Justin Wilcox, who was fired by new USC head coach Clay Helton, is reportedly joining Wisconsin as the Badgers’ defensive coordinator.
Justin Wilcox never got the chance to coach against Wisconsin in the Holiday Bowl, but now he has the opportunity to coach for the Badgers in 2016, according to a report by Football Scoop.
The former USC defensive coordinator who was fired by Clay Helton after a dismal defensive display against Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship game will have tough shoes to fill in Madison. When Dave Aranda left the Badgers this offseason to take over as defensive coordinator at LSU, he left behind one of the nation’s top defenses. Wilcox will be in charge of keeping the unit on top.
Wilcox’s hiring only continues the interesting USC-Wisconsin connections which have cropped up since December. The two schools were paired together for the Holiday Bowl in San Diego while rumors swirled that the Trojans could attempt to draw Aranda, a Southern California native, away to fill their defensive coordinator opening.
Instead Aranda joined former USC defensive line coach Ed Orgeron at LSU while the Trojans re-hired former USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, who worked with Orgeron in 2013.
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Wilcox was also linked to the open Oregon defensive coordinator position, but the Ducks brought in former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke to handle those duties instead.
Under Wilcox, USC’s defense was equal parts effective and disastrous, depending on the opponent and especially the quarter. In 2014, the unit because known for blowing big leads late in games, including conceding an improbable comeback to Arizona State at the Coliseum on a Hail Mary.
In 2015, the defense generated game-changing turnovers regularly in games, including the Trojans upset of No. 3 Utah and the rivalry victory over UCLA. However, Wilcox’s defense was undone by Vernon Adams at Oregon and Christian McCaffrey against Stanford in the Pac-12 title game, prompting Helton to part ways with the Steve Sarkisian hire.