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Football Coach Kevin Wilson receiving his University of Tulsa football jersey. Photo provided.

Featured Article

Golden Hurricane May Just Be On The Offensive

University of Tulsa’s New Head Coach, Kevin Wilson, Has His Own Game Plan

Like most others in the country, Oklahomans love their football. And when it comes to college ball, it’s the season of stats, scores and “Shush - the game is on!” It’s a rush to see our favorite teams vying for - and maybe even winning - a championship. And every year, fans await the changes in new players and line-ups in hopes of getting a little direction as to how the season will play out. But behind all the teams moving the ball on the field, there is another team behind-the-scenes and on the sidelines moving the program up the field and through the season. And just like the teams on the field, there is a structure and a game plan as to how this team is gaining yardage in a very different way. Its quarterback, if you will, for this behind-the-scenes team is the head coach. And for the University of Tulsa’s Golden Hurricane, there is a new one with a playbook all his own. Welcome to Tulsa, Coach Kevin Wilson!

Many college sports fans may recognize his name. He has been coaching college football for 38 years and has made quite a name as an offensive coach. Originally from North Carolina, he grew up in a small town outside of Charlotte amid several small schools where local football had a huge community presence.

“I was impacted at an early age coming from a football town and being a football guy; I got sucked into the sport at an early age,” Wilson said. And though he played high school football, he knew as a teen that he wanted to be a coach. He attended the University of North Carolina from 1980-1983 as a walk-on and played all four years as a “solid backup guy, but nothing special,” by his own admission. His aspirations were to obtain his degree, coach high school athletics, and teach math.

But instead of gaining employment at a high school, he would take a job as a graduate assistant coach for the university just to see if he had what it took to be a college coach. After three years of being an assistant coach, he had been well received by the coaching staff, particularly Randy Walker who had recruited him for the assistant position. As such, he took a shot and accepted a position at Winston-Salem State in North Carolina. After one year, though, he followed their head coach to another college in North Carolina, moving up the field a bit.

During his second year at that college, opportunity knocked again. But this time it was one to pursue his original goal of coaching high school. Turned out, it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, and he didn’t do well at it, he stated. So, he left and began looking at getting back into the college game. His coaching mentor Randy Walker from his first assistant coaching job came through and offered him the chance to coach at Miami University in Ohio, where Walker was the head coach. Wilson felt at home in Miami and remained there for nine years. He then opted for another move and followed Walker to Northwestern University in Illinois to work with renowned coach Gary Barnett’s staff. While there, the team won a Big Ten Championship, bringing attention to Wilson’s coaching abilities.

This would put his skill set and experience on multiple radars - including legendary Oklahoma Sooners coach Bob Stoops, who offered him an opportunity with the Sooners. He would remain there for nine years as an offensive coach with the last five as offensive coordinator. Then he would be given a chance to be a head coach. He jumped at the offer and moved to Indiana to lead the Hoosiers. He coached that organization for six years before moving to Ohio State for another six years. Through the years he has been building his reputation as a solid offensive coach. And then another Oklahoma opportunity would present itself. And like a perfectly executed play, his next move would lead him back to Oklahoma to head up the University of Tulsa football program.

Unlike many coaches who seem to take the nomadic existence of eyeing the next position and always chasing up or making lateral moves, Wilson points out that he preferred to embrace every job with focus, and with an intent to stay and build the program. He admits he would most likely have advanced further and faster had he chosen to play that game. But instead, he opted not to look at it as the ‘grass is greener’ on the next field, but to make a difference where he was and wait for opportunities to present themselves. As such, he has had only four jobs in the last 33 years, which is quite remarkable in a profession where moving around is just part of the game.

“It's difficult to be the right guy for a coaching position because there’s a lot of talent out there,” Wilson said about getting the job as head coach. He is humbled that when the decision makers at TU “peeled back all the candidates,” he just happened to be who they were looking for as their next program leader. And he was certainly ready for another shot as a head coach.

Historically, TU has had some phenomenal teams over the decades, and ranks well in college football history in terms of wins and conference championships. Wilson is excited to be the next leader moving TU football into the future and continuing the tradition of creating great teams and exceptional men with skills to tackle anything on the field and in life.

“I’m excited to lead the program and having been a head coach in the past and to have had the opportunity to work with some great coaches and mentors; I feel I possess a good perspective for coaching Tulsa,” he said.   He explained that this perspective, in part, comes from the experience of learning what works, and more importantly, the wisdom to know that what works for one program may not work for every team dynamic. As for the new job and fitting in, he feels they are off to a good start and he and his staff are connecting positively with the team in building the infrastructure, culture, and vibe.

Wilson’s main priority is managing and developing the team, which is a colossal feat, especially in the beginning. It takes a lot of time and energy to develop the different facets of coaching and managing a team, while also providing positive influence both on and off the field, as well as being cognizant of the university’s reputation. The university’s programs are all part of that reputation, which Wilson considers to be one team all working together to win in every aspect of the college experience.

“We want to be successful, but we also want to represent the university both on and off the field with class, effort, passion, and enthusiasm while playing the game in the right way,” Wilson said. Part of creating that winning team is connecting with the city of Tulsa - the team’s fan base - and representing the city in a positive manner, which Wilson believes is also an integral part of any successful college program.

“We are positively impacting young men’s lives and hopefully we can do that and still win a boatload of football games,” he said. And to be able to do that is a successful game plan, no matter which side of the line of scrimmage a team finds itself on. He is excited to work with these young players as the season unfolds. He expressed that the players are buying into what he and his coaching staff are selling. But he is not naïve and knows there will be challenges and much team-building ahead. These players are receptive to what he hopes to achieve, and this gives him confidence that the victories will come to pass. The first four months have been very “pleasing” to him and he is proud and appreciative of the work the players and coaching staff are doing.

“Tulsa is a great city. I love the city and the vibe. I really like our institution, campus, and its academics. It’s a beautiful place,” Wilson said. He is a father of five, and he and his wife Angela are excited to be back in Oklahoma, having moved to Tulsa in December. Here’s to Coach Wilson and the next generation of the Hurricane bringing Tulsa the golden ticket.

“We are positively impacting young men’s lives and hopefully we can do that and still win a boatload of football games.”—Kevin Wilson

  • Coach Kevin Wilson and his family at the Introductory press conference held at the University of Tulsa. Photo provided.
  • Coach Kevin Wilson and his family at the Introductory press conference held at the University of Tulsa. Photo provided.
  • Coach Kevin Wilson signs his autograph for a young man at the Tulsa Football Springfest. Photo provided.
  • Coach Kevin Wilson signs a young mans shirt at the Tulsa Football Springfest. Photo provided.
  • Football Coach Kevin Wilson receiving his University of Tulsa football jersey. Photo provided.
  • Football Coach Kevin Wilson receiving his University of Tulsa football jersey. Photo provided.