Derek Dooley’s search for a defensive coordinator since landing the Tennessee head job almost three weeks ago has turned up a handful of different names.
But with signing day upon us, it looks like Dooley could be close to getting his man.
Boise State defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox has emerged at the top of Dooley’s list and could be named as the Vols’ new coordinator as early as Wednesday or Thursday.
Nothing has been finalized, and Wilcox was still in Boise on Tuesday night. Nobody at Boise State or Tennessee was commenting publicly.
Dooley is plenty familiar with the 32-year-old Wilcox and has gone up against him the past three seasons in the WAC as Louisiana Tech’s head coach.
Ironically, Louisiana Tech scored the most points this past season against Boise State in a 45-35 loss in November.
Wilcox, a former player at Oregon, doesn’t have any ties to the SEC. In fact, he’s spent his entire career on the West Coast. He just finished his fourth season as Boise State’s defensive coordinator and was the linebackers coach at California for three seasons prior to that.
The Broncos finished 14th nationally in scoring defense and total defense this past season. In 2008, they were third nationally in scoring defense and 20th in total defense. The Broncos compiled a 26-1 record during those two seasons.
Wilcox’s defense had two of its better games in two of Boise State’s biggest games this past season. The Broncos shut down Oregon 19-8 to open the season and then clamped down on TCU in a 17-10 victory in the Fiesta Bowl.
Dooley, who met with Wilcox on Monday, has talked to several people about the Tennessee defensive coordinator’s job. He offered the position to Clemson’s Kevin Steele, who was close to coming, but changed his mind and elected to stay with the Tigers.
Dooley also made a run at Alabama’s Kirby Smart and discussed the job with North Carolina’s Everett Withers and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebackers coach Joe Barry, among others. Barry ended up joining Lane Kiffin's staff at Southern California.