Northwestern hires Raiders' O'Neil as defensive coordinator

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FILE - Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald responds to a question during Big Ten Conference NCAA college football media days in Chicago, in this Friday, July 19, 2019, file photo. Northwestern and coach Pat Fitzgerald have agreed to a new contract through the 2030 season. The 46-year-old Fitzgerald is by far the program's winningest coach with a 106-81 record since he took over at his alma mater in 2006 following Randy Walker's unexpected death. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
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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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