Coverage of new UTSA Head Coach Frank Wilson’s Introductory Press Conference:
PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
LYNN HICKEY: This is a great turn out, so thank you for being here. My name is Lynn Hickey. I'm the Director of Athletics and just want to welcome everybody. This is a very exciting day for UTSA and the city of San Antonio. I think that it's just more -- it's more than just another historical moment in our short history of football.
There have been times the last ten days I actually called it a hysterical moment, everything has moved so fast. But this is actually -- I would deem this as a moment of impact, beginning this next phase of our program, so I would like to turn over the program to our President, who has been outstanding, who has had the courage to even let us start a program from the ground up and who has shown commitment to this program throughout the whole process. Dr. Romo.
DR. RICARDO ROMO: Thank you, Lynn. Thank you all for coming here. It is an exciting day at UTSA, as we are beginning a new chapter in our athletic program. UTSA is recognized for excellence in the classroom and in the playing fields. In the five seasons since we've seen football come to UTSA we've made many great gains because of the tremendous support from our community as well as the commitment of individuals like Lynn and her group. We are now taking a new step.
Earlier this month we engaged a search firm to help us conduct an extensive national search for a new head football coach. At this time some two weeks ago, I appointed a committee, a committee that would be the hiring committee and I asked Lynn to chair that committee and make recommendations to me and recommended finalists for the position. I got to interview these candidates and I worked closely with the committee and with the UT chancellor. These appointments are approved by the chancellor and approved by the Board of Regents, and I can tell you with confidence that we have made an excellence choice in coach Frank Wilson as our new head coach.
As some of you have already read, Frank has an outstanding 20-year coaching career including an exceptional performance at LSU as the running back coach and recruiting coordinator and when I say recruiting, he is truly one of the best recruiters in the entire country.
What I was struck by was his commitment to his players, his commitment to academics, his desire to play at a very high level all the time. He's an impressive individual and I can see why he is a great recruiter. He is engaging, as you know, and he has that passion and knows how to channel the energy and the passion. Therefore, he is an ideal person to harness this momentum to take us to new levels in football.
I'm excited about him being here. We have an opportunity to hear from him and also have some questions. So let me introduce to you the new UTSA head coach, Frank Wilson.
COACH FRANK WILSON: Thank you, thank you so much. I would like to start off by first of all acknowledging the people that allowed this process to happen, to my right, Dr. Romo who has the vision to take this university to a University of excellence, a top-tier university, that allowed this university five years ago to have the vision of starting a football program. It's an honor, it's a pleasure to be here today.
I thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of the UTSA family. My family is eager and excited to be here, to call San Antonio our home and today is just the beginning of that time.
Second of all, I would like to thank Lynn Hickey for the vision, the foresight to work with Dr. Romo and seeing this five years ago, but probably more so the courage to step outside and start a program when people thought it couldn't be done, to do it anyway, to elevate it year after year to the status that it is now. I thank you.
To the UTSA family, and all of the faculty and staff, support staff that was involved in the selection committee, and I see a lot of your faces out here today, I enjoyed every moment of it. I say this to you: The warmth, the empathy, the opportunity for you guys to share with me, with this university, with this state, behold, made me want to be a part of it. I couldn't wait to get home to tell my wife and my kids about the interview process. It was truly the best.
To my agent, Pete Rucell in the back of the room who got this thing to the finish line, I thank you for allowing this to happen. Last but not least to the right, my family, my beautiful wife Tiffany, my son Frank, my daughter Sabrina, my daughter Alana, could not have done it without you. It's been a long, long time since we started this from when I was a high school football coach to the moment that we are here now.
My family and I prayed, we cried, we enjoyed every moment of it before we got on the plane today to head this way to accept this position. It is the biggest moment of our life. We don't take it for granted, and we're looking forward to it. Birds up!
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q. Coach, welcome to San Antonio. Why UTSA? You've been in the mix for other coaching jobs. What set UTSA apart?
COACH WILSON: All of the things we talked about. When you talk about a school that's a top-tier university, a school that identifies itself as a school of excellence, the opportunity to be a part of the first, a program that is still new in a sense that was given birth or life was breathed into it five years ago. To have an opportunity to be the first to win a conference championship at this university in football, to have an opportunity to be the first to win a bowl game, all of those things appeal to this university, so when the opportunity presented itself, I could not be more excited about it. So really, really thrilled about UTSA and the future and the what we can do here.
Q. Coach, welcome to San Antonio. Ever since your name came up, looking at you and everything I see is you are a recruiting wizard. Can you give us any insight into why that is so?
COACH WILSON: People, being a good listener. So many times people think the recruiting process is about the words that you speak to a young man, to a committee, to a group of people but the reality is being a very good listener. For the first 60 days here at UTSA I'm going to listen, listen, understanding the culture, understand the history that allows me to first of all recruit the players on this campus and I will start that tomorrow with our team meeting.
I think from a recruiting standpoint, we've got to recruit the players that are here first. We're 20 days away from National Signing Day, which is the first day but not the last day -- excuse me, the first but not the last, and we have a plan, and we will be prepared to give us the best opportunity to get the kids here on campus.
Q. Coach, what do you see here at UTSA? What kind of -- what's the upside here? They were real good in '13, 7-5 and they are 7-17 as you very well know over the last couple of seasons. What do you see?
COACH WILSON: Opportunity. I see potential, I see a school that's nestled in the state of Texas that's fertile recruiting grounds that all around you, whether it's in San Antonio, whether it's in Houston, whether it's in Dallas, the state of Texas and its neighboring states that allow this sleeping guy ant to be awakened. It's flashed at times, it's shown it at times, whether it was the inaugural win or the seven-win season, it's shown flashes at times of the possibility of the things that could be done here. Just so excited about being in Conference USA and the potential to compete for a conference championship and go on to a bowl game.
Q. What is the process of filling out your staff going to look like? What positions are of the highest priority?
COACH WILSON: Well, first of all, we're going to take it step by step. Right now I'm soaking it in, embracing the moment. I will have the opportunity to meet with some of the guys that are currently on the staff. We will take it step by step and do it right not fast. Before Signing Day we may have some guys on the staff but not necessarily all of them, so we're going to take our time, identify, assess where we are right now and put ours in position to get the best fit for what we need to have success.
Q. Coach, you've worked with some pretty good running backs at LSU, you've got a pretty good one over there you can work with as well. If you had to tell us a little bit about your style and what kind of a offense you would like to put together here at UTSA, can you give us a glimpse of what you would like to do?
COACH WILSON: Yeah, still in the premature stages of it. Have had the opportunity to watch us on tape thus far and see our personnel and the things that we have. I like the style of spread not necessarily a dink and dunk team. We will take our shots down the field, we will throw the ball vertical, we will create run lanes within the run game, with an ability to be physical and assaulting, because that's our identity, it's what we have always done, the ability to run the ball but yet the ability to get vertical to make big plays. So we will start there and we will see how our personnel evolves with our team and adjust accordingly.
Q. Welcome Coach. I wanted to ask you about your experiences at St. Augustine High School, pretty famous St. Aug grad has his jersey hanging over the AT&T center, Avery Johnson, No. 6 for the Spurs, won a title here in '99. He was a proud St. Aug grad. How did going to school there shape who you are?
COACH WILSON: It was very instrumental from a structure stand point, from an organizational stand point, from a discipline stand point, so much so that my son actually commutes an hour away from Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and he goes to St. Aug. So I believe in the school It was good for me it was good for Avery and the rich history that's been there, but it's helped shape me in ways just from an accountability discipline standpoint and taking care of business at hand.
Q. Do you know Avery?
COACH WILSON: I do. Yes, sir.
Q. Coach you talk about your time in Baton Rouge, obviously being part of one of the best teams in the nation. Talk about what you are going to take away from your time there and bring here to San Antonio.
COACH WILSON: Yeah, I tell you, the year I got there, they had not come off a great season, and I learned a lot of things. I learned a lot of things from Les Miles and that program, that organization of how to do things the right way, how to take your time and to assess things and to really look at the long-term view, a holistic view of where you want your program to be and to rebuild it yet again from the bottom up. So what I got from my experience there is an ability to identify perspective student-athletes that fit what we were trying to do at that university and then allow it to come to fruition. As I take on this task here, it's the same thing, to identify the personnel or the players or the people and coaches that fit what we're trying to do and allow it to come to fruition.
Q. Coach, I wanted to ask about your philosophy on recruiting. There were some guys on a pod cast this morning talking about how you sometimes slept in your office in the days leading up to Signing Day. They said you got (away from mic.) I wanted to ask you, is recruiting more about effort, is it more about evaluation, or is it more about relationships, or maybe all the above?
COACH WILSON: All of the above. The first piece that sometimes gets overlooked is the evaluation part, the ability to evaluate a student-athlete and recognize and be able to project his ability that he has or potentially can have and that's a unique trait. A lot of times people wait until their senior year and then want to make the offer. We try to identify them early enough and project what they could be as a junior, as a senior in high school and begin to form that relationship.
When we do that early enough, the relationships allow you to withstand the test of time, and so when the other schools come, it's so genuine, it's so sincere, that it outweighs all the other "stuff" that may lure a kid to another school.
When we identify the best players in the state of Texas, the best players in San Antonio, the relationship will be so genuine that when other schools come knocking, it will be hard for them to say no because there is a relationship there that has developed over the years that allows you to have success. Of course it's hard work. There is no magical wand, I don't have a secret recipe --
LYNN HICKEY: You don't?
COACH WILSON: -- I have a process that works (Laughter.) On a calendar year that allows those student-athletes to be on this campus probably more than they will be anywhere else to show all that we have to offer as a university. So it's so much bigger than football. It's a custodian, a cafeteria worker, the athletic director, the track coach, all hands on deck ask we all recruit. When someone walks through that door or walks on this campus we're recruiting and it's not just the football too many so UTSA recruits, not just Coach Frank and the football staff.
Q. Coach, Larry Cocker always said that he felt that San Antonio, he said that from the get-go was under-recruited, he said there is a lot of talent around here, and I think Oklahoma State had four starters on the starting defensive unit. What do you know -- you're a recruiting whiz, you know about this region and stuff. What do you know about San Antonio, the talent here, and I'm going to cheat a little bit and I did a lot of reading today, and I know that a lot of players got emotional. How tough was it for you to leave LSU? I know you were close to your players, a father figure to those guys, how tough was it?
COACH WILSON: Two pieces, the first part. The kids in San Antonio like a lot of other cities have to be developed. Once you identify them, then you recruit them and you get them on your campus, now you have to develop them. If they're not all the way developed in high school, sometimes a staff, a coach will look beyond them and they end up at another university and then you're sitting there saying, whatever happened to that -- wow, look at him? Because the assessment piece wasn't there. You missed it. Right? So the evaluation piece that we initially talked about is a critical one, probably more so than the recruiting, to identify, to assess the right one so you're recruiting the right type of player.
As for the players that I've recruited over the years and most recently in Baton Rouge, yeah, they're near and dear to me, because it's that kinship piece we talked about, that it's bigger than football, the sport, that we sincerely nurture them to be better men. We model for them what it is to be a good husband, what it is to be a good father and when you have that type of impact in a young man's life, they cling to you, and it becomes more than just football. It's a tangible that they can't just let loose easily. They were super excited for me. You know, it was an emotional time but yet tears of joy because they all supported me coming here.
Q. Coach, obviously this was a quick process, a quick hiring process. When will you move to San Antonio, when do you hope to get settled in and will you start immediately here?
COACH WILSON: I'm here. (Laughter.) It's interesting because my family came down for this occasion and so the next question was, well, when are you guys headed back Saturday, no Sunday, no Monday, well, I can't leave then because we've got to recruit so I have about four luggage bags packed and I'll be here, the family will go back tomorrow, I will be here prepared to start working to meet with the team as early as tomorrow and visit with some of our current guys and try to better understand the landscape of our university.
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