Justin Wilcox

Cal's Wilcox talks hiring former UO O-Line coach Steve Greatwood

Cal's Wilcox talks hiring former UO O-Line coach Steve Greatwood

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - When California named Justin Wilcox head football coach on Jan. 14 he wasted little time extending a job offer to former Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood. 

"Whatever day it was that I got hired, I want to say that he was there the next morning," Wilcox, a former Oregon defensive back, said today during Pac-12 Media Days. 

In fact, Wilcox already had Greatwood in place in anticipation of landing the Cal job. Cal announced Wilcox as its next head coach on Jan. 14.  CSN broke the news that same day that Greatwood would be headed to Cal.

"I think the world of him as a person," Wilcox, 40, said. "I think his track record speaks for itself in terms of his coaching and we're fortunate to have him on our staff. He's the type of guy that everybody can learn from. I know he's energized. It's been really great to be back around him. It's been a number of years since I've got to see him a lot. Just really fortunate for us. A lot of experience."

Wilcox and Greatwood, 59, have Oregon connections but weren't there at the same time. Wilcox played defensive back for the Ducks from 1996 through 1999.  Greatwood coached offensive line and tight ends from 1982 through 1994 before moving on to the NFL, Maryland and then USC. He returned to Oregon in 2000 and remained there until the entire staff was let go last fall following a 4-8 season.  

Greatwood, however, did coach Wilcox's older brother Josh, who played tight end at UO from 1993 through 1996. The Wilcox brothers are the sons of Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker and former Oregon star Dave Wilcox and hail from Junction City, Ore. 

California running back Tre Watson, whom Greatwood helped attempt recruit to Oregon, said the offensive line appears to be responding well to its new coach. 

"He definitely makes it simper for the offensive line so they're able to pick things up," Watson said. "He brings a different dynamic."

Sources: Former Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood headed to Cal

Sources: Former Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood headed to Cal

Former Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood will join new California coach Justin Wilcox's staff, according to sources. 

Greatwood spent 27 of his 37-year coaching career at Oregon with 24 years devoted to coaching the offensive line.  He and the rest of Oregon's assistant coaches lost their jobs when former Ducks' coach Mark Helfrich was fired last Nov. 29. 

Greatwood began his career at Oregon as a graduate assistant in 1980 before becoming a full-time assistant in 1982. He coached offensive linemen and tight ends from 1982 to 1993 before becoming strictly the offensive line coach in 1994. That season the Ducks won the Pac-10 Conference championship under coach Rich Brooks. 

Brooks became the coach of the Los Angeles Rams the following season and took Greatwood with him to coach tight ends in 1995 and then offensive line in 1996. 

Greatwood then spent one year at Maryland and then two seasons at USC before landing back at Oregon in 2000 to coach defensive line. 

It was during Greatwood's time away from Oregon that Wilcox played defensive back for the Ducks from 1996 through 1999. However, Greatwood did coach Wilcox's brother, Josh Wilcox, who played tight end at Oregon from 1993 through 1996. 

Greatwood coached the Ducks defensive linemen until 2005 when he returned to coaching the offensive line throughout the rest of his career at Oregon. Along the way he helped mold offensive lines that helped the Ducks win four conference championships, win two Rose Bowls and appear in two national title games.

He did one of his best coaching jobs in 2014 when the Ducks reached the national title game. Along the way, Greatwood dealt with several injuries that forced him to juggle lineups in order to keep Oregon's offense humming.

Greatwood produced seven offensive linemen during that stretch, Adam Snyder, Mark Asper, Geoff Schwartz, Darrion Weems, Hroniss Grasu, Kyle Long and Jake Fisher. 

Those linemen helped pave the way for several great Oregon running backs, including Jonathan Stewart, LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, De'Anthony Thomas and Royce Freeman. James, Freeman and Barner are Oregon's top three all-time leading rushers. 

Greatwood will be replaced at Oregon by Mario Cristobal. The former Alabama assistant will also operate as the Ducks offensive coordinator under new coach Willie Taggart.  

Greatwood leaves Oregon with a strong stable of offensive linemen, including four talented players who started in 2016 as redshirt freshmen. The group, which includes senior Tyrell Crosby, could be considered the most gifted group Oregon has ever had.