CAL FOOTBALL Wilcox expected to become head coach
Cal is expected to hire Wisconsin defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox as its head football coach, a source told The Chronicle on Thursday night.
Unless there are problems in final contract negotiations, he could be formally introduced at a weekend news conference.
Wilcox, 40, would replace Sonny Dykes. Wilcox has strong ties to the Bay Area. He was Cal’s linebackers coach for three seasons (200305) under Jeff Tedford, and his father, Dave Wilcox, is a Hall of Fame linebacker who played with the 49ers.
Cal also interviewed interim head coach and offensive coordinator Jake Spavital and Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo. Washington’s Jonathan Smith and Pete Kwiatkowski (the Huskies’ offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively) also were thought to be candidates, and former 49ers/Ea-
gles/Oregon head coach Chip Kelly and Cal alum and current Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera were fan favorites.
Under Wilcox, Wisconsin’s defense ranked seventh in the country this season. Cal was 125th in the 128-team FBS.
Contract negotiations with Wilcox were first reported by Fox Sports, which also broke the news of Dykes’ firing Sunday. Wilcox is believed to have been offered a package deal that would include bringing in former Cal defensive lineman Tosh Lupoi — a recruiting maven who is Alabama’s outside linebackers coach — as the Bears’ defensive coordinator.
In April, the Wisconsin State Journal reported that Wilcox was scheduled to be paid base salaries of $300,000 last season and $650,000 next season, with incentives pushing his total compensation to $1.45 million in the two years.
He probably will get more than double his base pay at Cal.
Dykes was fired after flirting with other schools and going 1-11 against the Pac-12’s other California schools in four seasons.
The Bears, 1-11 in Dykes’ first season, improved in his second and third years and went to a bowl game in 2015. Cal regressed this past season, losing four straight after a 4-3 start, and finished 5-7 to drop Dykes’ four-year record in Berkeley to 19-30.
Cal still owes Dykes $5.9 million for the final three years of his contract.
With players scheduled to report Monday for offseason conditioning, Spavital could stay as offensive coordinator although he is said to be fielding other offers.