Kevin Wilson wants to set the record straight. His home address wouldn't be located in Columbus if the rumors and allegations that he mistreated players as the head football coach at Indiana had any sort of validity.
“We wouldn't be here, doing this job, if those things are true,” Ohio State's new offensive coordinator and tight ends coach said on Thursday, the first time he spoke to reporters since the Buckeyes hired him in January. “Anyone can have an opinion, I know the department went over there and looked at everything, I know this school has looked at everything, I know we're very, very comfortable with what we're doing and where we're at. And we're excited about it to move forward.”
Wilson reiterated his level of excitement to work for Urban Meyer at Ohio State numerous times in a roughly 12-minute interview session on the indoor practice field at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Pressed about the claims that he forced injured players to go back out on the field before they were healthy enough that led to his abrupt resignation from Indiana on Dec. 1, Wilson went on the offensive.
“I know this school has looked at everything, I know we're very, very comfortable with what we're doing and where we're at. And we're excited about it to move forward.”– Kevin Wilson
“The athletic director had outside counsel, found no evidence and that's why we're here,” he said. “That program was built with love and respect and playing hard. That's why the talent that wasn't there, that most people consider the worst program in the Big Ten, right now I saw today was considered one of the best programs in the Big Ten East.
“That's a credit to those kids. I appreciate and love them and I wish them nothing but the best.”
Meyer said on Feb. 1 that he and athletic director Gene Smith fully vetted Wilson's situation before pulling the trigger and hiring him as Ed Warinner's replacement. That process was "immediate."
“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,” Meyer said then. “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.”
Indiana athletic director Fred Glass cited "philosophical differences" as the reason Wilson parted ways with the university more than three months ago. Smith told The Lantern he had a "good, candid conversation" with the man Meyer tabbed to fix Ohio State's downfield passing attack.
“Urban and I came together and we talked about what we found out and we felt comfortable,” Smith said.
Reporters pushed Wilson about the issues that led to his exit from Bloomington on Thursday, which prompted a team spokesman to say, "Kevin's a Buckeye, folks. Kevin's a Buckeye." Wilson said he heard from one of his former players earlier this week, who thanked him for helping him reach his limits.
“Just saying, 'Hey man, I appreciate everything you did. You're tough as nails. I love you,'" Wilson said.
He went on to say Indiana's athletic trainers were "some of the best I've ever been around," before bringing up two NFL-caliber players he coached in Bloomington.
“Those [trainers] handled all the decisions. You just get ridiculed when Tevin Coleman would come out of a game or Dan Feeney missed a bunch last year,” he said. “Again, you take a losing program and have that kind of success, that is a commitment from a lot of people. And those guys are awesome.”
Wilson also reiterated he enjoyed his time in Bloomington, raised his children there and that they are attending Indiana. He and his wife are onto the next challenge. For the coach, it's working with J.T. Barrett and the Ohio State offense in spring practice.
“We appreciate the opportunity to coach those kids. I'm very grateful for those kids and what they gave our family,” Wilson said. “I'm appreciative of all their comments moving forward and at the same time, we're excited to be here and coaching these cats.”