After Edinboro offensive coordinator and former NFL coach, Mike Miller, departed from the football program following the 2014 season, the Scots hired Vinny Marino away from Boston College. Marino has since returned to the Golden Eagles leaving a void at the position for this season. Enter Joe Wanson, a former Edinboro quarterback, to help show the Scots the way on offense and attempt to get the program back to playing “Boro Football.”
“I was already coaching McDowell up in Erie,” explained Wanson of the job opening last week in his office. “I still live in Edinboro and I never really left. We’ve talked over the last few years, you know if there was ever an opportunity for me to come back, maybe something we could look into. This one kind of popped up.”
A 2009 Edinboro University graduate and former backup quarterback for the Scots from 2005-09, Wanson will coach the quarterbacks and wide receivers this year after being hired in late July as a full-time assistant to head coach Scott Browning’s staff.
“I know coach [Browning] has had a lot of different people in here recently and if I came back, one thing I said I wanted to do is go back to playing ‘Boro Football’,” Wanson said. “When I was here we were very successful. We were winning seven, eight, nine games a year. We were a playoff team. We were a PSAC championship team.”
Wanson spent the last five years as an assistant coach at McDowell High School in Erie as the quarterbacks, wide receivers and defensive backs coach while leading the junior varsity team for the Trojans. As a secondary education-social studies major, Wanson earned his undergraduate bachelor’s degree in 2009 and has taught for the last five years in addition to coaching.
“For me, it’s my career now,” Wanson said. “Before I was a teacher, like I said, and football was part of my life and obviously I spent time in it, but now I come to work every day and this is what I do. Coach Browning and the other coaches we have here have really shown me that this is your life right now and it’s something that I’m very excited to do.”
Wanson may be best known in the Edinboro area as former Boro signal caller and current CFL star Trevor Harris’ backup. Harris, who set and still holds nearly every record in Edinboro’s passing and total offensive categories, was aided by Wanson’s diligent work off the field, however, and Wanson points to that experience as one reason why he got into coaching.
“A lot of the guys kind of looked to me and I understood that I could teach them and explain things to them and it kind of worked out,” Wanson said in reference to his playing days at Edinboro. “That teaching part of the aspect has really transitioned well for me into coaching.” The former DuBois Area High School standout also credits his former coaches with helping him find his niche in the coaching profession.
“Obviously Coach Browning, he was the offensive coordinator and then the head coach while I was here; Mike Yurcich was the offensive coordinator when I was here,” Wanson said. “He’s now the OC at Oklahoma State. At the high school level, my head coach there was Mark Sobeleski and then Brad Orlando. I picked up a lot of things from both of them that are not necessarily game plan things, but just the way to be around the guys and explain things...small things you don’t really think about.”
Wanson, who will coach in the press box rather than from the sidelines this fall, describes the offensive look as “multiple” and the Scots will not be eager to play at a fast pace to begin the year, but rather slow it down and get lined up. “At times we’ll be under center, we’ll be two-back [and] at other times we’ll be [using] four or five wide receivers,” Wanson explained.
“I think game plan wise, it’s from week to week that will affect that. Obviously our goal is to get our best players on the field so there could be a game where we play four receivers 80 percent of the snaps. The next week we might play two tight ends the entire time.”
Regardless of the specific game plan it always will be, “Boro Football.”
Mike Fenner is a staff writer for The Spectator. He can be reached at email@example.com.