife, Kate, get them to bed and things last night. So I didn’t get a chance to see a lot of them.
The little bit I saw, looked like a very physical football team. I think that certainly at the end of the game, they were very physically imposing last night against Purdue. Saw the quarterback (JJ McCarthy) make a ton of plays, improvised outside the pocket. Was really impressed with the things that he can do, what kind of athlete he was, how accurate he was moving outside of the pocket. And they just looked like a very, very good football team.
Defensively, they were what you would expect. Big up front, physical. Saw the corner, Number 2 (Will Johnson), had a couple of interceptions. Really looked like he was a very productive player last night. So it was a big win for Michigan last night against a good Purdue team.
They look like a very talented football team. As I said, we haven’t had a chance to dive in deep yet and look at them. But just on the outside looking in, it looked like a heck of a team.
On his relationship with Jim Harbaugh when Dykes was at Arizona and Harbaugh at Stanford
I remember they were really good. They had some really good players, Andrew Luck and some guys that were really, really good football players. They had a really physical football team. I think that’s the one trademark of Jim Harbaugh teams. Certainly Stanford, and I would assume Michigan as well, they are going to be tough, physical, hard-nosed football teams. I think that’s Jim’s mentality. And I think that’s why he’s been so successful.
His teams always play hard. They are going to be well-coached, they’re going to be physical, and they are going to be competitive and play tough. And those are all key ingredients to having a good football team.
I don’t know Jim that well. I have been around him on a number of occasions, but look forward to getting to know him better through the process and have a lot of respect for him as a coach and what he’s done at Michigan.