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What do you get when you combine a great Texas Tech and Longhorn coach?

You get a colorful storyteller,  a virtuoso of  one liners,  and a master of politically incorrect comments.    








When Spike Dykes passed away a library of football history was lost.

Spike Dykes was a folksy West Texan who never deviated from his roots. During his coaching career, his teams mirrored his persona. They were blue collar and hard working. Spike Dykes learned early in his career that coaching is a fulfilling but unforgiving profession. Like all coaches his road to a head coaching job at Texas Tech was bumpy. He survived because he learned patience and acquired wisdom quickly.  


The comments denoted in a blue font below are authored by Mark McDonald .  Mark is a Midland Lee Rebel, UTEP scholarship football player, sports writer, and author of many books.  He is currently working on a book about the Longhorns that he hopes to publish prior to the 50 anniversary of the 1969 Longhorn National Championship season. Stay tuned on this site for more information on this book.  

His son Turk was recruited by Spike Dykes at Texas Tech, and Turks visit to Lubbock speaks volumes about Coach Dykes great character. But first Mark McDonald tells a great story about how Coach Dykes at 21 years of age learned  how to dodge flying baloney.



Early on, Dykes was coaching high school basketball in the smallish ranching community of Eastland, in the cedar bushes between Fort Worth and Abilene.

His team was going home on the team bus one night after a dismal defeat when players started grab-assing in the aisles and hee-hawing in a manner Dykes deemed inappropriate. Worse, the kids used their sack lunches to start a food fight.

Steamed, Dykes stood on hind legs, reminded the players they had just lost and warned that the next kid to throw anything would be put off the bus and made to walk home. You guessed it. The very next instant somebody chunks a sandwich right at the 21-year-old coach.

“If the kid was as accurate with a basketball as he was with a sandwich,” Dykes later wrote, “we would have won the game.”

Stop the bus. The offending player gets kicked to the curb … 15 miles from school … in the darkness of north-central Texas deer country … long before cell phones.                                                                  

Three o’clock next morning. R-r-r-r-r-ring. The phone awakens the slumbering Dykes household. It’s the school superintendent. Right then and there, Dykes, his young wife expecting their first baby, gets fired from his first coaching job. 

Years later, in “Tales from the Texas Tech Sideline,” Dykes admits he could have handled the situation differently. “It was stupid to draw a line in the sand over a little flying baloney.”



After Eastland his coaching career included  Ballinger, Coahoma, Belton, Big Springs, San Angelo, Alice, UT-Austin, New Mexico, Mississippi State, Midland Lee, and Texas Tech.  He was the Head coach for the Red Raiders from 1986-1999. During those years he was SWC Coach of the Year in 1989, 1993, and 1994 and Big 12 Coach of the Year in 1996.  In 1999 he retired from the game.  When Coach Brown asked him why he left Texas Tech, Spike said with his dry wit that a previous coach told him "that his popularity with fans would dwindle by about 10% with each year he stayed, and he'd been at Tech for 13 years. 


The Recruiting of Turk McDonald  by Texas Tech Head Coach Spike Dykes December 1987


The sudden passing of Coach Spike Dykes (1938-2017) sent ripples of grief to our hearts here in Midland. Losing the former assistant to Darrell K. Royal and one of the most colorful and genuine characters in the state’s sports history reminded me of son Turk's recruiting trip to Texas Tech, winter of 1987. 

Turk was a  blue-chip center from DeSoto. On his recruiting trip to Tech Turk was feeling lousy when Tech sent a private plane to pick him up at Red Bird airstrip in Oak Cliff. After a bumpy flight to Lubbock, the kid's flu symptoms had worsened. 

A Tech assistant met Turk at the airport and started to take him to a local hotel for the weekend. From there, his host and Turk would paint the town red (and black). Or maybe not. The kid was in no shape to go anywhere but to bed. With a sick visiting recruit on his hands, the assistant called Spike. What to do, what to do. "Bring him to our house," Spike says. "We'll look after him."

So, Turk spends his Texas Tech recruiting weekend convalescing as the house guest of Sharon and Spike Dykes. Two weeks later, Turk shows his gratitude by following his heart. He commits to David McWilliams and the Texas Longhorns.

Ever the sportsman, Coach Dykes took the disappointing news with style and class.

"Son," Spike tells Turk, "if you always wanted to go to Texas, that's where you should go."

Coach Dykes’ departure leaves us with sepia-toned memories of the Southwest Conference, and thoughts of what the Big 12 – indeed all big-time collegiate athletics -- may never be again. Friends and foes alike, Dykes’ built links to athletes and coaches so rare today. For these and a thousand other reasons, the West Texas branches of the McDonald family tree remain a Spike Dykes fan ... for all-time. – Mark S. McDonald, Sr., Midland

{Editor’s note: Let the record show Turk McDonald started at center 1991-1992 and, more importantly, earned a “T” ring.}


Below is the full funeral service in Lubbock for Coach Spike Dykes.  Mack Brown speaks at 1:02:22 of tape. It is a great speech by Coach Brown about his friend Spike Dykes.

Spike Dykes contributions to Longhorn traditions represents  a portal to the past that reminds Longhorn fans that heritage shapes the present and empowers the future.