Huskies add 2 ex-Ducks to defensive staff

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by Sportspress Northwest Staff

SportsPressNorthwest

Posted on January 4, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Two University of Oregon grads and former Ducks football teammates, coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon, filled the vacant posts at the  University of Washington Monday.

The pair were hired away from the University of Tennessee, where Wilcox had been coordinator for two seasons after four at Boise State. Sirmon completed his first season with the Volunteers after a seven-year NFL playing career.

Washington issued a press release Monday afternoon after the story was first reported on espn.com Monday morning.

“I am excited to welcome Justin and Peter to Washington,” coach Steve Sarkisian said in the statement, “as they are two of the brightest young coaches in the country. Both are natives of the Northwest and have strong recruiting ties in the area, which complements their tremendous coaching abilities.”

“I’m grateful for this opportunity,” Wilcox said. “Washington is a place where you can win big, and I’m excited to work with Coach Sarkisian in developing a championship-caliber football program. Our first order of business is hitting the recruiting trail, and I can’t wait to get started.” The hires come two days after Sarkisian fired defensive coordinator Nick Holt, linebackers coach Mike Cox and safeties coach Jeff Mills.

The three were fired after the Huskies gave up 777 total yards and 67 points against Baylor in the Alamo Bowl. The yards were the most given up in the school's 121-year history, and the points were second most.

The Volunteers had a 5-7 season but a bright spot was the defense, which averaged 340.5 yards and 22.6 points against, both numbers in the FBS's top 35.

Wilcox, 35, a native of Junction City, Ore., was a defensive back for the Ducks from 1995-99. Sirmon, 35, who grew up in Walla Walla and was Wilcox's college roommate, was with the Ducks from 1996-99 and was an All-Pac-10 Conference linebacker. He was drafted by Tennessee in 2000 and had a seven-year NFL career, all with the Titans.

At Boise State, Wilcox defenses led the WAC in total defense and scoring defense each year.

Wilcox coached six seasons in Boise, also working as a graduate assistant for the Broncos from 2001-02. In  2007 and 2006, the Broncos led the WAC in rushing defense. In his first year, Boise State was eighth nationally against the run and his defensive scheme was instrumental in helping that 2006 squad to a 13-0 record and the famous 43-42 overtime win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. During his time at BSU, the Broncos were 49-4.

Wilcox also coached linebackers at Cal from 2003-05, helping the Bears to a 26-12 record and three bowl games. In his first year at Tennessee in 2010, he helped lead the Volunteers to to a bowl game by holding four straight November opponents to 14 or fewer points.

Wilcox and Sirmon are the latest in a string of departures from Tennessee, which is still struggling to rebuild after back-to-back coaching turnovers following the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett and tight ends and special teams coach Eric Russell also have left the staff of Volunteers coach Derek Dooley.

Wilcox, son of Dave Wilcox, All-Pro linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000, was set to earn $700,000 at Tennessee in 2012. Holt made $650,000 this year and will receive the same salary in 2012 from Washington to not coach.

Prior to Tennessee, Sirmon spent the 2009 season as a graduate assistant at Oregon, helping his alma mater to the Pac-10 championship and a Rose Bowl berth. In 2008, he coached linebackers at Central Washington, which completed a 10-1 regular season and earned a trip to the NCAA Division II playoffs. He spent the 2010 season as a graduate assistant for the Vols and was promoted to linebackers coach for 2011. He was set to earn $175,000 in 2012.

Washington's 2011 defense set school records for most points allowed, total touchdowns, yards passing allowed and total yards allowed.

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