LAKE CHARLES — You won’t hear Frank Wilson complain.
The former heralded assistant coach-recruiter from LSU would have every right to do just that when it comes to the circumstances he now faces as the head football coach at McNeese State. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everything involving Wilson’s job from spring football, recruiting and of course developing relationships with his players.
Yet, you won’t hear Wilson view the situation as a negative or use it as an excuse for the team not succeeding whenever the Cowboys do take the field this coming fall.
“You can only control what you can control,” Wilson said. “What we are not going to go is bitch and complain. No one is going to feel sorry for us. Every day we are going to start off and we are going to cover everything from A to Z. That is our mindset.”
The first big roadblock for Wilson and his staff was when spring football was canceled due the pandemic. Wilson had been hired in January and had yet to conduct any real practices with his team.
“We were starting that Monday when it was canceled,” remembered Wilson. “We simply adjusted. We don’t flinch. We spoke to our team about what was next and provided them with guidelines just like we would for our installation days. This is what we can control.”
Wilson and his staff have continued to utilize technology (in the case of McNeese football, Zoom videoconference calls) to not only to instruct players on pass rushing scheme or what audible to call at the line of scrimmage but also simply keeping a tab on the players and keeping that line of communication open during this time of social distancing.
“It has been no different than any other spring football has been for me with the exception of not seeing our young men in person,” Wilson said.
The other adjustment for college football coaches has been not having recruits come on official visits or even being able to visit them in person. Has that negatively impacted Wilson? No. It has actually been the exact opposite.
“We had guys that were committed already and we had a handful of guys for a week or two weeks that we pursued,” said Wilson, whose son Quad Wilson has committed to the Cowboys. “We decided as a staff to not rush it with recruiting. That early time was spent recruiting our own team. We needed to take care of home first. I spent most of my time here in Lake Charles with our team before we started to branch out to recruiting new players.”
Wilson, of course, has a wealth of coaching experience to lean on.
The New Orleans native worked for Ed Orgeron as the running backs coach at Ole Miss (2005-07), then as as the wide receivers coach for Lane Kiffin at Tennessee (2009). He then joined Les Miles as running backs coach-recruiting coordinator at LSU (2010-15).
“I was extremely blessed and fortunate in my tenure to be around some really good college coaches,” Wilson said. “I learned a lot from Coach Orgeron and Coach Miles. I owe them both a lot. I learned the do and don’ts, how to work with the support staff, the Title IX coordinator, and all of the things that aren’t part of preparing for a football game.”
With so much uncertainty surrounding the college football season (will it start on time, will it be a reduced schedule, will fans be allowed in stadiums) has that changed Wilson’s approach since taking the McNeese State job? Not at all.
“We are preparing for our season,” Wilson said.
“We are preparing to go to Lafayette and play the Ragin’ Cajuns. Everything we are doing is preparing for that.”