Justin Wilcox signed two contracts in 2018, one entirely new contract on Sept. 26 and then, after leading California to a 7-5 regular season, a 1-year extension with a raise on Dec. 5.
He earned $2.8 million, bonuses included, in 2018, and his extension puts his 5-year contract at $14 million in salary and $1.9 million in retention bonuses. Wilcox’s base salary will actually go down in 2019, to $2.5 million, but then move to $3.05 million in 2020, $3.3 million in ’21, $3.450 million in ’22 and, finally, $3.6 million in 2023.
And he’s still probably underpaid.
A 42-year-old with defensive coordinator experience at Boise State, Tennessee, Washington, USC and Wisconsin, Wilcox went 5-7 in his 2017 debut, 7-6 in 2018 and now has the Golden Bears at 3-0 so far this fall. Cal knocked off No. 14 Washington in Seattle and is one of just nine teams to hold all three opponents under 20 points thus far.
In an age where defensive coordinators rarely get head coaching jobs, Wilcox is one of the few young, up-and-coming defensive-minded head coaches.
And he would be extremely available if any school with pockets deeper than Cal’s come after him.
Wilcox’s new contract, the one he signed last September, put his 2019 buyout at $1.25 million. The extension lifted it, but not considerably. His buyout as it stands today is $3.25 million but should he (hypothetically speaking, of course) leave Cal for another job, that wouldn’t happen until after this regular season, at which point his buyout falls to $2.5 million.
Now, obviously, there’s a long, long, long way to go between today and the end of the regular season. Cal has road trips to Ole Miss, Oregon and Utah among its next five games, plus a home date with a feisty Arizona State team. Wilcox still hasn’t beaten Stanford — nor has any Cal head coach since 2009. November will see back-to-back Air Raid teams come to Berkeley in Washington State and USC.
Cal could arrive at the end of this season struggling for bowl eligibility, or it could be in contention for the Pac-12 North title. Either possibility is on the table, but in the even the latter happens, Wilcox will be a prized prospect for any blue-blood program looking for a young, defensive-minded head coach. And he can be had for a relatively bargain basement price.