A 25-year coaching veteran who has been influential in preparing many players for the NFL, Mike Cox is in his second season as the Wildcats' linebacker coach. A 1989 graduate of the University of Idaho, Cox spent the previous three seasons as Washington's linebackers coach and, prior to joining the Huskies, worked two seasons (2007-08) for the St. Louis Rams, coaching the secondary and linebackers.
Cox made an instant impact on the Wildcat linebackers in 2012 as he tutored three All-Big 12 performers, including All-American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Arthur Brown. Under Cox's tutelage, Brown was named a finalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy and a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award. He also helped K-State finish first in the Big 12 in scoring defense as the Wildcats yielded 22.1 points per game and finish second in the conference and 10th in school history in fewest rushing yards allowed per game. In addition, Kansas State's 376.5 yards allowed per game were the third-fewest in the conference.
Cox was vital to the success at Washington in his three years as he tutored Cort Dennison to All-Pac-12 honors in 2011 before coaching one of the conference's top linebacker groups in 2010. Senior Mason Foster led the league and finished second in the nation with 163 total tackles, most by a Pac-10 player since 1989. Foster earned first team All-Pac-10 and first team All-America. Meanwhile, Victor Aiyewa finished first the conference and seventh in the nation in tackles per loss, while Dennison was seventh in the league in total tackles.
In his first season as the UW linebackers coach in 2009, Cox helped oversee one of the Huskies' strongest units. Washington's 2009 linebackers corps was led by veterans Donald Butler, and Foster. Those two combined for 193 tackles, including 94 from Butler, who was a second-team All-Pac-10 selection. Cox also helped coach a defense that made vast improvements over the previous season as opponents' total offense was reduced by an average of 62 yards per game and opponents scored 12 fewer points per game than in 2008.
Cox, a native of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, joined the UW staff from the St. Louis Rams, where he worked for two seasons. In 2007, he was a defensive quality control/defensive line coach before moving to assistant secondary coach in 2008. After a mid-season coaching change, he became linebackers coach for the Rams. Before his time in the NFL, Cox spent four seasons as linebackers coach at Michigan State, where he was also recruiting coordinator in 2006.
Much of Cox's coaching career has been spent on the various coaching staffs of John L. Smith. In all, Cox served 17 seasons on a Smith staff at Michigan State, Louisville, Utah State and Idaho.
He coached the linebackers for five seasons at Louisville (1998-2002), helping the Cardinals to consecutive Conference USA championships in 2000 and 2001. He coached three All-CUSA selections and, in 2000, was part of a defense that forced an NCAA-best 37 turnovers. The 2002 Louisville team was 17th in the nation in rushing defense and 22nd in total defense.
From 1995-97, he was on the staff at Utah State, where he coached a pair of All-Big West linebackers, David Gill and Tony D'Amato. In 1995, Gill broke Utah State's season record for tackles with 168. Utah State won back-to-back Big West Conference championships in 1996 and 1997.
As an assistant at Idaho (1987-94) coaching linebackers and defensive line, Cox helped his alma mater to a combined record of 73-26 (.733) from 1987-94, winning four Big Sky Conference championships and finishing in the top 10 five times. In 1994, the Vandals led the Big Sky in rushing defense, allowing only 65.3 yards per game.
Cox earned four letters as a linebacker at Idaho from 1983-86, starting for three seasons. He played for head coaches Dennis Erickson and Keith Gilbertson. He still ranks among the Vandals' all-time leaders with 252 career tackles.
Cox earned a bachelor's degree in general studies from Idaho in 1989. He and his wife, Jill, have three children, Zac, Jake and Addison.