Urban Meyer Explains Why He Was Comfortable Hiring Kevin Wilson as Ohio State's Offensive Coordinator

By Tim Shoemaker on February 1, 2017 at 5:15 pm
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer addresses the media earlier this year.

When Ohio State officially announced the hiring of Kevin Wilson as its offensive coordinator, Urban Meyer knew the questions would come.

These wouldn’t be about Wilson’s ability as a football coach — he’s widely regarded as one of the most brilliant offensive minds in the college game — but with the way he left his previous job, Meyer would have to answer why he felt comfortable bringing Wilson on board to his program.

On Dec. 1, 2016, Wilson resigned after six seasons as Indiana’s head coach amid “philosophical differences” between him and athletic director Fred Glass. Glass never did elaborate on what exactly those differences were, but the Indianapolis Star later reported an investigation into player treatment under Wilson contributed to the resignation.

Before Meyer could bring Wilson to Ohio State in an attempt to fix an offense that was shut out in the College Football Playoff, the Buckeyes' head coach — and his bosses — had some vetting to do to ensure it was the right fight.

“That was immediate,” Meyer said Wednesday in his first press conference since Ohio State’s 31-0 loss to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl. “I went to [athletic director] Gene Smith and Gene Smith talked to [school president Dr. Michael] Drake because, like anything, there’s stories that get thrown out there. I talked to Kevin myself at great length. I talked to others that knew him that were there. Gene Smith did, as well.”

“I already knew just because I knew the guy, but I wanted to hear what goes on and whether it’s a disgruntled player, whether it’s an issue with the trainer, whether it’s an issue with some — I just needed to find out and so did my bosses. It was rather quick and everything came back good. There was some misunderstandings, philosophical differences, which I understand. I wanted to know what they were and we proceeded.”

In a recent interview with The Lantern, Ohio State’s student newspaper, Smith described his meeting with Wilson as “good, candid conversation.”

“Urban and I came together and we talked about what we found out and we felt comfortable,” Smith told The Lantern. “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. He’ll fit our culture fine.”

Smith also told The Lantern he called Glass to discuss Wilson’s resignation.

After the vetting process was complete, Ohio State felt comfortable giving Meyer the go-ahead to bring Wilson on board. Now, he’s tasked with rebuilding an offense that sputtered a bit against top competition over the last couple of seasons.

“I thought they’d done a phenomenal job [at Indiana],” Meyer said. “We didn’t want to play them every year, I know that. I’ve known coach Wilson since his Northwestern days and just have great respect for him.”

“I’m going to be perfectly clear, though, this is the Ohio State offense and we’re going to enhance it and make it better.”

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