Sometimes laying it on too thick detracts people from a point that is trying to be made. It is the perfection of the pitch that gives some people the ability to sell others on to something.
That was the art that former Texas Tech head football coach Spike Dykes was known for: trying to sell others on coming to Tech.
It was his personality that attracted a lot of people from outside of the field to flock to stadiums and watch his team play, Kent Hance, chancellor emeritus, said. But, it was his relationship with players that created the right formula for his winning teams.
“He made each player feel important,” Hance said. “There were players that didn’t play much, but he made them understand they were an important part of the team.”
There were certain coaches who had the responsibility of picking out high school athletes from around the state and trying to convince them to come to Tech, but most of the time, Dykes managed to make a personal appearance.
Tracy Saul, a former Tech football player who played from 1989-1992 and an Idalou native, did not go far from home to play football. So, going into college, he said he knew about Dykes and his coaching style.
Former Tech football coach Carlos Mainord said he was trying to recruit Saul, but on the weekend of Saul’s recruiting trip, he was playing a basketball game in Tahoka and was going to have to find some way to get back to Lubbock.
“And coach Dykes came and picked me up from the basketball gym at Tahoka and drove me over to campus for my recruiting visit,” Saul said. “He always saw the bright side of things, which was maybe the biggest part of coach Dykes and what he did.”
Saul said that helped seal the deal for him, who was still debating on if he was going to attend college.
Dykes had a knack for those types of things, Charlie Biggurs, a Tech football player from 1988-1992, said. In fact, Biggurs’ decision to attend Tech was hardly even his decision. It was more of his mother’s.
“Probably, if he had not ever met my mom, I would’ve not went to Tech, I’ll be honest with you,” Biggurs said. “But, because of the relationship he built with my mother, she encouraged me to go on that recruiting trip that January.”
Growing up in Houston, Biggurs said he had his eyes set on attending University of Oklahoma or Texas A&M University. He adored coaches like Jackie Sherrill and R.C. Slocum, but he had only heard about Dykes every now and again, and he was hardly on Biggurs’ radar.
Robert Ford, a former assistant coach for Dykes, was trying to recruit Biggurs and get him to come to Tech.
“It never crossed my mind to visit Tech, even when coach Ford came to the school the first two or three times,” Biggurs said. “I never would commit to visiting the school.”
But Dykes persisted and personally went to visit Biggurs at his high school. Later, he also visited him and his mother at their home, Biggurs said.
“She never encouraged me to go any other place, but she encouraged me after meeting with coach Dykes, after meeting with coach Ford,” Biggurs said.
Having served Tech for the past 21 years, Tommy McVay, director of football operations, said he attributes his entire career with the university to Dykes. For almost a decade, McVay got out of football coaching. McVay said he left coaching with no intention of coming back.
So, in looking for coaching positions to fill for Tech’s football team, Dykes called McVay one day and asked him to join the team, McVay said.
“Spike Dykes said, ‘Hey, why don’t you come be my recruiting coordinator after we sell our businesses out.’ I wasn’t doing anything,” McVay said. “I might be driving a bus right now or whatever the case may be, but he gave me another opportunity to get back into this field, and I’ve been here 21 years. I’ve been very fortunate, but everything I’ve done today and have is because of him, and you can’t get around that. Loved him.”