I got the news Sunday Morning in a text message from a buddy. The first thing I did was make sure it wasn't April 1st, because this could have passed as an April Fools Day Story.
Jimmy Dykes, one of ESPN's lead college basketball commentators, leaving the high profile world of men's college hoops to coach the Arkansas women.
It made a big splash on twitter. If the Bret Bielema hire was a 7 on the shock scale, the Dykes hire is a 10. I wouldn't have been surprised to hear that a lower level division one men's program was taking a chance on the former Razorback walk on. When it comes to knowledge of the men's game few can match Dykes.
I know three things about Jimmy Dykes.
First and foremost, he is driven to succeed.
I can remember several years ago when a young Jimmy Dykes was hoping to break into the TV business. I helped him tape a mock TV post game report. The lobby of the TV station served as the corridor outside the locker room . Jimmy attacked the fake report like it was the Final Four.
He loves new challenges.
Just look at his resume. Several stops as a college assistant coach, one year as an NBA scout, a short stay at Shiloh Christian as athletic director , followed by a long and very successful run with an ESPN.
He loves Arkansas and the Razorbacks.
No member of ESPN's staff has been so closely tied to a University. Jimmy never passed up an opportunity to be on any of our Razorback broadcasts, football and men's basketball. He never hid the fact that he is a proud former Razorback. It would have probably been easier for ESPN and Jimmy if he had moved closer to Bristol, but he insisted on staying in Northwest Arkansas.
My only concern about this hire is how Jimmy will handle the transition to the women's game.
Women's college basketball has come a long way over the last 10 or 15 years, but it's still nothing like the men's game . How many women's coaches or star players can the average fan name ? Not many. The sport only becomes truly relevant when a player or program has transcendent success like Brittany Griner or the UConn women. It's a different world.
I'm looking forward to seeing Coach Dykes go to work. It's my guess that you will be seeing a lot of Coach Dykes on local TV in the coming months.
Jeff Long was right when he said this was an exciting new era of Razorback Women's Basketball.
Only time will tell, how exciting and how long ,the Dykes era, will be at the University of Arkansas.
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