Wilson was a three-year starter and earned his bachelor's degree in communications at North Carolina State, but might be better known for his one-season stint at Wisconsin. During that 2011 season, Wilson led the Badgers to the Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl berth. He set several school records. Even Wilson's Seahawksbiography lists his college as UW.
The man who set that strange chain of events into action, former Wolf Pack head coach Tom O'Brien, indicated Friday that he has no regrets in a conference call with reporters. It was O'Brien who decided to make Mike Glennon the starting quarterback as Wilson spent what would have been his final spring practice playing minor league baseball in the Colorado Rockies organization instead. Wilson used the graduate transfer exception to become immediately eligible at UW.
"I'm not clairvoyant, I can't tell the future," O'Brien told the Charlotte Observer. "You make decisions based on the facts at that time. We had to make a decision that was best for N.C. State."
O'Brien insisted that his relationship with Wilson was never as fractured as it had been described in the media, portrayed at the time as an ultimatum to choose baseball or football.
N.C. State went 8-5 without Wilson, though Glennon accounted for a more-than-respectable 3,054 passing yards and 31 touchdowns against 12 interceptions in his first season as a starter. Wilson threw for 3,175 yards and 33 touchdowns with four interceptions, adding six rushing touchdowns to earn All-America honors at UW.
O'Brien was fired by N.C. State the following season after posting a 7-5 record, and is now an assistant coach at Virginia. But his legacy has become that of the man who chose Glennon and told Wilson to hit the road, no matter the reality of the circumstances.
"We were lucky to have those kids for five years," O'Brien said. "People ought to be happy about that."
N.C. State fans certainly are not, and it will only be reinforced again this week.