REPORT: Cal set to hire Badgers DC Justin Wilcox as next head coach

The Wisconsin Badgers football program just can’t go an offseason without some big change happening it seems. A year after being hired to replace Dave Aranda, it appears as if Wisconsin defensive coordinator is off to the Pac-12 and the Cal head coaching job.

Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman is reporting the two sides are in final contract negotiations:

Who can blame the Bears after watching what Wilcox was able to do with the Badgers defense this past season. All he did was take the already top-notch defense and make it even better with a ball-hawking secondary.

Wilcox was also the interim head coach for USC when Wisconsin took them out in the Holiday Bowl following the 2015 season.

With Wilcox in the fold, the Badgers went from struggling to get turnovers in the backfield to leading the Big Ten with 22 interceptions this past season. Newly hired secondary coach Jim Leonhard also had a big hand in that turnaround.

Speaking of Leonhard, sources within the program believe it is a strong possibility that he becomes Wilcox’s replacement. Even though he has been a coach for only one season, there seems to be an easy understanding between the players and Leonhard.

He also seems to have caught the eye of head coach Paul Chryst for the way he works with his players and understands the game as a coach. Additionally, Leonhard has been a great recruiter quickly in his career, with player responding not only to his story, but to his personality as well.

Given the seemingly revolving door at UW with assistant coaches, this would also be a move to help bring some stability to a coaching staff that could use just that on the defensive side of the ball. We could also see former UW safety Aaron Henry come back home, with many believing he is a rising star, having worked with Bret Bielema at Arkansas and taking on the secondary coaching role at Rutgers this past year.

Of course, this is all early days, but don’t be surprised to see Chryst make a move that would surprise outsiders here.