Kevin Wilson Leaving Ohio State for “Chance to Lead a Program” at Tulsa, But Will Remain with Buckeyes for College Football Playoff | Eleven Warriors
“Those are my guys,” Wilson said, his voice cracking slightly as he looked down at the lectern and took a moment to compose himself before continuing with his opening statement. “I know the sacrifices that have been made. I know the commitment that so many family members and coaches and players have done for me to be standing here.”
That moment illustrated that it wasn’t easy for Wilson to leave Ohio State, where he has worked for the last six years as the Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator and tight ends coach. But having previously been the head coach at Indiana from 2011-16, Wilson wanted a second opportunity to lead a program himself, and he felt Tulsa was the right fit.
“I wasn’t necessarily chasing jobs,” Wilson said during his introductory press conference at Tulsa on Tuesday afternoon. “I thought I had a chance to lead a program and to build a foundation of a program that can stand and one good shot to swing as hard as you can and get a group of people to work together and build something that a university and a community and an alumni base and most importantly the players can take a lot of pride in.
“If this wasn’t meant to be, I think I’d have fumbled around in the interview process, (Tulsa athletic director Rick Dickson) would have found someone else more attractive. I think we’re here for a purpose, we’re here for a reason. We’re excited about that.”
While Wilson said he was still recruiting for Ohio State as recently as Monday, Wilson’s focus in that area will now shift toward recruiting players for Tulsa. As a coach, however, Wilson will remain with the Buckeyes through their College Football Playoff run.
He’ll be going back and forth between Columbus and Tulsa over the next couple of weeks as he juggles both jobs simultaneously, but plans to be fully focused on helping the Buckeyes try to win a national championship after the early signing period concludes.
“My plan in talking with Rick and what Coach Day wanted, what Gene Smith the athletic director at Ohio State wanted, is to be a part of all the bowl preparations I can up there (at Ohio State), be here (at Tulsa) when we’re recruiting,” Wilson said. “Then it gets into that dead period, so I’ll be working through hopefully an opportunity to play two (playoff) games and two great opportunities. I’m standing here because of the success of our team (at Ohio State), and I think it’s my obligation to finish up with that team and give that team a chance to chase the national championship.”
When Wilson was asked if he thought winning a national championship at Ohio State could help him recruit players to Tulsa, Wilson said that’s not the way he’s looking at it, as he just wants to help the Buckeyes finish the season strong – though he acknowledged there is also personal motivation to win a national championship as he’s never won one despite coming close several times.
“You want to teach your children, you want to teach your players how to finish and I appreciate the administration at both places giving me a chance to finish and try to do my darndest to be a part of it,” Wilson said. “I’ve had a chance to be a part of the BCS (national championship game), the semifinal of the playoffs five times; I’m still looking for that one game. So selfishly, I’d like that one game. Of course, we’ve got to get through the (semifinal game against Georgia on the) 31st, and that’s gonna be a tough challenge.”
Wilson, who was Ohio State’s primary offensive play caller for only one season in 2017 before Ryan Day took over those duties in 2018, says he plans to hire an offensive coordinator to call plays at Tulsa, allowing him to focus on overseeing the entire team, though he has not yet made any hires for his coaching staff at Tulsa.
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