COLUMBUS — Kevin Wilson doesn’t even pretend to ignore statistics, and the Ohio State co-offensive coordinator loves breaking records.
Eye-popping touchdown totals from quarterbacks or ridiculous piles of yardage from running backs, Wilson has worked with both and has no preference either way.
As long as his teams are putting up more points than anybody else in the Big Ten, that’s all that matters. And he has no problem using that as the measuring stick, either privately in front of the team in a meeting on the Friday before a game or publicly as he walks up the tunnel after a Rose Bowl win to cap another prolific season.
“Been over here for two years with two great teams, scored more points than anybody in the Big Ten,” Wilson said after the win over Washington on New Year’s Day. “We did that at Indiana, too, and I really thought we were doing a solid job of building the program there before we lost that opportunity. But the sanctuary for me is those couple hours on the field, practices, meeting, the environment of working with our players.Â I donâ€™t want to leave these players.
“Iâ€™d like to have the opportunity to go be a head coach again. I donâ€™t know if that opportunity will present itself, and Iâ€™m not chasing it. Iâ€™ve got a sophomore in high school and Iâ€™d like to get him through high school, and we like where weâ€™re at. But I think Iâ€™ve got a few really strong years left, and I just want to keep coaching ball.”
As long as the Buckeyes can keep Wilson around, the better off they’re likely to be given his continued success helping produce high-scoring attacks capable of evolving based on the personnel on hand. And after two seasons working together to guide the best offenses in the Big Ten, Wilson received an assurance early on in the process from new coach Ryan Day that he was more than welcome to stay and continue in a role that primarily focuses on being a run-game coordinator and coaching the tight ends.
Like the offenses he’s worked with, Wilson has proven flexible himself with his role on the staff. And that only enhances his value to Day and Ohio State given his background and track record leading his own program, which came to an end at Indiana amid allegations of player mistreatment that ultimately never produced any compliance issues or liability on Wilson’s part. Whether that continues to hamper Wilson on the job market or he’s simply content in Columbus while trying to let his son finish up high school, either way it’s worked out better than the Buckeyes could have imagined.
“I think some things happened that kind of scarred the recognition and credit a little bit,” Wilson said. “Some of it wasnâ€™t really accurate, and thatâ€™s unfortunate. Iâ€™ve kind of taken the road of being very, very respectful of what you have, donâ€™t throw stones when there are glass houses.Â Iâ€™m confident if we do well, hopefully weâ€™ll have an opportunity.
“Just coming in here, there are a lot of things that weâ€™ve done to try to evolve, but also we didnâ€™t get far away from what Coach [Urban] Meyer has done. Coach Day will have his imprint on things, but there are still so many things in place, I donâ€™t know how far we travel off of what we do. You area always going to play to the strength of your players. I think we played to the strength of J.T. [Barrett], and he was very, very successful â€” one of the most successful in Big Ten football ever. Had a tremendous year with Dwayne [Haskins] and a different skill set, and I think thatâ€™s the job of an offensive coach to play to the strengths and weaknesses when you have good players.”
Wilson can rattle off the numbers for both of those quarterbacks, and his social-media feed has become a one-stop shop to find all the record-breakers and NFL stars he’s worked with throughout his career. He also remains quick to joke that the only thing that matters to an offensive coordinator is scoring points, which the Buckeyes are doing better than anybody in the Big Ten.
Day has earned most of the recognition for that over the last couple years, and his work with the passing attack absolutely merits the acclaim. But he also wasn’t working alone, which is why retaining Wilson might go down as one of the best moves for Ohio State this offseason.
“Itâ€™ll be interesting moving forward because it always starts with what that quarterback can and canâ€™t do,” Wilson said. “As far as where the offense is going, I donâ€™t know.Â The game is a little bit wide open now. Weâ€™re pretty good at it. So, take care of the quarterback, take care of the ball and score points.
“You still have to be physical and run the ball. Thereâ€™s got to be balance. I believe that wins in the Big Ten. I believe that wins championships. I believe that is what Coach Day wants.”
For at least one more year, that puts him on the same page with Kevin Wilson moving forward together with the Buckeyes.