COLUMBUS, Ohio — At one point during Kevin Wilson’s Thursday meeting with the media, an Ohio State spokesperson insisted to reporters that “Kevin’s a Buckeye now.”
Not that they didn’t already know. It was how he became one, however, that served as the primary topic of conversation.
It’s now been more than three months since Wilson resigned as Indiana’s head coach, following an investigation into Wilson’s alleged mistreatment of players. Among the accusations levied against Wilson were that the now-former Hoosiers head coach rushed players back from injuries and intimidated trainers to do the same.
Officially, Indiana athletic director Fred Glass cited “philosophical differences” when announcing Wilson’s departure — a line Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer repeated when explaining why he was comfortable hiring him as the Buckeyes new offensive coordinator.
On Thursday, Wilson made his first public comments regarding the matter.
“The athletic department, the athletic director and those guys made their decision,” Wilson said. “From there, the comments that were made, we just go back to how much we loved being there, how much we loved our players. We didn’t have a chance to see those guys off. We did a great job, I think, recruiting and developing those guys.
“We’re a team that battled and played and had a lot of success. We had a great deal of academic success, a great deal of off-the-field success. I got a message from a kid the other night who was going through a situation. He just said, ‘Hey man, I appreciate everything you did. You made me tough as nails and I love you.’ And at the same time, you move on and you wish those guys well ’cause they’re your guys. It was a great time and it was great for our family. But now we’re here.”
Asked specifically about allegations he intimidated athletic trainers during his time in Bloomington, Wilson pointed to the improvement the Hoosiers made under his watch, which included a combined 12-13 record and two bowl appearances in the past two seasons.
“I don’t think we would have had the kind of success we had if it wasn’t for the love, energy, commitment and unity. And that’s why our team competed so well,” Wilson said. “You kind of see the way our team played, you see the way our players have moved on and been successful and now you see what we’re doing here.”
Regarding the allegations attached to his departure from Indiana, Wilson also added: “We wouldn’t be here, doing this job, if those things were true. 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.”
Although Meyer’s relationship with Wilson dates back to the early-2000s, the sixth-year Buckeyes head coach said he thoroughly vetted his new offensive coordinator — a process Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith confirmed to The Lantern. Given the high profile nature of both the Buckeyes program and Wilson’s departure, the two even consulted with Ohio State president Michael Drake before hiring Wilson in early-January.
“Like anything, there’s stories that get thrown out there. I talked to Kevin myself at great length. I talked to others that knew him that were there. Gene Smith did as well,” Meyer said. “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. So it was rather quick, and it came back everything was good.”
His last job now behind him, Wilson is now focused on helping Ohio State fix a passing attack that ranked 81st nationally in 2016. He won’t have to wait long for a return to Bloomington, however, as the Buckeyes open up at Indiana this season on Aug. 31.
It will certainly be a strange sight to see Ohio State’s new offensive coordinator back at the stadium where he spent six seasons helping turn around the Hoosiers program.
But make no mistake about it, Kevin’s a Buckeye now.