Rob Wilson is entering his 16th year on the FSU athletics staff and his eighth in charge of all publicity and public relations matters concerning intercollegiate athletics at FSU. A 1983 graduate of FSU, Wilson returned to his alma mater in 1986 as an assistant sports information director after serving in the same role at East Carolina for three years. Wilson, 41, and his wife Sherrill have two sons, Preston and Parker.
Talk about the special ESPN is currently filming at FSU.
"We are calling it The Season. It doesn't have a name yet, but it's sort of what they did with Texas A&M only the reason we like it is going to be a postseason production. In other words, it won't be until the end of the season when they put it together. They want to basically represent what it entailed for FSU to get through its season. The other reason we like it, is they are not going to go on every road trip, they are only going to go on two road trips. They are just going to go to one coaches meeting. They are just going to go into the locker room a couple of times. They really won't be everywhere we go but they will be at a bunch of occasions that we have. They wanted to do it last year, but we declined. We thought it was A, not fair to Jeff Bowden being in his first year as offensive coordinator and B, we knew we had a new quarterback. We thought throwing that pressure on them would be ridiculous. We postponed it for a year. The team went to church (last Sunday) and they went with them there. Coach Bowden is speaking at a church this Sunday, and they want to film that. They want to go to a postgame party with one of the players. They want to follow a player's mother when she comes to visit one weekend. Stuff like that."
Obviously, this is a busy time for you. What has been on your plate recently?
"Well, thanks to the aggressive media, the all of a sudden out of nowhere crisis of "Let's Roll" has taken up most of the time, which was real unfortunate that blew up. But it's a classic case of...just like somebody told me, you ought to keep every video clip and every newspaper clip and go around the country and talk to every journalism class about this one. Because it was truly a media driven crisis that became a crisis and it was only the media that kept feeding off itself. But that has taken up a lot of time and, of course, the day-to-day stuff in getting the season ready. Have to make sure we get a game program out and media guides distributed and all that good stuff."
When you speak at functions and are asked about coach Bowden, how do you describe him?
"I have an easy answer that one. He is the best person I know. That's being honest, particularly if you know my mom and dad. I would stick him behind my mom and dad (laughing), but he's honest, forthright ... he's truly the ol' stereotype of you are what you see. He's is what you see. He's truly a good person. He's always looks for the good first, the bad second. He comes at you straight. I know the players appreciate the fact that he shoots straight with them in terms of who's starting, who's not and how you get there. But he's that way right across the board. I talk to my colleagues around the country and I hear some of the things they go through, and I just shake my head and want to go in and kiss coach every other week. It's unbelievable. He's extremely media savvy. By that I mean he understands what the media has to do and doesn't have to do. He doesn't always agree with what they do, he knows. ...that makes my job, from my end, really, really good. I've walked up the tunnel with him after the Wide Rights and everything else. I handed him the phone with President Clinton on one end of the phone, and I have handed him the microphone after we lost the national championship against Oklahoma. And he was the same guy both times."
What's your favorite coach Bowden story?
"One of my favorite stories has to do with a sports writer. That's when we played up in Michigan. One of my favorite games, certainly my favorite road game. A beautiful day. Pristine day. Huge media throng. Big play after big play. Terrell Buckley just makes every All-American team in one game. Desmond Howard comes back and does great. Even Todd McIntosh returns a fumble for a touchdown and Amp Lee goes crazy. It was just a perfect day. Our helmets were kicking gold off, Michigan's blue was deep blue. It was tremendous. We get done with the game and everyone is hyped. It was a great win. So, all the buses are there waiting and I am usually the last guy -- I have to make sure I have my people and the radio guys are usually last, along with coach. So, we are kind of sitting around twiddling our thumbs and somebody asks where's coach. I go into the locker room, and coach is in the shower -- as anybody would be in the shower, naked as he can be. Standing in the shower with water splashing on him is a sports writer taking notes (laughing). I couldn't believe it. And only coach could still be talking soaping up his hair, giving the guy quotes. So, we got him out of there."
Down through the years, who are some of your favorite players in terms of their ability to handle the media?
"There's a load of ex-players. Charlie Ward, if you were the sports information director, was not the easiest guy because he didn't want to talk. But that part of his deal. He would be sitting in my room on a basketball road trip and he didn't like to talk then. There are guys. ... Casey Weldon, not only was he easy to deal with in terms of the media but he also was very honest with the media. He didn't try to hide his emotions. Very frank with the media. But he also had a good appreciation for the media. There's a lot longer list of guys who were great with the media than guys that weren't great with the media. One guy who ended up playing seven or eight years in the NFL comes up to us probably three-fourths into his senior year and tells us he's not doing any interviews this season. We all kind of laughed because nobody had asked for an interview with him that season. You run into that sometimes. Most of the guys who aren't too good with the media kind of edit themselves out of it. But I am proud of all of our guys. Deion was unbelievable with the media. Jamie Dukes and Corey Simon stand out to me, they are the two guys I still pull on ESPN's coat tails and ABC and say, these guys are broadcasters. You need to get them. They have the face, they have the experience, they are articulate, they are interesting. Casey (Weldon) is the same way. There have been a bunch of them."