But while Wilson has never been a head coach before (unless you count that year he spent at Foard High School in his home state of North Carolina), he’s been one of the most successful assistant coaches in the country for more than a decade. At Northwestern he convinced coach Randy Walker to shift to a spread offense, thereby making the Wildcats a perennial Big Ten competitor; at Oklahoma he did the same thing, expanding Bob Stoops’ offense toward the edges of the field and shaping quarterback Sam Bradford into a first-round draft pick.
All this was accomplished by moving quickly; Bradford’s strength, Wilson says, is that he was able to process information incredibly fast, “like the Internet.” (Wilson relies largely on video as a teaching tool, because he doesn’t believe kids have the patience to read anymore.) Even when he is a hard-ass, he does it with swiftness: If a player fumbles once during practice, he is immediately pulled for the rest of the session without a word. In Wilson’s practices, one drill melds into another, and sets are run with urgency, up and down the field, with the music serving as a metronome. (At one point, the team’s placekicker does the worm.) Acefor3Acefor3Coltfor3 … “You gotta learn to play when it’s cluttered up,” he says. “Things are going on, still gotta listen, still gotta concentrate.”