[Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect Willis' 2011 guilty plea on a domestic violence charge.]

The news first hit the Internet on coachingsearch.com, naming former NFL player James Willis as the leading candidate in UL’s search for a new defensive coordinator.

james_willisCommenting on the news, ESPN1420.com reports:

The 41-year-old Willis played his college football at Auburn and was a 5th round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in the 1993 NFL draft.  Willis played for three different NFL teams plus a team in the now-defunct XFL. After his playing career, he returned to Auburn to finish his degree requirements.

Willis has coached at Rhode Island, Temple and Auburn before spending one year as Associate Head Coach for Nick Saban at Alabama and was on the staff when ‘Bama beat Texas for the National Championship.  He then spent time on Tommy Tuberville’s staff as the defensive coordinator at Texas Tech, but resigned before the 2011 Ticket City Bowl following an alleged domestic disturbance. He has been coaching in the United Football League.

Fox 34 News in Lubbock, Texas, reported in June 2011 that Willis pleaded guilty to a charge of assault, domestic violence and was sentenced to six months deferred probation. The station reported that Willis had to attend anger management classes and serve 30 hours of community service. Citing a Wolfforth Police Report, the station said that an officer responded to the Willis home on the morning of Dec. 22, 2010, in reference to a report of domestic violence:

Shalane Willis claimed her husband slapped her, hit her in the nose and threw her on the bed during an argument. Mrs. Willis says she ran out the front door to the neighbors' house to call 911.
After the domestic abuse allegations surfaced Tech head football coach Tommy Tuberville said the reported abuse was not a factor in Willis leaving the program.
"That was never even discussed when we sat down and talked about his future," Tuberville said in Dallas, during the week of practice ahead of the team's bowl game. "He will work through those and everybody has some kind of problems. They seem to be when you read stuff, more serious than what they are, but he is a good guy and has a good family."

 

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