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Cal defensive coordinator candidates: Is it Tosh Lupoi or bust?

Answer: No, it really isn’t.

NCAA Football: Utah at California John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

With Cal at the moment not likely to get Tosh Lupoi, the Bears have to start thinking about alternate candidates. I’m sure many Cal fans who were excited about the Wilcox hire would be disappointed if it didn’t include a Lupoi return.

Many of the football alumni are in full support of a Tosh return...

But for whatever reason, Lupoi seems hesitant. If he is, the Bears are going to have to move fast and find one of many other qualified candidates.

Still, this is Wilcox we’re talking about. He’s built his life around knowing every facet of defense. There are more than enough qualified coaches around the West Coast who Wilcox probably knows that could be hired in a pinch. Ultimately, the Cal offensive coordinator hire will be the instrumental decision since it’s not Wilcox’s forte. Nevertheless, getting a good defensive coordinator that is on the same page with the coach will be critical for what figures to be a transition season.

Let’s take a look at what candidates might be on the board aside from target numero uno.

Jimmy Lake, Washington co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach: Lake was rumored to be a Cal coaching candidate early in the process, and could still potentially be Wilcox’s defensive hire. If Cal were to land Lake, he could also potentially pull double duty as a secondary coach. Lake has shown deep interest in being a head coach one day. He would probably love the chance to run a major defense before taking the next step.

Lake is the complete package. Great coach, great recruiter. If Cal can land him, it’d be a very good hire.

Andy Avalos, Boise State defensive coordinator: Going back down the Boise State pipeline, Wilcox could turn to someone who played and coached with his former boss, Chris Petersen (similar to Lake and Washington). Avalos has proven to produce solid Boise State defenses during his time there, is young, is from the state of California, and can recruit well too. Avalos would be a solid plan.

Inoke Breckterfield, Wisconsin defensive line coach: If Wilcox is to take anyone on the Wisconsin staff with him to Cal, it’s going to be Breckterfield, and I’m not sure if it could be just a lateral move for him. An Oregon State grad who coached at UCLA and Pitt, Breckterfield has proven to be a very good recruiter of talent to a program with stricter academic standards at Wisconsin.

This is basically a Tosh-strategy. Find a dynamite recruiter who will execute your vision, pay him extra money with the defensive coordinator title, and then let most of the defensive strategy be taken care of by Wilcox.

Hardy Nickerson, Illinois defensive coordinator: If Cal wants to go down the legacy line, Nickerson’s credentials with regards to Cal are obvious. He has the Cal connect. He has lived in the Bay Area for quite some time before branching out into major football coaching. He coached Bishop O’Dowd for several years before taking on the role of linebackers coach with the Bucs and defensive coordinator with the Illini under Lovie Smith. He would probably love the opportunity to come home and be the head of a defensive-minded Cal football squad.

Ron English, San Jose State defensive coordinator. Another wild card candidate with the Cal background, English has defensive coordinator experience from his time with Lloyd Carr at Michigan in 2006-07, with a stint at Louisville in 2008 under Steve Kragthorpe. English is coming off a significantly rough stint with Eastern Michigan, which ended in rather ugly fashion. So I’m not sure if English is exactly in the best form at the moment.

Scott White, UCLA linebackers coach & Angus McClure, UCLA defensive line coach: I don’t think we have a chance at either of them, but I just wanted to see if we could cause further chaos with our baby brothers. Blowing up a Bruin recruiting class might be worth the inexperience we get with White and McClure. Both are great recruiters (particularly McClure) and already are monitoring California recruiting very closely.

Justin Ena, Utah linebackers coach: Ena is probably a weird name to throw into the mix, but he does have defensive coordinator experience at Weber State and Southern Utah. He has never left the state of Utah, so he might not be interested in doing so, but his defenses have generally been stout at all his stops. Ena has had good results at Utah. Why not give him a run at it?