New Cal head coach Justin Wilcox‘s first hire is a big one.
Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin has left his red field of fire to become the offensive coordinator in Berkeley. “This one is right, it’s an incredible opportunity,” Baldwin said, via the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
He leaves Eastern Washington with an 85-32 record, including six FCS playoffs appearances with four trips to the FCS semifinals and a national championship in 2010. Baldwin’s 2016 Eastern Washington team finished 12-2, won the Big Sky championship and reached the FCS semifinals.
Baldwin, of course, isn’t being hired for his head coaching acumen. He’s being brought to Berkeley to move the ball and score points — and on that front Baldwin is one of the best in college football. Eastern Washington finished the season ranked among the top three in FCS in total offense (529.6 yards per game), passing offense (401 yards per game), third down conversions (52.1 percent), completion percentage (67.9), passing efficiency (168.2) and scoring offense (42.4 points per game).
He’ll inherit an offense that finished tied for 54th in yards per play, 22nd in scoring and 51st in passing efficiency running Sonny Dykes‘s Air Raid system.
Baldwin joins a growing group of FCS or Group of 5 coaches leaving head coaching spots to become Power 5 coordinators, following Dan Enos (Central Michigan to Arkansas), Joe Moorhead (Fordham to Penn State) and Pete Lembo (Ball State to Maryland). Baldwin also interviewed for the Nevada head coaching job that ultimately went to Jay Norvell.
Former California head coach Sonny Dykes is set to join TCU’s staff in a to-be-determined role, multiple outlets reported Sunday evening. Jeremy Clark of TCU’s 247 site broke the news.
Dykes, of course, was the head coach of the Golden Bears through last Sunday, when the school abruptly fired him. He was 19-30 in four seasons with Cal.
With Doug Meacham off to Kansas and Sonny Cumbie running the show for the Horned Frogs’ offense, Dykes is a natural fit to slide in and assist Cumbie. Dykes was an offensive assistant of Mike Leach at Texas Tech from 2000-06, and Cumbie played for the Red Raiders as a quarterback from 2000-04. Sharing the same first name can’t hurt, either.
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.
Jake Spavital worked for Dana Hologrsen three different times spread across four years, and now the two are set to reunite again.
According to Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports, Spavital will return to West Virginia to serve as offensive coordinator in 2017. Spavital spent the ’16 campaign in a similar capacity at California. With Spavital coming aboard, Joe Wickline will transition back to coaching the offensive line, as he has for the majority of his career.
Spavital served as as graduate assistant under Holgorsen at Houston in 2009, followed him to Oklahoma State as a graduate assistant for the 2010 season, then served as Holgorsen’s quarterbacks coach at West Virginia in 2011-12. He left Morgantown to coach quarterbacks and coordinate the offense at Texas A&M from 2013-15.
The combination of Holgorsen, Wickline and Spavital helped create the No. 3 total offense, No. 8 yards per play offense and No. 3 scoring offense in the country in 2010.
West Virginia’s 2016 attack ranked 26th in yards per play and 49th in scoring en route to a 10-3 record and a No. 18 final ranking in the AP poll.
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.