LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Frank Wilson - a husband, father, and football coach. However, the final title is one he originally thought he would never hold.
“I never grew up saying I wanted to be a coach," McNeese head football coach Frank Wilson said. "At a young age in junior high and high school, I wanted to be an attorney. I thought that if I could get in the military and get in the JAG Program then that would pay for my law school.”
For the 46-year-old coach from New Orleans, it wasn’t until the end of his playing days that he realized roaming the sidelines was his true calling.
It was basically God’s Divine Intervention in my mind because the only reason I got into coaching was by way of an injury and to retain my scholarship I had to do those duties of a student assistant," admitted Wilson.
Wilson’s coaching career has spanned nearly a quarter of a century and has taken him all across the southern region. After coaching at the high school level in his native New Orleans, Wilson got his first taste of the college level in 2005 at Ole Miss under Ed Orgeron. Over the course of his time in the collegiate ranks, Wilson found his niche as a recruiter and has been recognized as one of the best in the country.
“You’re an artist that gets to put your best work on canvas and your best work is someone saying to you, ‘Here are my dreams and aspirations. I want to do this and do that,” Wilson said. “Instead of the guy who tells them their dreams are deferred, say to them, “We have a blueprint, we know how to help you attain those things.’ ”
Wilson spent the first decade of his college coaching career as an assistant before getting his first opportunity to lead a program when he was named the head man at the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2016. He took the program to its first-ever bowl game but failed to post an overall winning record in his four-year stint, resulting in him being let go and in search of a new home.
That search led Wilson to Lake Charles where he became the first black head football coach in the history of McNeese State University and just the second in the history of the Southland Conference. In light of setting a precedent, Wilson realizes that's not where it starts or ends.
“Frank Wilson isn’t that great," Wilson said of himself. “There have been men before you that have knocked at the door that have worked extremely hard and you happened to be the person that got that opportunity. So, what do you do with it now? Do you boast gleefully or arrogantly and go ‘Look at me?’ Or do you use it as an opportunity graciously, humbly, and gratefully to be thankful for it and then use it to inspire the next one who has aspirations.”
There are several firsts that come with Wilson's new opportunity in Cowboy Country, including being able to coach his son Frank IV for the first time in his life. The elder Frank made sure he took the right approach when it came to getting his namesake to join his squad.
“There was never a question of, ‘Do you want to commit and come play for dad?’ That never came up," said Wilson. "Once he showed a sincere interest, I allowed our staff to recruit him just like every other kid is recruited. Whether it was handwritten letters of the position coach or coordinators, they did their part and it’s worked out.”