Five Questions for Justin Wilcox
Photo by Al Sermeno/KLC Fotos
Now in his third season as UC Berkeley’s football coach, Justin Wilcox has already made his imprint on the program. His team played in a bowl game last season for the second time in seven years and broke a 14-year losing streak against the University of Southern California. Here, Wilcox talks about his football roots, his time at Cal, and his perfect day in Berkeley.
Q: Your dad, Dave Wilcox, enjoyed a Hall of Fame career as a linebacker with the San Francisco 49ers, and your brother and uncle also played in the NFL. What was it like growing up in a football household?
A: It was a part of our lives, but it wasn’t forced upon us. After he finished playing with the 49ers, my dad started farming. So our upbringing was just living in a small town—in Junction City, Oregon. Football was what we all did growing up, but it wasn’t like our dad made us go to tryouts and do all that stuff.
Q: You had a very successful season last year, with Cal being ranked in the top 25 at one point and even upsetting 15th-ranked Washington. How do you build on those milestones?
A: I think it’s consistency and making sure we give ourselves the best chance to win each game. ... It’s more the mentality of becoming a winner and making sure that permeates throughout the program.
Q: How have you managed to shape this team in such a short time?
A: I was fortunate to be around some great people as an assistant. ...I had a foundation of core values for what the program was going to be about. With that being said, it’s a new season and a whole new set of challenges, and we are eager to get back on the field to test ourselves again. Because we know we are going to have to be better to perform against the teams we are playing this year.
Q: Have you had a favorite moment from your time at Berkeley so far?
A: A lot of times, favorite experiences are the little things: a practice or a meeting. The wins are obviously great, but it’s the connections with the people and the connections with the team—those relationships are what make it really great.
Q: What’s your perfect day in the East Bay?
A: I like breakfast; I’m a Rick and Ann’s guy, right there by the Claremont [Club and Spa]. I’d go to work and then hike the Fire Trails at lunch, which is right behind the stadium and beautiful. And then I’d get a Zachary’s [Chicago Pizza] special; that would probably cap the day for me—after a big Cal win, of course.
For UC Berkeley’s football schedule this season, or to buy tickets, visit calbears.com.