It’s been in the works for several days but finally became official on Saturday afternoon: Justin Wilcox is the new head coach at Cal.
“It has been a dream of mine to lead a college football program and there’s no better place than here at Cal where I got my start and at a school that means so much to me,” Wilcox said in a statement. “I would like to thank Director of Athletics Mike Williams and his staff for putting their trust in me with the Cal football program. I’m looking forward to getting to know our team and hiring our staff, and we will get to work immediately recruiting student-athletes of high character who are good fits for Cal both academically and athletically. I can’t wait to get started.”
This is Wilcox’s first head coaching position but will be his second stint in Berkeley after coaching linebackers at the school from 2003-2005. He most recently spent the past season as the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin but has plenty of Pac-12 experience from stops at Washington, USC and as a player at Oregon.
Just minutes after the news was officially released about Wilcox, West Virginia also announced that that former Bears offensive coordinator Jake Spavital was taking the same position in Morgantown. As a result, it will be interesting to see what kind of staff Wilcox puts together over the coming weeks as recruiting ramps up in the days and weeks leading up to National Signing Day.
California interviewed Wisconsin defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox earlier this week, and now the two sides have reportedly made their mutual interest official.
According to Brett McMurphy of ESPN, the Golden Bears will hire Wilcox to serve as their new head coach on a 5-year contract.
Wilcox, 40, has never served as a head coach previously, but has extensive experience on the West Coast. A Eugene native, Wilcox played at Oregon in the late ’90’s, then began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Boise State in 2000. His first full-time job came as the linebackers coach at California under Jeff Tedford, then landed defensive coordinator jobs at Tennessee, Washington, USC and, of course, Wisconsin.
His Badgers defense ranked 18th nationally in yards per play allowed and fourth in scoring in 2016. In 2017, Wilcox will inherit a defense that ranked 122nd and 127th in those respective categories.
The Golden Bears, who fired Sonny Dykes on Jan. 8, finished 5-7 in 2016 and have finished below .500 in four of their last five seasons.
The 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship is over and all of the trophies have been handed out, but there’s still plenty of business left to do for the organization responsible for the sport’s postseason.
The first item of business is determining who will fill vacant spots on the CFP Selection Committee. According to ESPN, one name expected to be selected is Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith.
Smith certainly has the credentials to join the committee for a term, having played on Notre Dame’s 1973 national title team as a defensive end and been a member of the NCAA’s men’s basketball selection committee for five years (including one as the chairman).
Three committee members terms have expired and Smith is expected to fill the role vacated by Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and ex-coach Bobby Johnson are also outgoing members of the committee.
The selection of Smith to fill one of those spots will certainly be well received inside the college athletics community given his connections and reputation in the industry. Still, it will be interesting to see how fans in general are receptive to yet another athletic director of a perennial playoff contender serving as one of the members of the committee.
Dabo Swinney vanquished Bear Bryant‘s former team in the national championship game earlier in the week. Last night, the Clemson head coach claimed an award named in the legend’s honor. Again.
At a ceremony Wednesday, Swinney was named as the 2016 recipient of the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year award. Swinney won the award last year, and is the first in its history to win it in back-to-back seasons.
The former Alabama walk-on becomes just the second two-time winner, joining Boise State’s Chris Petersen (2006, 2009).
Monday night, Swinney guided the Tigers to its first national championship in more than three decades.
Swinney and his counterpart on the opposing sideline, Nick Saban, were two of the nine finalists for the award. The other seven included Paul Chryst (Wisconsin), P.J. Fleck (Western Michigan), James Franklin (Penn State), Clay Helton (USC), Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia), Mike MacIntyre (Colorado) and Bob Stoops (Oklahoma).
Cal’s search for a new head coach continues, with a current Big Ten and former Pac-12 coordinator the latest to get some significant attention from the university’s athletic administration.
According to a tweet from FOXSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman, Cal has interviewed Wisconsin defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox for its coaching vacancy. The Bears are seeking a replacement for Sonny Dykes, who was summarily dismissed three days ago after four years on the job.
Wilcox just completed his first season with the Badgers, but has recent experience in the Pac-12. He served as the coordinator at Washington from 2012-13 before moving on to the same job at USC, which he stayed at for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
The 40-year-old coach also has ties to Cal, having served as the Bears’ linebackers coach from 2003-05. His first coordinating job came at Tennessee (2010-11).
Monday night, it was reported that Cal offensive coordinator Jake Spavital would interview for the job as well. Spavital was installed as interim head coach following Dykes’ firing.
Wilcox was mentioned as a potential candidate from the get-go, as has former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly. USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin is rumored to be a possibility as well, as is current Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason. The latter spent four years at Stanford before taking over at Vandy.