SMU head coach Sonny Dykes

SMU head coach Sonny Dykes talks to refs during a game against Tulane on Oct. 21.

UNIVERSITY PARK — On Sunday, SMU head coach Sonny Dykes had to get something straight with his team.

“I think there was enough noise where it became necessary,” Dykes said.

For almost a month, the outside noise has grown louder and louder indicating that Dykes would eventually leave SMU for Power Five pastures.

The noise started when Texas Tech — the school where his father, Spike, once coached — fired Matt Wells and started its coaching search. The noise continued when TCU — a place Dykes worked at in 2017 as an offensive analyst — moved on from longtime head coach Gary Patterson in the hopes of finding a coach with Texas ties and a willingness to take advantage of the transfer portal. The noise reached a crescendo in the last week.

A few weeks ago Dykes was asked if the outside noise about his coaching future needed to be addressed with his current team. His leadership council, made up of player captains, told him it wasn’t necessary. That changed Sunday.

“He just told us his No. 1 priority is beating Tulsa,” senior offensive lineman Hayden Howerton — the school record holder for games played — said on Tuesday. “And like anything goes, at the end of the year, we’ll all see what happens. He didn’t give one way or the other and I’m OK with that, because at least he was honest with us and not lying.

“He’s got to look at his options. Being a fifth-year [senior], I don’t blame him, either way.”

TCU has been an option that’s been rumored since Halloween weekend. And according to 247Sports, TCU is “zeroing in” on hiring Dykes as its next head coach.

Sources also told The Dallas Morning News on Tuesday that former SMU offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, now at Miami (Fla.), is the front runner for the SMU head coaching job if or when Dykes departs.

Dykes was asked Tuesday if he wanted to address the TCU rumors with the media.

“No, we’re good. I’m good,” Dykes said. “Our players, I’ve talked to them and we’re good. They’re the ones that matter.”

Dykes echoed that sentiment on Tuesday when talking about the group of seniors on this team. Saturday’s Senior Day against Tulsa will be the last home game for a group of seniors that had the best run SMU’s seen since the Death Penalty.

“I think it’s important for our seniors,” Dykes said when asked how important Saturday’s game is for him. “Those guys have been through a lot. It’s really a remarkable group. They’ve been really good for me, you know what I mean? It’s been such a joy to coach them and work with them. They’ve been inspiring. ... I know it means a lot to send them out with a win.”

For Dykes, that’s the focus this week. He told his players that much on Sunday. That’s why, for the first time, he also felt it was needed to address the outside rumors that have become so synonymous with this program over the last month, a stretch in which SMU went from undefeated, to losing three of four games.

“So I talked to them,” Dykes said about the coaching rumors. “It’s what we have to do as coaches, and again, the good thing is we’re always truthful with each other.”

What happens after Saturday, while seemingly inevitable, is not of concern to Howerton. He said he’s focused on beating Tulsa and having the chance to end his career with two 10-win seasons. As for the coaching rumors, he said he’s sticking to what he knows.

“All I know is he’s our head coach now, he’s our head coach this week and I love him to death,” Howerton said. “I’m going to his house for Thanksgiving.”

Three turkeys will be on the menu. Howerton’s choice: the air fried option.

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