Justin Wilcox attempts to steady Cal football in first press conference

Wisconsin Athletic Communications/Courtesy

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Standing up for his first press conference as the new head coach of the Cal football team, Justin Wilcox appeared as prepared and upbeat as possible considering he is inheriting a flailing program.

Wilcox was introduced by Cal Athletics Director Mike Williams, who continually highlighted the importance of the athletics program as a symbol of the all-around success of the students at the university.

“Justin is a smart, driven person of high character with a proven record of success at the highest levels of college football,” Williams said.

When Wilcox walked up to the podium, he echoed Williams’ sentiments, ensuring that he would make sure that the program regained its footing as a premier college football program as well as a center for student-athlete success. He ran through his successful track record at Wisconsin, USC and other programs, and he assured listeners that he would do what had to be done in order to ensure that winning ways would be brought back to Cal.

“The goal here is pretty simple: It’s really just to consistently compete for championships, graduate our student-athletes and leave them with a fulfilling experience here in Berkeley,” Wilcox said.

During the question-answer segment of the press conference, Williams appeared to intentionally skirt a question regarding assistant coach compensation, a move that is unsurprising considering the recent reports of the incredible amount of debt in the Cal Athletics program. Turning to more play-related questions, Wilcox spoke of changing his recruiting decisions, specifically in regard to the physical attributes and position flexibility of the players he would recruit, but did not go into deep details about game tactics.

What was echoed continually throughout the conference was Wilcox’s, and Cal Athletics’, desire to highlight the importance of academics. Repeatedly, Wilcox said he was looking for players who would want to succeed both on the field and in the classroom — a sentiment supported by Williams as well. The focus on academics is one of the few things the new coaching staff will be looking to continue from the former coaching administration. Former head coach Sonny Dykes, during his tenure, helped to improve the graduation rates of his athletes.

Certainly, Wilcox appears to be a deviation from the ways of Dykes, which considering the less than successful on-field track record of the program in recent history, bodes well.

Sophie Goethals is the assistant sports editor. Contact her at [email protected]