RUMOR: Cal coach Justin Wilcox reportedly interviews at Arizona after Jedd Fisch hired at Washington
The departure of Nick Saban at Alabama now has cascading effects that could impact the California Golden Bears.
There was idle speculation that Justin Wilcox could be considered for the Washington Huskies opening, but it doesn’t seem like he was ever a serious candidate. Washington eventually settled on Arizona coach Jedd Fisch for a deal averaging around $7.75 million a year, using buyout money from Kalen DeBoer’s departure to Alabama to settle Fisch’s buyout.
Now it’s being reported by Jason Scheer of 247Sports that Justin Wilcox has been in the mix for the Arizona job. This was sourced by Ralph Amsden of Arizona Rivals.
Some thoughts below on this:
While it’s good story, the financial math doesn’t quite add up.
Arizona offered Jedd Fisch $5.1 million a year before he left for Washington. Obviously, Washington offered a lot more, so he took it.
Justin Wilcox makes $4.75 million per year at Cal. While it is feasible for the Wildcats to potentially outpay Cal, I'm skeptical Arizona makes a similar offer to Wilcox as Fisch. So there would be no significant boost in pay.
So this would have to be for reasons other than money, but even those don’t hold up under close scrutiny.
Does the Arizona athletic department provides more institutional support over Cal? Historically, yes. But Arizona’s financial troubles are hard to overlook.
Arizona finished 11th in the nation last year and could be ready to succeed immediately. But who knows how many Wildcats will transfer out or portal to Washington to follow their head coach.
Could the geographic proximity of the Big 12 be more enticing for Wilcox? But even then there will still be occasional road trips to Cincinnati, West Virginia and UCF baked in.
So the angle I’d be guessing is that Wilcox is aiming for is another contract extension (or amendment) at Cal. It’s also possible that Wilcox could be angling some sort of assurances from the athletic department for better institutional support for the program, and using interviews with other programs as leverage for that.
It’s been a pretty good close of the season for the Bears, with a top portal class incoming and a bowl game on top of that as they prepare for life in the ACC. I’d consider the odds of Wilcox jumping fairly remote, given that there are relatively few factors favoring Arizona over Cal, and the general positivity athletic director Jim Knowlton has shown toward Wilcox in the past.