Justin Wilcox Fallout: How Wisconsin Badgers Move Forward
As the Wisconsin Badgers search for their third defensive coordinator in as many years, the fallout from the departure of Justin Wilcox and how the program moves forward.
Pretty crazy to think that despite what has become a revolving door of defensive coordinators as of late, the Wisconsin Badgers never missed a beat. Dave Aranda stuck around for a couple of years, even after Gary Andersen left and Paul Chryst came in. That lasted until LSU through a few more dollars his way. In comes Justin Wilcox, and all he did was have the Badgers continue to be one of the most dominating defenses of last season. It was a great year, but along came the Cal Bears calling, and Wilcox answered to fill their head coach vacancy. Once again, the Badgers find themselves looking to move forward and not miss a beat with their third defensive coordinator in as many years.
For starters, on a recruiting stand point, this departure will not affect a thing. He didn’t really hit the recruiting trail while defensive backs coach Jim Leonard, defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield, and some of the other assistant coaches on the Badgers staff were hot on the trail. Plus, some very talented defensive recruits were attracted to Wisconsin because of the success they have had in recent years.
Secondly, is this defense going to recede that much without Wilcox? Sure the Badgers are going to be without some big name pieces like T.J. Watt, Vince Biegel, and Sojourn Shelton. But in recent years, they’ve been loading up on talent. Inside linebacker and the team’s leading tackler T.J. Edwards returns, along with his playing mate Ryan Connelly who was sixth on the team in tackles. D’Cota Dixon and Derrick Tindal return, as well as Badgers defensive linemen Alec James, Chikwe Obsih, and Olive Sagapolu. There are also a number of under classmen coming up through the ranks that look to make a big step in the next season or two.
Finally, in my opinion, defensive coordinator of Wisconsin is a very attractive job that could attract some outside of the program or even within. The Badgers will have plenty of names to choose from and will look to make an educated decision when that time comes. Outside linebackers coach Tim Tibesar was a name that was heard a lot last year when there was a vacancy at defensive coordinator. Don’t be shocked to see that name ramped up even more this time around. There are also names from outside of Madison that could be attracted to the position, some with ties to the program, others that do not. Time will tell just who the Badgers will hire, but chances are they will receive a good one.
Wilcox was one hell of a defensive coordinator and one that kept Wisconsin as one of the best all around in college football. The transition was very smooth from Aranda to Wilcox, and no doubt I believe that same will hold true once Wisconsin finds Wilcox’s replacement. Will there be a step back? Slightly, yes. But the way this defense is set up and the talent coming up through the ranks, I don’t see any major setbacks in the foreseeable future with this group.
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