The Ohio State football team’s hiring of Kevin Wilson as co-offensive coordinator might have been the greatest offseason assistant coach hire in all of college football in the 2017 offseason. However, Wilson came with a background that had some hesitant on the hire.
Wilson resigned from his head coaching position at Indiana before the end of the 2016 season, amid rumors of mistreatment of players and intimidation of the training staff at Indiana. Indiana athletic director Fred Glass said there needed to be a culture change and there were “philosophical differences.”
At Indiana, Wilson revolutionized the Hoosier offense. He sent more players to the NFL than any other coach had in the team’s history. His track record at Northwestern and Oklahoma prior to Indiana supports his ability to develop players, so a fit to OSU made sense from the stance that the Buckeye offense had to improve from last season.
But before Wilson could go to work on that, he had to address the circumstances under which he left Indiana. On Thursday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Wilson spoke to the media for the first time since his hiring two months ago.
“We wouldn’t be here doing this job if those things were true,” Wilson said. “Anyone can have an opinion. I know (Indiana’s) department over there looked at everything. I know this school has looked into everything. I know we’re very comfortable with what we’re doing, where we’re at and excited to move forward.”
OSU coach Urban Meyer said in February, and Senior Vice President and Director of Athletics Gene Smith told The Lantern that the two went through a vetting process for Wilson, which involved contacting several people who knew of the events that transpired in Bloomington, Indiana. By the end of the process, both Smith and Meyer said they found the information they were looking for.
“Urban and I came together and we talked about what we found out and we felt comfortable,” Smith said. “Kevin sat at this table and we had a good conversation on what happened there, and how it’s going to work here. He was thoroughly vetted and we had a good, candid conversation.”
For the athletic training staff, Wilson commended the efforts of Indiana’s trainers. He said that without the complete commitment from lower-level staff, such as athletic trainers, Indiana would not have been able to compete at the level that it did.
“Those guys handled all the decisions,” Wilson said. “You’d just get ridiculed when Tevin Coleman would come out of the game. Dan Feeney missed a bunch last year. Those guys ran the ship. They did a great job, they did a great job with our players.”
Wilson recalled a text message he received from a former player the other day that read ‘Hey man, I appreciate everything you did. You made me tough as nails. I love you.’
“We appreciate the opportunity to coach those kids,” Wilson said. “I’m very grateful for those kids and what they gave our family. I’m appreciative of all their comments moving forward, and at the same time, we’re excited about coaching these cats and do what we can.”