The rest of the men’s water polo teams in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation might be feeling like Little Red Riding Hood because the Big Bad Wolf is coming to Santa Barbara.

Former Olympian Wolf Wigo was hired as UCSB’s new men’s water polo head coach Friday, taking over the position Joe O’Brien left in February.

Wigo is a three-time recipient of the USA Water Polo Male Athlete of the Year award, played 12 years on the National Team and made four Olympic appearances. At Sydney in 2000, Wigo led the team in scoring with 16 goals and has been the captain since 2001.

“He played for arguably the best coaches in the world at such a high level and he’ll benefit from that,” sophomore driver Ross Sinclair said. “It will carry over and he’ll be real successful coach.”

Outside of the pool, Wigo has been the primary administrator and head coach for the Saddleback El Toro Water Polo Club for the past two years. Wigo, a Stanford grad, is no stranger to the MPSF. He was named NCAA Player of the Year after helping the Cardinal to their second consecutive NCAA Championship in 1994 and spent time as an assistant coach at Stanford in 1996 and 2001 when the Cardinal won the NCAA Championship, something he hopes to bring to UCSB.

“We want to win NCAA as soon as possible and [water] polo’s the only sport in UCSB history that has a tournament title. I think that history can repeat itself,” Wigo said. “I’ve played for a lot of the best coaches in the world, and I’ve been able to see what works and what doesn’t – what techniques have a winning edge and attitude. I think I’ll bring a lot of those experiences with me.

Wigo is the ninth coach in Santa Barbara men’s water polo history and assumes a team who finished eighth in the MPSF last season with an 18-14 record. Santa Barbara will lose leading scorers Brian Alexander and Andrew Schoneberger to graduation. Although UCSB has been without a head coach since February, the team has been under the supervision of newly appointed Assistant Coach Kevin Witt and will start training with Wigo as soon as he moves to Santa Barbara.

“Witt’s been doing a great job getting us into really good shape and having [Wigo] coming down and with Kevin assisting, everyone’s really stoked,” junior goalie Jon Bonafede said. “I think he’s going to have a lot to teach us; playing at a top level and being so successful, I think he’s going to transition easily.”