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August 29, 2016

Frank Wilson

San Antonio, Texas

Q. Week one, are you ready for Saturday?
COACH WILSON: Ready for Saturday. It's building, it's building up to it. We'll be ready right on time. Sometimes you get ready too early. You get overzealous and the anticipation becomes overwhelming. We're just taking it steady, taking it steady.

It's game week. Preparation is continuing. We'll climax at the right time.

Q. Coach, is this a special week for you? How special, I guess, might be the question.
COACH WILSON: Special enough, when you look at the opportunity that's been presented to this staff, the opportunity for these players to be able to have a fresh start, and for those seniors to start their senior campaign off in grand fashion.

My individual piece of it is so minute in all of this because you have so many other people that are vested in this, a president and athletic director who took a chance on this new coaching staff, a coaching staff where guys left jobs that weren't released from their jobs. They left their jobs and they came here. So it's so much bigger than myself.

So big in the case from a holistic standpoint of doing something that will put us in direction to have a successful season.

Q. What do you know about Alabama State and what Brian (Jenkins) is doing there?
COACH WILSON: They are a very talented team. They improved on their winning percentages once he became the head coach there. You look at his background and what he did at Bethune-Cookman and getting those guys to a championship status. I've known him since his days back at UL-Lafayette with Rickey Bustle in the '90s, was always a very astute, highly intellectual guy. So I know his team will be well-prepared and be well-coached.

But they have some talent. They have some talent at the receiver position. They have some talent at the running back position. They have done well on special teams. Defensively they'll do things, a myriad of things to try to confuse a quarterback. But we're just expecting a really good game from a really solid football team.

Q. How often have you visualized or in your head just the anticipation -- I know you don't want to leave it out on the practice field, as they said, and is it building up for you personally and then quiet moments when you go home and are away from the team, just the walking in, leading your team into the Dome on game day?
COACH WILSON: I probably haven't got to that point yet. I'm still on the practice field. We haven't loaded up yet. I guess every day is an opportunity for us to get better, and so this morning's dedication was to build the best practice script to allow us to be in position to get the looks that we're going to need to get for the opponent, to do the things necessary to improve us and to take day-by-day a different emphasis of the game plan and put it on paper so our team can go out and practice those things and there are no elements of surprise, that we're well prepared.

Q. I know they are coming in with a little bit of question mark at quarterback. I hear they could use any of three. What does that do for your game plan not knowing who will be playing for the other team as a starter?
COACH WILSON: Well, you just look at what they've done over the years from an offensive perspective, with Mark Orlando, the offensive coordinator. I've followed him from his days at Southern University in Baton Rouge. So systematically, we have an idea of what they are going to be just by knowing the offensive coordinator and what he has done in previous years and had high success, winning the Black College National Championship at Southern, as the offensive coordinator there, and looking at the things they did a year ago.

So although the person may be different at the helm, we think from a schematic standpoint, they will be very similar.

Q. Speaking of quarterbacks, what about your own guy? Have you made a decision yet or how long do you think it will carry out?
COACH WILSON: I think it will carry out all the way until kickoff or at least right before kickoff. Right now, both guys are playing extremely well and continue to do the things that we ask of them, and there has been no clear separation from one or the other.

Q. What about the head coaching job, whatever month this is for you since you got hired -- any surprises? This is obviously your first gig as a head coach. You have been an assistant coach. I know you were head coach in high school. Anything about the job that surprised you or that you've had to -- or is it kind of football is football, coaching is coaching?
COACH WILSON: Yeah, well, I think the responsibility certainly is heightened. For things like this, where usually as the assistant coach you are in there game planning and doing those things all day throughout the duration of the day, this is my second media responsibility, and yet a third and fourth throughout the duration of the day. So I wouldn't say surprise, but just a responsibility to be accountable to the media, to the community and as the state of our program.

So those are the things that are different than as an assistant coach you may not have done. Not surprisingly, just a little different.

Q. Is it pressure where you are the man now, where when you were the running back coach, that was your groove? Now you are like the dad, you are everybody. You are responsible for the whole team, what is that like? Does that put more pressure on a guy?
COACH WILSON: I tell our coaches, you are the head coach of your position group. I ask them to view it that way, that you are an expert at your position and you know your position group best. So when we come into a staff room, to be able to give us information about the status of each individual in your position group is a task that we're asking you to take upon and be able to share with us, because it gives us a grand view of or team as a whole.

So the good thing is with empowering our assistant coaches is there are individual head coaches within their position groups, and getting all the feedback allows me to see the whole team as a whole. I am getting that input because we have done such a really good job, from the assistant coach's perspective, and I couldn't be more proud of the staff that we've had assembled and the job that they are doing to give us feedback which allows me to be able to talk to you guys with a knowledge base and an overall view of our team.

Q. In looking at your early depth chart, you have got three transfers who are running first string. Is that indication that those guys are that much better than what was here or what does that say about the program and the talent you inherited when those guys came in?
COACH WILSON: Yeah, I think it's just the reality of us being able to bring in talented players to accompany what we already have. I think the cupboard was not bare when we got here, but certainly we needed depth at every position group, and so we brought that to the table. It has enhanced us as a football team. I think we continue to get better because of it.

Q. As you look at it, potentially, how many players do you feel like could play in Saturday's game? Do you feel like it's a situation where you might play as many as possible?
COACH WILSON: Yeah, you know, right now we haven't declared any person as a redshirt. We want them to play. We want them to take the field. We want contributors. The more that can contribute, the better off we are a team. It speaks to the quantity of players that we have. We want them to be able to have that opportunity. So we don't have a target number, but I would imagine somewhere within the two deep offense defensively and spotting some of these guys as well on special teams. So 11, 22, I guess about 50 or so players probably should play.

Q. It's interesting you mention the redshirt, that's a big difference in what you had at LSU. How much of a -- not a confidence boost, but how much do you think that builds for players knowing that they could be going in at any time?
COACH WILSON: Ironically, it was the same thing at LSU. We played the freshman and it was one of the things that we spoke to the kids about when we went into the homes. You will have an opportunity to compete. Young guys take the field here. So you look at the history at that place and so many guys played as freshmen and sophomores, although we had a few that redshirted.

So what happens to the program here, we go back to that quantity deal and being able to build our roster and our team to a point where the first, the second, the third can take the field with very little discrepancy from one guy to another. We continue to try to do that because we'll need them, we'll need them for the duration of the year.

Q. Earlier this summer I asked Everett Withers, I went over there and we were talking about he's just one of just a handful of African American head coaches. Of course he mentioned you right off, along with Charlie Strong up the road in Austin. Can you talk about just what you carry on the field with you as an African-American coach, the fact that there's not a lot who get the opportunity. And you're here in San Antonio and maybe it means a little bit more because we're such a multicultural city and all, but can you address that? I know it's a subject -- but I think it's pertinent?
COACH WILSON: When you look at our city as a whole, San Antonio, the state of Texas, it's a land of opportunity. You look at our country as a whole and how far we've come, but yet how far we still need to go as a whole.

But for me, there's been so many coaches that came before myself. I, from afar, looked at a guy like Denny Green and then got a chance to meet him and spend time with him and watched him or researched him during his time at Northwestern, and then watched him during his time at Stanford and of course with the Vikings, et cetera. So many other guys, Ty Willingham, and on, on and on. A good friend of mine, Mike Tomlin, who is with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the National Football League. But the realty at the collegiate state, it's more challenging to get an opportunity. But we're very fortunate because the city of San Antonio, our president of this University, our athletic director and the Board that decided to interview a cast of potential candidates judged based on the character of the person and their ability to lead a program and their view and outlook on what it took to build a program and to sustain one.

So I am very fortunate and very humbled about the opportunity that someone saw me for my vision and the things that I had done and could do and not based it on my skin color.

Q. Did you ever meet Eddie Robinson?
COACH WILSON: I did. I had two uncles, three uncles played for him at Grambling, so I spent a lot of summers up there with what they call the legend.

Q. What did you think of him? He was bigger than life, wasn't he?
COACH WILSON: Oh, yeah, I was -- this is from when I was a youth, all the way up, I thought he walked on water. He was iconic in my eyes. You look at what he did at one university, and one of the things that I admire about him, one job, one wife, 50 years; what a beautiful thing. And he did it at a consistent base and for a long time was the pipeline to the National Football League in developing his players.

Q. Speaking of leadership, when you were with the New Orleans Public Schools System, and when you were the athletic director there, one of things you fought was bringing football into the junior high school level. Could you explain why that was and maybe your legacy, seeing guys who have been able to come up through that and go out and make a career for themselves, as well as many others?
COACH WILSON: Yeah, you know, at one point the city of New Orleans got into a financial deficit, and the remedy was to get rid of middle school sports. And getting rid of middle school sports, especially the sport of football, you not only got rid of the team, but the cheer squad, the band, the dance squad, all the people that partake in those Thursday, Friday evening games were now with idle time. So what happened is you saw a city that began to increase in delinquency, in kids missing school and all the other things that come when they don't have something to occupy their time.

So I was able to partner with some of the city government and just implement things within the school system to get it back, whether it was with the police department, whether it was with the mayor's department, whether it was outreaching with the National Football League, as well as the tennis association, the swimming association, to do things to keep our student-athletes and the city involved at that time.

Q. How rare was it, though, your opportunity at that point, 28, 29-years-old, leading other coaches who might have been 25 or 30 years older than you were? How is that going to help you out maybe as you build your football program here?
COACH WILSON: Yeah, you know what, I think it was a vision, it was ingenuity, it was different. So when I took over the helms as the athletic director, the athletic department was always in a good spot in a sense. My responsibility included health and fitness and everything from the vending machines in the schools, to the cafeteria and the menu, and obesity was at an all-time high. We just did various things to try to make a difference in the lives of students at that age.

And then from a sports perspective, just wanted to channel in the things that I was doing one time at a high school and bring it to an entire school district. Probably the biggest thing was just educating our high school counselors. If you go to a school that traditionally had not had a lot of college signees, those counselors are taught what the students or student-athlete needs to graduate from high school, whatever the state board had set forth for them. So they are 23 and a half units, but not necessarily the things that the NCAA clearinghouse and its policy and procedures had set forth.

So the success we had when I was a high school coach could have also happened to a lot of other high schools, but that piece was missing. When I became athletic director, we began to give professional development and workshops to high school counselors on how to put student-athletes in position to be college scholarship recipients. So we were able to do so, and the scholarship ranks went up and they are still doing really well down there, as student-athletes go to college by the droves.

Q. We talked earlier this summer about the importance of your father in your life, how hard he worked as a conductor for the railroad. Do you find it somehow fitting that your first game as a college head coach is right there at the side of the railroad tracks?
COACH WILSON: You know, I never knew it. Now that you say it, I recognize it. I never paid much attention to it or even recognized it. That's tremendous irony. The interesting thing is it's near -- my father passed away on the 24th of this month, and so it's always a time of reflection for myself and my family. And so it's the first time in a long time that I haven't been able to go to the grave site and do the things because of my responsibilities here. But certainly always have him in mind and what he instilled in us and want to carry that name proudly because it's a legacy that I'm extremely honored to be able to carry on behalf of my father and my grandfather.

Q. I want to follow up, it's such a good story about you and Coach Robinson. You say you had three uncles that played for him?

Q. How old were you? You used to go up there and go to their workouts? How old were you when you first started going there, a kid?
COACH WILSON: Yeah, yeah, a kid. My first uncle would have played there -- he was on the same team with Doug Williams, so he was Doug's roommate, Gregory Wilson. And he was on that team. So from the time, I guess I was three, four, five years old. So I would guess from the mid '70s all the way through late '80s, sporadically we would go up there for summertime or homecoming.

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