UTSA football and new head coach Frank Wilson make for a perfect pairing. Since the program’s inception, UTSA has always been a gusher waiting for the right leadership to tap it.
The hiring of Larry Coker as UTSA’s first head coach in 2009 gave the Roadrunners immediate name recognition; at that point, Coker was just eight years removed from coaching arguably the greatest assembly of talent in college football history at Miami to a national championship. The Hurricanes came an overtime and blown pass interference call away from repeating in 2002 under Coker.
However, Miami’s downward trajectory under Coker, after predecessor Butch Davis’ recruits embarked on NFL careers, was a more accurate predictor for UTSA’s fledgling years. The Roadrunners flourished initially in one season of FCS independence and a brief stint in the WAC, but failed to meet expectations each of the last two years in Conference USA.
UTSA always needed a head coach like Frank Wilson. Last offseason, I examined the recent boom of new Div. I football programs and the hires each made. Programs that tabbed old-guard head coaches, as UTSA did, were floundering. The programs that gave up-and-comers in the profession an opportunity saw results.
Frank Wilson is a first-timer leading program but hardly a stranger to success. Wilson spent about as long as UTSA football has existed coaching running backs at LSU and coordinating the Tigers’ run game. No matter the play-caller, LSU’s strength has consistently been its rushing attack over the last half-decade, and no more so than in 2015 with Leonard Fournette.
Fournette tweeted an endorsement of Wilson Friday, preceding UTSA’s official introduction press conference.
Forever my coach @LSUCoachWilson
— 7 (@_fournette) January 15, 2016
Talking of his tenacious rushing style this season, Fournette said via LSUSports.net:
“It’s something Coach Frank Wilson instills in all our running backs,” Fournette continued. “Never let one man take you down. You have to have a certain mindset and be comfortable with the ball in your hands. It’s just not just the team counting on you. It’s the whole state of Louisiana.”
Now, having a Leonard Fournette makes a Frank Wilson’s job easier. But to that end, Wilson brings some of the best recruiting credentials in college football. Wilson’s won National and SEC Recruiter of the Year honors in his time at LSU, and at UTSA, the sky’s the limit for attracting big-time talent to San Antonio.
UTSA is arguably the highest potential of the new programs to have launched in the last half-decade or so. Situated in the deep Texas recruiting pool, UTSA is also in a metropolitan area. Moreover, the Roadrunners are San Antonio’s only high-level football attraction.
Upon launch, UTSA attracted crowds of more than 40,000 routinely to the Alamodome. Attendance dropped commensurate with the failed expectations seen in Coker’s last two seasons.
The city has proven willing to buy into Roadrunner football, however. All it needs is some energy, and Frank Wilson promises to inject that missing element upon his arrival.
Wilson’s first task: put that lofty recruiting reputation to work. UTSA currently ranks No. 115 nationally per 247Sports.com’s composite scores. That’s unacceptable for a program with the nearby options and potential of UTSA.
Making a splash with less than three weeks before national signing day is Wilson’s first step in tapping the unearthed possibilities for one of college football’s hidden gems. It helps that UTSA athletic brass reached out to a hidden gem coach.
Les Miles on UTSA’s Frank Wilson: “He’s ready to be a head coach. He’s worked long & hard for this opportunity. He’s going to do great job”
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) January 15, 2016