Quincy Wilson is back with the Mountaineer football program although, in reality, he never really left. The former WVU great was recently named assistant director of football operations after spending the last two years working as a marketing sales manager for State Industrial Corporation, based in Cleveland.
Morgantown was part of Quincy’s sales territory and he could frequently be found at the stadium or in the football complex taking in practice and workouts. It was during one practice last spring when West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen approached Wilson about an idea he had.
“I was at spring practice one day and he was like, ‘Hey, I have an idea I’ve been bouncing around’ and he kind of described what he wanted in the job … ‘I don’t want this’ and ‘I want that’ and I thought it sounded great,” the former running back said. “He didn’t know if this was going to happen in the fall, next year or the time table, but this was the idea he had for the football program. I was like, ‘Coach if it ever comes along let me know.’ I interviewed for it (two weeks ago) and accepted it.”
Wilson’s new role as assistant director of football operations is all-encompassing. He could be working with compliance, academic support and residence life, organizing preseason training camp, overseeing daily meals, assisting with the community relations program, helping administer the University’s LifeSkills program or simply assisting student-athletes with their daily needs. In many ways, Wilson’s role with the football program will be that of a trouble-avoider instead of a trouble-shooter.
“There are unique things that come up, whether it’s losing your keys and not knowing where to go to get another set … the biggest thing we don’t want to have is guys not knowing what to do or not knowing how to get help with something,” Wilson explained. “I’m probably going to be on call 24 hours a day, but if that’s the case, fine, whatever keeps our guys on track and on the way to what we’ve got to do to become what we want to become.”
Wilson says getting to know all of the players will be his No. 1 objective.
“I know Geno (Smith). I know Tavon (Austin), Ivan (McCartney) and those guys, and now I really want to know them,” he said. “I want to know, who is your roommate? What is your sister’s name or your mom’s name? Where are you from? Where do you vacation? What is your favorite movie?
“The quicker I can get a pulse on the team the easier it is, in turn, for them to come back to me and say, ‘Hey, I’m homesick’ or ‘I really don’t like the food we have here’ or whatever situations may come up,” Wilson said. “I want them to trust me and I want to be able to trust them to build that respect where they don’t just look at me as a coach or as one of their friends. They look at me as a guy who they can come to whenever something is going on.”
Wilson has done this before. As a player during the transition from Don Nehlen to Rich Rodriguez, Quincy was frequently praised by his teammates for assisting in the adjustment to the two different coaching staffs. It was Wilson’s easy-going nature that sometimes bridged the gap between his teammates and the new coaches, and bridging any gaps there may be between the players and the current coaches is something he believes he can continue to do in his new role - not that the coaching staff doesn’t have an adequate pulse on the team. It’s just that coaches simply don’t have enough time in the day to know everything there is to know about their players and that is where Wilson can step in and help.
“Sometimes you don’t know,” Wilson explained. “We’re big, macho guys; we’re football players and who is going to say ‘I’m homesick because my girlfriend is there?’ You don’t want to say that. But if you come to somebody that you trust and confide in, we may be able to help them a little bit. There are going to be unique challenges that come up, and every day is probably going to be different, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Because Wilson was a successful player at WVU who later played in the pros, he is certain that will carry weight with some of the players. But he also believes his life’s experiences will be just as important in dealing with the day-to-day issues college football players encounter.
“In the end, really it’s about my whole career in general,” Wilson said. “I had to wait my turn to play here. I had to wait my turn in the NFL to get my shot. I know what it means to be an in-state guy and have everyone saying ‘why aren’t you playing?’ I can offer a lot of examples that may come up during the season or during their careers.
“It’s about finding your role,” he continued. “When you get here you’re going to be bright-eyed. Mom and dad finally dropped you off and you are away from home – it’s not a camp – and they’re going to be gone so now what do I do? The quicker we can get them adjusted to the college life; going to class - finding their way to class - practices, how to take care of their bodies after practice? What to eat, what to stay away from? … The quicker we can get them adjusted, the more success we will have. By the time these guys are seniors they will be helping the young guys.”
As a West Virginian, Wilson understands what Mountaineer football means to the people of the state and the great expectations that come along with it.
“We have had a great run. Three BCS bowl wins, great players, draft picks, etc., so we’re up there now. We’re in the Big 12. We’re in a great conference and with that come expectations,” Wilson explained. “Sometimes we’ve handled expectations well and other times we haven’t handled it so well, and that’s one of the things I’m going to be a big stickler on of taking care of business and making sure every player finds a role in this program.”
Since taking over the head coaching reins last summer, Holgorsen has taken a player-first approach and the hiring of Wilson only reaffirms that player-first commitment.
“It’s important. It’s college. Stuff is going to happen and they have to know where to turn to and how to avoid certain situations and that’s what I want to help them with,” Wilson noted. “I’m a young guy and I’m ready to roll.”Check out Antonik's new book The Backyard Brawl: Stories from One of the Weirdest, Wildest, Longest Running, and Most Intense Rivalries in College Football History available in bookstores this fall. A portion of the sales benefit the WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Also, be sure to "Like" the new Backyard Brawl Facebook page and tell us your personal WVU-Pitt story.