Northwestern hires Raiders’ O’Neil as defensive coordinator

Northwestern Football

Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil before an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

EVANSTON, Ill. (AP)Northwestern hired Las Vegas Raiders defensive backs coach Jim O’Neil as defensive coordinator on Wednesday.

O’Neil spent three seasons on Jon Gruden’s staff in Oakland and Las Vegas, the past two as defensive backs coach. He has more than a decade of NFL coaching experience, including stints as defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns (2014-15) and the San Francisco 49ers (2016).

O’Neil said in a statement he is ”ecstatic” to join a program ”that excels academically and athletically at such a high level.” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald touted his ”unparalleled passion for teaching.”

O’Neil takes over for the retired Mike Hankwitz. Northwestern boasted one of the conference’s stingiest defenses last season and won the Big Ten West for the second time in three years on the way to a 7-2 record.

O’Neil was a defensive lineman at Towson, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in sports management. He holds master’s degrees from SUNY-Albany and Northwestern.

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