No coach ever left a school in as classy a way as Ken Wilson left the Nevada Wolf Pack on Wednesday.
The long-time Wolf Pack assistant football coach Ken Wilson announced he was taking a job at Washington State. Wilson agreed to join the Cougars almost a month ago yet remained on the Wolf Pack staff as an active coach to help through recruiting.
"We want to thank him for his professionalism and extraordinary effort since the transition took place," said Pack coach Brian Polian, who was announced as Chris Ault's successor on Jan. 11. "His work in recruiting this class was invaluable."
The Wolf Pack signed 21 players on Wednesday and Wilson was instrumental in most of them.
"In our short time together, I developed a great appreciation for his work ethic and his commitment to the University of Nevada," Polian said. "I have no doubt that he will bring those same intangibles to Wazzu.”
Polian had said on Jan. 11 that Wilson was going to be the Pack's Director of Football Operations, leaving his role as an on-the-field defensive coach for 19 seasons. Wilson, who coached for Pack head coaches Chris Ault (1989-92, 1994-95, 2004-12), Jeff Horton (1993), Jeff Tisdel (1996-99) and Polian (Jan. 11-Feb. 6, 2013), did whatever was asked of him for two decades at Nevada, coaching linebackers, safeties, defensive ends and also serving a defensive coordinator and associate head coach.
“I’ve spent more than two decades at the University of Nevada and I’ll forever be thankful for everything that this University and the northern Nevada community has done for me and for my family," Wilson said in a statement released by the university.
"I want to thank Chris Ault and all of the administrators, coaches and staff that I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years. My family and I are truly excited for this next chapter of our lives but Reno and the University of Nevada will always have a special place in our hearts.”
Wilson, an Illinois native, came to the Pack in 1989 after after two years as a graduate assistant at New Mexico. He also spent a year (1986) as a graduate assistant at North Central College, where he played linebacker in the 1980s.
Wilson, despite never having been the head coach at Nevada, will be remembered as one of the greatest coaches in school history. No coach at Nevada has coached in more bowl games at Nevada (11) than Wilson. He was also an assistant at Nevada when the Pack went to the Division I-AA playoffs in 1990 and 1991, advancing to the national championship game in 1990.
Wilson also sent more of his position players to the NFL than any other Pack coach, tutoring NFL linebackers such as Deshone Myles, Mike Crawford, Brandon Marshall, Ezra Butler, Josh Mauga, Jerome Johnson, Dontay Moch, Kaelin Burnett and James-Michael Johnson at Nevada.
Wilson joins former Wolf Pack assistant Jim Mastro on Mike Leach's staff at Washington State.