Wilcox hiring a done deal, reports say
Wisconsin defensive coordinator said to be getting a 5-year deal, will be college head coach for 1st time
Wisconsin defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox has agreed to a five-year contract to be the new football coach at Cal, according to multiple reports.
The news was first reported Friday night by the Mercury News.
Financial terms were not announced and the school was not confirming the hiring.
Wilcox, 40, has never been a head coach. He would replace Sonny Dykes, whose offense-rich, defense-poor four-year run at Berkeley ended after this season’s 5-7 showing. The Bears were 19-30 under Dykes.
Dykes was fired Sunday, and offensive coordinator Jake Spavital was named interim coach. Spavital was among those interviewed to replace Dykes, but Fox
Sports’ Bruce Feldman reported Friday that Spavital has accepted the offensive coordinator job at West Virginia.
Wilcox is the son of former 49er and NFL Hall of Famer Dave Wilcox. Under him, the Badgers had the nation’s seventh-ranked defense this season; Cal’s was 125th (out of 128 FBS schools).
Wilcox previously coached at Cal, having been the linebackers coach for three seasons (2003-05) under Jeff Tedford. In addition to Wisconsin, he has also been a defensive coordinator at USC (2014-15), Washington (2012-13), Tennessee (2010-11) and Boise State (2006-09). At Boise State, he was on the staff of Chris Petersen, now the coach at Pac-12 champion Washington.
Dykes, one of the highest-paid employees in the University of California system, still has three years remaining on his Cal contract, which pays him about $3 million a year.
In addition to the Bears’ regression on the field — they played in a bowl game after the 2015 season, but then lost four of their last five this season to scuttle another postseason berth — Cal officials were unhappy that Dykes had interviewed for other jobs (Missouri a year ago, Baylor this season).
“(We) want somebody who is committed to Cal for the long term, somebody who really wants to be at Cal and somebody who really wants to build a winning program,” Cal athletic director Mike Williams said Sunday in the wake of Dykes’ firing.
Dykes replaced Tedford, who was fired after 11 seasons when Cal went 3-9 in 2012.
After going 1-11 in Dykes’ first season, the Bears improved to 5-7 in his second and in 2015 were 8-5 and won the Armed Forces Bowl.
This season, Cal’s offense did its part — averaging 37.1 points per game (No. 22 in the nation) — but its defense was wretched. Three opponents scored at least 50 points against the Bears and the team’s 42.6-pergame defensive scoring average was the secondworst in the country — only Texas Tech (43.5) was worse.
Justin Wilcox has experience as a defensive coordinator at Boise State, Tennessee, Washington, USC and Wisconsin.