Head Coach Mark Helfrich spent little time making changes to his struggling defense from this past season. A defense that according to oregonlive.com ended the season, “ranked 93rd or worse nationally in eight defensive categories.” Don Pellum- former defensive coordinator- was demoted to linebacker coach this past Monday. Pellum spent the last two seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Ducks before his demotion five days ago.
With an open position in defense Oregon is ready to begin its search for a new defensive coordinator. According to from 24/7 sports sources say the first three candidates to be interviewed are Justin Wilcox, Brady Hoke, and Peter Sirmon. The excitement continued yesterday as news broke out that USC’s sure hire, for their defensive coordinator opening, Clancy Pendergast was possibly considering a move to Oregon after news broke that the program was willing to pay upwards of a million for Pendergast. Unfortunately, for Oregon, Pendergast went with USC thus returning to handle the reigns of his former school.
On the positive side, Wilcox and Sirmon both have ties to Oregon, since the two were teammates in the past. Wilcox played cornerback for the Ducks back in the late 90’s and started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Boise State. He also has previous experience as a defensive coordinator for Boise State, Tennesse, Washington, and USC before leaving at the end of the 2015 season. Wilcox’s knowledge of the program and experience as a defensive coordinator will surely aid him if he is hired.
Peter Sirmon is currently at USC as the linebacker coach where he worked under his former teammate Justin Wilcox. Like Wilcox, Sirmon became a coach, after a few seasons in the NFL with the Tennesse Titans, and is looking to return to Oregon for the open position. Unlike Wilcox, Sirmon has no previous experience as a defensive coordinator, which could cause some concern to the Oregon staff. However, the recent need for an outside linebacker coach at Oregon could also be a possibility for Sirmon.
Former head Michigan man Brady Hoke is also said to be a target for Oregon. Hoke has been the head coach for Ball State, San Diego State, and Michigan. He led the Wolverines from 2010 to 2014. Hoke saw success in his first year in Ann Arbor guiding the Wolverines to an 11-2 season and a win in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. In four seasons Hoke led Michigan to a 31-20 record and three bowl appearances.
Oregon has yet to release any statements about when hiring will begin. The Ducks will likely take their time with the decision in hope that this next hire will create a more consistent and threatening defense.