The new era for McNeese football was ushered in on Friday afternoon.
This time, Cowboy fans hope the new guy sticks around a little longer than last time.
In front of a crowded Endzone Room on the second floor of the Jack Doland Field House, McNeese State University and the McNeese athletic department officially introduced Frank Wilson as the Cowboys' newest head football coach.
There were quite a few McNeese players and coaches, both past and present, along with university employees from the athletic department and the academic side. McNeese State president Daryl Burckel spoke to the crowd first and a few other people, including Kedrick Nicholas (the Dean of Student Services for McNeese State) also got behind the mic to speak about Wilson. Nicholas' relationship with Wilson is particularly special because of how far it goes back; Wilson coached Nicholas when he played at Edna Karr High School in New Orleans.
After that, it was Wilson's turn to step and face the crowd which also included plenty of McNeese fans and boosters. And he did not disappoint.
Wilson played his last three years of college football at Nicholls, and he said that he'd watch McNeese from afar and believes that this is one of the premier jobs in the conference. He also said he spoke to LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, under whom Wilson coached at Ole Miss and LSU, and Orgeron had nice words for him.
"I had a chance to have a conversation with Coach Ed Orgeron as they were preparing to go into the White House," WIlson said. "And he said to me, ‘you know coach, my boy is there. We love McNeese. And we had options in this state and we chose to go to McNeese because we really believe that it is a premier school in this state. It's an honor for you to be the head coach of my son'. We go back a long way when he was an assistant at Nicholls when I was a player and then a student assistant. And it all culminates, it comes full circle. You just never know.
After Wilson got done speaking to the crowd, he met fans, employees, and players, briefly shaking hands with them. Then, he went across the street to the media room inside the H&HP Complex, where he took part in a press conference with the media, where he answered questions as he sat with his wife Tiffany to his right and McNeese athletic director Bruce Hemphill to his left.
During the press conference, Wilson answered a bunch of standard questions that new head coaches are asked. From a scheme standpoint, he said that he'd like to evaluate the roster before making any specific declarations. But at a very base level, Wilson said he plans on running a spread, up-tempo offense and an odd front defense (three defensive linemen). He also spoke about what attracted him to the position, with the tradition, fans, and facilities being just some of the factors that influenced Wilson.
From a recruiting standpoint, Wilson was very confident in his abilities and said that he will recruit locally as well as statewide, also going into Texas and southern Alabama, all along the I-10 corridor.
With the 2020 postseason ban because of low APR scores over a four-year period, Wilson also knows that, if he wants to win right away, some of his hardest recruiting will be within his own building to get players to stay that can leave and be eligible right away. When asked what his message to the players would be to try and convince them to stay, he was a bit coy before explaining a bit of what he would say.
"You don't have to go look for love in all those places," Wilson said. "You'll receive it here. It'll happen on the football field, it'll happen in the classroom, and it'll happen in your everyday walks of life. I think we'll do our due diligence in giving them great comfort in knowing they'll be nurtured here the right way."
A program with a storied tradition made a historic hire, as McNeese hired its first black head football coach in the program's history when they chose Wilson. For Wilson, who said he mulled over potential jobs that even extended into the NFL, being McNeese's first black head coach does mean something to him, but once he gets to work, he's a coach.
"It's really two-fold," Wilson said. "In one sense, it's extremely significant, and in today's time, whether you look at the National Football League or collegiate football and the minimal number of minority coaches that get an opportunity to lead a program, to be a head coach. I allow myself to be used to inspire the next generation, the next young coach who has those same hopes and dreams and desires of being a head coach, much like the Tony Dungys and Denny Greens of the world have done for me."
"And then once we're here," Wilson continued. "You're a football coach. None of that matters. And so we move forward and we do the things that we need to do from an organizational standpoint, from a leadership standpoint, from a team standpoint, to build our program appropriately."
From an on-field standpoint, Wilson said that he wants to win right away and will do all that he can to do so. But he doesn't think that he needs to prove anything after his four years at UTSA. Rather, he believes he's a better coach now because of it.
When asked about Wilson's fit with McNeese, Burckel did not hesitate to say just how much he likes it and how excited he is for the future with Wilson leading the Cowboys.
"He has the same vision, values of what we want in our program," Burckel said of Wilson. "The excellence that we want to achieve, how we want to get there. I think it's a great fit for us. I think he's going to fit in very well to the McNeese family."