Justin Wilcox (American football)

Justin Draper Wilcox[1] (born November 12, 1976) is an American football coach and former player. He is currently the head football coach at the University of California, Berkeley.

Justin Wilcox
Current position
TitleHead coach
Biographical details
Born (1976-11-12) November 12, 1976 (age 43)
Eugene, Oregon
Playing career
Position(s)Defensive back
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
2001–2002Boise State (GA)
2003–2005California (LB)
2006–2009Boise State (DC)
2010–2011Tennessee (DC)
2012–2013Washington (DC)
2014–2015USC (DC)
2016Wisconsin (DC)
Head coaching record

Early yearsEdit

Born in Eugene, Oregon, Wilcox grew up as the younger of two sons on a family farm (wheat and cherries) in nearby Junction City. He played quarterback at Junction City High School and led the team to the 3A state title as a junior in 1993. He graduated in 1995 and considered Stanford and Arizona but followed family tradition and accepted a scholarship to Oregon under head coach Mike Bellotti.[2]

Playing careerEdit

After redshirting his first year at Oregon, Wilcox found himself buried on the depth chart and switched to defensive back. A nickel back as a redshirt freshman, he lost most the 1996 season to a knee injury. Wilcox became a fixture at safety until his senior season of 1999, when he was asked to fill a void at cornerback.[3] He was invited to an NFL training camp with the Washington Redskins in 2000, but did not make the final roster.[2] Wilcox graduated from Oregon in 1999 with a degree in anthropology.[4]

Coaching careerEdit

Assistant coaching careerEdit

Wilcox began his career as a college football coach in 2001 as a graduate assistant at Boise State, under new head coach Dan Hawkins. After two seasons as a graduate assistant, he left for the Bay Area to coach the linebackers at California under head coach Jeff Tedford.[3] After three seasons at Cal, Wilcox returned to Boise State in 2006 as the defensive coordinator under new head coach Chris Petersen. In four years the teams lost only four games, with a 49–4 (.925) record,[3] and his defenses were statistically among the highest-rated in the nation.[5]

Following the 2009 season, Wilcox accepted the defensive coordinator job at Tennessee under new head coach Derek Dooley. In late December 2010, it was reported that Wilcox was a candidate to replace Will Muschamp, who left Texas for Florida.[6] On New Year's Day, Wilcox announced that he would return to Tennessee for the 2011 season.[7]

Early on January 2, 2012, reports emerged that Wilcox was to become the new defensive coordinator at Washington in Seattle, under head coach Steve Sarkisian. The position was vacant due to Nick Holt's termination days earlier,[8] and the announcement was made official later that night.[9] The Huskies were 7–6 in 2012 and lost in the Las Vegas Bowl. Washington was 9–4 in 2013 and won the Fight Hunger Bowl; Sarkisian left after the regular season for USC.

Wilcox followed Sarkisian to USC and was the defensive coordinator; the Trojans went 9–4 in 2014 and won the Holiday Bowl. After five games in 2015, Sarkisian was fired and succeeded by Clay Helton. The Trojans finished 50th nationally in scoring defense (25.7 points per game) and 65th in total defense (400.8 yards per game) in 2015,[10] and Wilcox was terminated the day after the loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game.[11]

On January 28, 2016, Wilcox became the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin, under head coach Paul Chryst.[12] The Badgers went 11–3 and won the Cotton Bowl with a defense ranked in the top ten in a number of categories.[13]


On January 14, 2017, Wilcox was introduced as the 34th head coach of the California Golden Bears.[14] The Bears went 5–7 during Wilcox's first year in 2017, with wins over North Carolina, Ole Miss, and #8 Washington State, and three losses by three points or fewer.[15]

The Bears went 7–6 during Wilcox's second year in 2018. After the Bears upset #15 Washington 12–10 and defeated USC 15–14 at the Coliseum in Los Angeles to snap a 14-year losing streak to the Trojans,[16][17] the Bears lost 10–7 in overtime to TCU in the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl. The Bears’ offensive efficiency ranked as the second worst among all Power Five teams.[18]

The Bears improved to an 8–5 record under Wilcox in 2019. They achieved their highest ranking since 2009 when they were ranked No. 15 after a 4–0 start to the season.[19] After defeating Stanford in the Big Game for the first time since 2009, the Bears earned bowl-eligibility two years in a row, again for the first time since 2009.[20] The Bears went on to win 35-20 against Illinois in the 2019 Redbox Bowl.


Wilcox is the son of Dave Wilcox, an All-Pro linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[21] Inducted in 2000, he played 11 seasons in the National Football League (NFL), from 1964 to 1974, all with the 49ers.[3] From Vale in eastern Oregon, Dave played college football at Boise Junior College, then transferred to Oregon in 1962.

Justin's brother, Josh Wilcox, was three years ahead in school and played tight end for the Ducks and two seasons in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints. Justin's uncle John Wilcox also played in the NFL, in the early 1960s.[4]

Head coaching recordEdit

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
California Golden Bears (Pac-12 Conference) (2017–present)
2017 California 5–7 2–7 5th (North)
2018 California 7–6 4–5 5th (North) L Cheez-It
2019 California 8–5 4–5 2nd (North) W Redbox
California: 20–18 10–17
Total: 20–18

Coaching treeEdit

Head coaches under whom Wilcox has served:

Assistant coaches under Wilcox who became college head coaches:


  1. ^ "Justin Draper". Oregon Ducks. Archived from the original on March 4, 2000. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Bob Condotta (January 7, 2012). "How UW's Justin Wilcox grew from small-town kid to big-time coach". www.seattletimes.com. Seattle Times. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d "Justin Wilcox". www.utsports.com. University of Tennessee. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Justin Wilcox profile". Cal Athletics.
  5. ^ "Justin Wilcon". www.broncossports.com. Boise State University. Archived from the original on September 30, 2012.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  6. ^ "Vols' Wilcox ponders move to Texas". www.espn.com. ESPN Internet Venture. December 20, 2010. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  7. ^ Austin Ward (December 13, 2010). "Justin Wilcox committed to staying with Vols". www.GoVolsextra.com. Scripps Interactive Newspapers Group. Archived from the original on March 9, 2012. Retrieved January 13, 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  8. ^ Chris Low (January 2, 2012). "Vols lose assistants to Washington". www.ESPN.com. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  9. ^ "Wilcox, Sirmon Named To UW Football Staff". www.GoHuskies.com. University of Washington. January 2, 2012. Archived from the original on January 3, 2012. Retrieved January 13, 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  10. ^ Jeff Potrykus (January 27, 2016). "UW turns to ex-USC coordinator to lead defense". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  11. ^ Beacham, Greg (December 6, 2015). "USC's Helton fires 4 assistants, including Wilcox". Associated Press. Archived from the original on January 30, 2016. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
  12. ^ "Wilcox named defensive coordinator". www.uwbadgers.com. University of Wisconsin. January 28, 2016. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  13. ^ Galloway, Jason (January 2, 2017). "Badgers football: Justin Wilcox's first season at Wisconsin a major success". Wisconsin State Journal.
  14. ^ Wilner, Jon (January 14, 2017). "Cal officially names Justin Wilcox coach". San Jose Mercury News. (California). Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  15. ^ Wild, Andrew (November 30, 2017). "Cal football had severe highs, lows in Justin Wilcox's 1st year". The Daily Californian.
  16. ^ Simmons, Rusty (October 28, 2018). "Cal stuns No. 15 Washington with a 12-10 upset". San Francisco Chronicle.
  17. ^ "Defensive Cal snaps 14-game skid vs USC with 15-14 victory". Associated Press. ESPN.com. November 10, 2018.
  18. ^ Wild, Andrew (December 5, 2018). "Is a coaching change the answer for Cal's offense?". DailyCal.org. The Daily Californian.
  19. ^ "Unbeaten Cal moves up to No. 15 in Associated Press Top 25 poll". SF Chronicle. September 22, 2019. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  20. ^ "Instant analysis/reaction: Cal axes Stanford for 1st time since 2009, becomes bowl-eligible".
  21. ^ Greif, Andrew (September 28, 2017). "In Justin Wilcox's first season, Cal exceeding expectations entering Oregon matchup". The Oregonian.

External linksEdit