Justin Wilcox, who has spent his coaching career building solid defenses, faces quite a challenge at his new job.
The former Wisconsin defensive coordinator was officially appointed as head coach at California on Saturday as the replacement for offensive-minded Sonny Dykes.
The Golden Bears' defense was atrocious in 2016 and finished last among 128 FBS teams in total defense (554.3 yards per game) and next-to-last in scoring defense (42.6 points per game).
Wilcox, 40, was an assistant coach at Cal from 2003-05 and is happy to be back on campus.
"It has been a dream of mine to lead a college football program and there's no better place than here at Cal where I got my start and at a school that means so much to me," Wilcox said in a statement. "I would like to thank Director of Athletics Mike Williams and his staff for putting their trust in me with the Cal football program. I'm looking forward to getting to know our team and hiring our staff, and we will get to work immediately recruiting student-athletes of high character who are good fits for Cal both academically and athletically."
Before spending the 2016 season as the Badgers' defensive coordinator, Wilcox ran defenses at Boise State, Tennessee, Washington and USC.
"Justin just led the No. 7 defense in the country at Wisconsin and his teams have consistently ranked among the best in the nation," Williams said in a statement. "I am confident we have found someone who is clearly the right fit for Cal."
The Badgers were fourth in scoring defense (15.6 points per game) and seventh in total defense (301.4) this season. Wisconsin also ranked third in rushing defense (98.8).
"I'm truly very thankful for all that Justin did for our program and how he did it," Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said in a statement. "In one year he had a big impact on our players, our staff and our families. He's very deserving of this opportunity. I'm extremely happy for him and wish him all the best."
Wilcox played college football at Oregon was a second-team All-Pac-10 selection as a senior.
His college coach, Mike Bellotti, always felt that Wilcox eventually would become a head coach.
"Justin was one of the most competitive and knowledgeable players that I've ever had the opportunity to coach," Bellotti said in a statement. "It has never surprised me that he has become a great coach because he understands football, he understands the student-athletes and he can coach 'em up.
"His understanding of the game and his willingness to prepare will make Cal a better football program."
The Golden Bears were 5-7 in 2016 and 19-30 in Dykes' four seasons.
Dykes was fired on Jan. 8.