BERKELEY – Cal head coach Justin Wilcox announced Tuesday that Jerry Azzinaro has agreed to become the Golden Bears' defensive line coach.
Azzinaro has coached for 35 seasons at the collegiate and professional levels including the last four campaigns in the NFL with Philadelphia (2013-15) and San Francisco (2016). His most recent collegiate coaching position was at Oregon (2009-12).
"Jerry Azzinaro is regarded as one of the top defensive line coaches in the business," Wilcox said. "The success he had and expertise he gained in over three decades as a collegiate coach gave him the opportunity to work in the NFL the past four seasons and add to his vast knowledge of the game. I'm looking forward to Jerry bringing to our football program everything he has experienced at both the collegiate and professional levels."
"I'm excited to be joining the coaching staff at Cal," Azzinaro said. "Justin Wilcox is putting together a tremendous staff that will have the expertise and knowledge to capitalize on an opportunity to build one of the top programs in the Pac-12 and the nation."
Azzinaro has coached four first-round NFL Draft picks during his career in Arik Armstead (San Francisco, 2015), DeForest Buckner (San Francisco, 2016), Dwight Freeney (Indianapolis, 2002) and Dion Jordan (Miami, 2013).
Azzinaro finished his recent four-year NFL tenure in San Francisco in 2016, where he reunited with former Oregon defensive ends Armstead and Buckner with the latter earning a spot on the league's Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie team. Buckner finished the season with 73 tackles and a team-high-tying 6.0 sacks.
Azzinaro's three campaigns in Philadelphia began with a playoff season, an NFC East title and a 10-6 regular-season record that was a six-game turnaround from 2012. The Eagles tied for third in the NFL with 31 takeaways.
In 2014, the Eagles' matched their 10-6 mark of the previous campaign but fell just short of the playoffs despite a defense that tied for the second-most sacks in the NFL (49.0) and ranked tied for fourth in yards allowed per carry (3.7). Defensive end Fletcher Cox earned second-team AP All-Pro honors registering 61 tackles, 4.0 sacks and three fumble recoveries, while defensive end Vinny Curry had a career-high 9.0 sacks.
Cox had another big season in 2015 with career highs of 71 tackles and 9.5 sacks that led to a second straight second-team AP All-Pro selection and his first Pro Bowl pick.
During his four years at Oregon, the Ducks played in BCS bowls each season and in the BCS National Championship Game following the 2010 campaign. Oregon also won Pac-10 titles in each of his first three seasons, reached the Pac-12 championship game in his fourth and posted an overall record of 46-7.
Oregon led the Pac-12 in sacks twice (2009, '11) and tackles for loss once (2010) during Azzinaro's tenure that began in 2009 when the Ducks paced the Pac-10 and ranked tied for 14th nationally in sacks (36.0, 2.77 spg). Defensive end Kenny Rowe led the league and ranked tied for ninth nationally in sacks (11.5, 0.88 spg) while also earning Rose Bowl Defensive Player of the Game honors after his 3.0 sacks equaled the contest's single-game mark.
In 2010, the Ducks won their first 12 games before falling to Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game. Oregon led the Pac-10 and ranked seventh nationally in tackles for loss (97.0, 7.46 tflpg) while finishing second in the conference and 12th nationally in scoring defense (18.7 ppg).
Oregon led the Pac-10 and ranked fifth nationally in sacks (45.0, 3.21 spg) in 2011 when the Ducks finished 12-2 overall and defeated Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl with Jordan earning all-conference honors.
His final season at Oregon in 2012 ended with a Fiesta Bowl victory and a 12-1 record as the Ducks led the nation in takeaways (40) and turnover margin (1.62). Jordan earned first-team all-conference honors for the second straight season and was selected third overall by the Miami Dolphins in the 2013 NFL Draft after combining for 24.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks during his two all-conference campaigns.
Azzinaro also had three stints as a defensive coordinator at Duke (2004-06), Massachusetts (1994, 1997) and American International College (1987-91). He began his career as a graduate assistant on defense at his alma mater American International College (1982-84) and has also had other stops at Westfield State (1985), Western New England (1986), Massachusetts (1992-93), Boston College (1995-96), Maine (1998) and Syracuse (1999-2003).
Azzinaro mentored defensive end Freeney during an All-American career at Syracuse that would lead to seven Pro Bowl and four All-Pro selections as well as a Super Bowl XLI champion. Freeney was a unanimous All-American as a 2001 senior at Syracuse and earned first-team All-Big East honors in each of his final two campaigns in 2000 and 2001. The 1999 Syracuse team finished 10-3 overall and ranked No. 14 in the final national polls.
Azzinaro played linebacker at American International College (1978-81) and led his team in tackles as a 1981 senior. He received his bachelor's degree from the school in psychology in 1982 and his master's in educational psychology in 1985.
Azzinaro is married to Alison Rourke.
JERRY AZZINARO FILE
Birthdate: July 11, 1958
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
High School: Tottenville HS
College: American International College, 1982, Bachelor's in Psychology; American International College, 1985, Master's in Educational Psychology
Family: Wife, Alison
*Season: Team – Position (Champions, Postseason)
1982: American International College – Graduate Assistant, Defense
1983: American International College – Graduate Assistant, Defense
1984: American International College – Graduate Assistant, Defense
1985: Westfield State – Linebackers/Running Backs
1986: Western New England – Head Coach
1987: American International College – Defensive Coordinator
1988: American International College – Defensive Coordinator
1989: American International College – Defensive Coordinator
1990: American International College – Defensive Coordinator
1991: American International College – Defensive Coordinator
1992: Massachusetts – Linebackers/Recruiting Coordinator
1993: Massachusetts – Linebackers/Recruiting Coordinator
1994: Massachusetts – Defensive Coordinator
1995: Boston College – Defensive Line
1996: Boston College – Defensive Line
1997: Massachusetts – Defensive Coordinator (Colonial Athletic Association New England Division Champions)
1998: Maine – Defensive Line
1999: Syracuse – Defensive Line/Recruiting Coordinator (Music City Bowl)
2000: Syracuse – Defensive Line/Recruiting Coordinator
2001: Syracuse – Defensive Line/Recruiting Coordinator (Insight.com Bowl)
2002: Syracuse – Defensive Line/Recruiting Coordinator
2003: Syracuse – Defensive Line/Recruiting Coordinator
2004: Duke – Defensive Coordinator
2005: Duke – Defensive Coordinator
2006: Duke – Defensive Coordinator
2007: New Hampshire – Defensive Line (FCS Playoffs)
2008: Marshall – Defensive Line
2009: Oregon – Defensive Line (Pac-10 Champion, Rose Bowl)
2010: Oregon – Defensive Line (Pac-10 Champion, BCS National Championship Game)
2011: Oregon – Defensive Line (Pac-10 Champion, Rose Bowl)
2012: Oregon – Defensive Line (Pac-12 North Division Champion, Fiesta Bowl)
2013: Philadelphia (NFL) – Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line (NFC East Champion, NFL Wild Card Round)
2014: Philadelphia (NFL) – Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line
2015: Philadelphia (NFL) – Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line
2016: San Francisco (NFL) – Defensive Line
*Season in which postseason games were played