SAN ANTONIO – Calling his team’s 17-10 victory against Baylor on Saturday night “a monumental feat,” UTSA football coach Frank Wilson said Monday the Roadrunners savored the win until Sunday night when they began preparing for this week’s opponent.
The upset of the Bears in Waco was UTSA’s first win in 10 games against a Power 5 opponent since its first season in 2011.
The Roadrunners play Southern (1-1) in their home opener at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Alamodome. The Jaguars are coming off a 45-0 beating from Southern Miss, which plays in the West Division of Conference USA with UTSA, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTEP.
After returning to campus shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday, the team met later in the day and watched film of Saturday night’s game.
“Sunday is about the truth for us,” Wilson told reporters at his weekly session with the media. “The truth was we did the things necessary to win the football game. We pointed out our goals pregame, and the ones we attained (and) ensured victory for us.
“We had that moment to reflect on that game and to enjoy it, because it was worth enjoying. It was a monumental feat for us, so we enjoyed it. And then it’s gone. Now on to the next opponent. Right now, Southern University has our undivided attention.”
Wilson assured the Roadrunners won't take the Jags lightly.
"I think we go about our business as professionals, as coaches, in our game preparation," he said. "I think players feed off the staff and they'll see our intensity and our attention to detail, and the expectation in practice and effort and accountability. I think when you do those things, it becomes second nature to you.
"No different than a week ago. It's a Power 5 school. It don't matter. We go about our business meticulously preparing for this opponent. We'll do the same yet again, regardless of the conference affiliation or the opponent. We have to do the things we need to do to prepare for this team, and it started last night."
Born and raised in New Orleans, Wilson grew up with an abiding admiration for Southern University and the other historically black universities that compete in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
“For many years, for decades, it was the only place that African Americans could go pre-integration,” Wilson said. “And, so, they didn’t have an opportunity to go to other universities unless you went to Syracuse or somewhere up north.
“But down in the South, that opportunity did not allow that to happen for you until the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide went to play against USC, and we know where the story goes from there, when the great Bear Bryant decided we may need to let some African Americans on our team to be able to compete at the level that he wanted to.”
Wilson said he has three uncles and six cousins who played for legendary coach Eddie Robinson at Grambling. Wilson, 43, attended preseason workouts at Grambling in the summers as a kid and recalled going to his first Grambling game at Tiger Stadium when he was “5, 6 years old.”
Wilson has vivid memories of how awed he was by Robinson.
“I remember walking into his office,” Wilson said. “My earliest recollection is being up there (Grambling, La.) in the summer and going into Coach Rob’s office and him saying, ‘Come on here, come on here. Hey, son, come on in here.’
“He talked like that when he talked,” Wilson said, smiling as he mimicked Robinson’s drawl. “I shook his hand and he picked me up and put me on his knee, and I was just like . . .”
Wilson’s eyes grew big as he recalled that moment.
One of Wilson’s uncles, Gregory Wilson, played at Grambling in the late 1970s and roomed with legendary quarterback Doug Williams, who went on become a Super Bowl MVP with the Washington Redskins.
Robinson coached at Grambling for 55 years before retiring after the 1997 season. He was the first coach in NCAA history to win 400 games, and retired with a career record of 408-165-15 Robinson died in 2007 at age 88.
“I thought he walked on water,” Wilson said. “I forever held Coach Eddie Robinson in high esteem and therefore had a view of historically black colleges and their football programs. The legends go on and on.
“From Jerry Rice to Walter Payton to you name it, Aeneas Williams, Doug Williams, Steve McNair. I have a lot of respect for the job that those (SWAC) coaches do, those programs do, in a very challenging environment.”
UTSA is in its second season under Wilson, an assistant coach at LSU for six seasons before succeeding Larry Coker in January 2016. The job is his first as a head coach at the college level.
The Roadrunners went 6-7 last year and went to their first bowl, losing to New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl.
Wilson was asked about the significance of the victory over Baylor, which competes in the Big 12 and finished 11-2 for the second consecutive season just three years ago.
“I think it meant that we’re on the right track,” he said. “We’re taking steps in the right direction, and that we’ve done it once and the possibility of doing it yet again is a reality. And, so, no longer are we sitting here hopeful that we can beat such an opponent. But that it’s doable and we’ve shown we have the ability to do so. I think it bodes well for us being able to recognize that we’re capable.”
The Roadrunners were scheduled to open their season against Houston on Sept. 2, but the game was canceled in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Wilson adjusted the team’s workouts to prevent any lag time or letdown, but he was thrown another curve last Thursday when Lynn Hickey, UTSA’s longtime director of athletics, announced her resignation. Hickey cited personal reasons for her decision to step down immediately.
“Tremendous amount of admiration, respect, for Lynn Hickey,” Wilson said Monday. “I’m forever indebted to her because she saw something in me when many did not. Love Lynn Hickey and all that she’s done for this university. Wish her the very best, and Bill Hickey (her husband), the very best with his health and the direction of their family. Couldn’t say enough good things about her.”
Wilson said he was surprised with Hickey’s decision to step aside.
“I didn’t know. Nobody told me,” he said. “I found out when everybody else found out.”
Hickey and former UTSA president Ricardo Romo, who retired in March, were among the first people to call with congratulations after the win over Baylor.