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There is Justin Wilcox and Oregon speculation. Should Cal be concerned?

At this moment, I lean toward no.

NCAA Football: California at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

This is a speculation post. There are no official reports anywhere that California Golden Bears coach Justin Wilcox is a candidate for the Oregon Ducks coaching position.

However, it’s easy to connect the dots.

  • Wilcox’s alma mater is Oregon (interestingly Wilcox has never coached at Oregon on his many stops).
  • Oregon, having just been burned by an outsider in Willie Taggart, might be looking for a coach who will not stray from the nest.
  • Wilcox is very close to current Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, who has two years left of eligibility and was 6-1 as a starter in 2017.

So the chatter has begun from tons of media people, from Dan Wolken to Jon Wilner to Mike Bellotti. There is idle chatter that Oregon has Wilcox as a name to pursue. But there is nothing concrete.

First of all, Oregon would have to pay a hefty sum. Wilcox’s buyout is currently situated at $2.7 million. The Ducks are deep-pocketed, but to have to go in and pay extra for a coach that still has a lot to prove seems a bit drastic.

Secondly, Oregon is generally not a program that is likely to take a chance on an unproven commodity. Mark Helfrich was instutionally well-known in Eugene. Taggart had enjoyed years of success at Western Kentucky and South Florida (and in the basketball ranks, Dana Altman enjoyed years of success at Creighton).

As much as Cal fans seem to appreciate his first season of miracle work, Wilcox has had one year as a head coach where Cal went 5-7 and lost to Oregon backups by 21 points. That is a hard sell to an Oregon program that has made two title appearances the past decade. There are more proven coaches out there—names like Kevin Sumlin, Bryan Harsin, Mike Leach, and yes, even Jeff Tedford have been tossed around—that you’d have to guess would be more palatable to Oregon.

Finally, according to Steve Mims, Wilcox was interested in the Oregon coaching job last season after Helfrich was fired. He barely got a call from the Oregon AD. This also happened when the Oregon defensive coordinator job opened up after Nick Aliotti retired.

If that is true, I doubt he forgets that. Getting snubbed twice for job interviews with the program you grew up in has to sting.

So if you want to panic Cal fans, by all means panic. But given Oregon’s perception of their program, I’d guess the Ducks look elsewhere.