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Reports: California in contract negotiations with Wisconsin DC Justin Wilcox for head coaching vacancy

The career assistant could lead his first program.

NCAA Football: Akron at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin Badgers could be searching for their third defensive coordinator in three seasons, if a report comes to fruition.

Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman first reported on Thursday night that California is “in contract negotiations” with current UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox to be its new head coach.’s Ryan Gorcey also confirmed that the Bears have entered negotiations with the career assistant coach.

The day has been filled with buzz about Wilcox moving back to the west coast, with Gorcey noting via Twitter on late Wednesday night that Wilcox was the “lead candidate” to replace Sonny Dykes.’s Jon McNamara reported some interesting information on the site’s Badgers’ Den forum ($) on Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, Feldman reported Wilcox interviewed for the job. If he does take the position it would be his first head coaching job and mark a return to Berkeley. Wilcox coached the linebackers for the Golden Bears from 2003-05. Since 2006, he has held the title of defensive coordinator at Boise State, Tennessee, Washington and USC.

After his stint with the Trojans, Wilcox took over a strong Badgers defensive unit for Dave Aranda, who left to become LSU’s defensive coordinator. UW’s defense did not miss a beat, however, as it was among the best in the nation in several categories.

The Badgers ranked third in rush defense (98.8 yards per game) and fourth in both scoring defense (15.6 points per game) and third-down conversion defense (27.9 percent). UW also finished seventh in total defense (301.4 yards per contest) and tied for second in the nation in interceptions with 22.

As Land of 10 and Wisconsin Sports Zone’s Zach Heilprin noted on Thursday night, Wilcox was set to make $950,000 this upcoming season. If he does leave, it will be interesting if head coach Paul Chryst looks internally or outside of the program in his search for the next leader of his defense.