Those who know Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson well say he has a terrific sense of humor.

The football gods must, too.

Ohio State opens its season Thursday against Indiana, the school that fired Wilson as coach in December. The Buckeyes’ second game is against Oklahoma, the school at which Wilson cemented his reputation as an offensive mastermind.

As the man entrusted to add punch to an Ohio State offense that stagnated at key times the past two years, Wilson was destined to be in the spotlight anyway. That’s even more the case with the season starting with those two opponents.

Wilson, 55, discussed the Hoosiers game with reporters, and his answers were much like his play-calling — fast and a bit off-the-cuff.

He was charitable toward Indiana, which fired him amid allegations that he was insensitive to player injuries.

“It was a great place,” he said. “My daughters still go to school there.”

He said that he appreciated all that the Hoosiers players did for him as coach.

“You hug them all, and you love them,” Wilson said. “To me, that’s the tough thing. You’ve lost a relationship with kids you love. Those kids played very, very hard for us. I have a lot of respect for them.”

Asked about his knack as a play-caller, Wilson was self-deprecating and almost flippant.

“We call a lot of stupid plays,” he said at one point.

Asked if Indiana has an edge because it knows what he likes to do, Wilson quipped: “I’d like to know what I like to do, because I don’t know.”

He also described how he was tutored to be aggressive by his two main mentors: the late Randy Walker at Miami University and Northwestern, and recently retired Bob Stoops at Oklahoma.

“I’ve called plays since 1990,” Wilson said. “You made mistakes. Coach Walker used to say all the time, ‘Don’t call a play thinking about losing the game. Call what you see.’ Coach Stoops would talk to me about calling plays like you’re playing craps. You’ve got to let it roll.”

His offenses certainly have rolled. His teams set records in both the run and passing games at every stop in his coaching journey. Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, for example, is the NCAA’s career leader in passing efficiency.

Those who’ve coached and played with Wilson marvel at the way he instinctively finds ways to exploit defenses.

“I’ve not been around a guy who could just stand there and verbally walk through a scheme without drawing it up,” said Indiana coach Tom Allen, the Hoosiers’ defensive coordinator last year. “It was just all in his head. Most guys will get on the board. But just to talk it through without ever having to write it out, that’s unusual.

“He understands the strengths and weaknesses of every look. He’ll get you in a certain look by formation and then take advantage of the weakness.”

Richard Fant, Indiana’s star cornerback, watched film of upcoming opponent Iowa with Wilson a couple of years ago. He said that Wilson would predict the play before it was called, just from understanding the formation and situation.

“I was sitting there like, ‘Wow, he’s too smart for me right now,’” Fant said.

Wilson is a master of finding ways to isolate playmakers on overmatched defenders and finding seams in defenses. He believes that comes from his experience in another sport.

“I was kind of a basketball guy growing up in North Carolina,” he said. “I see spaces" to exploit.

Wilson prides himself on his flexibility. He finds out what works and adjusts within games.

“I never had a playbook,” he said. “You go with what works and what the guys are and the way you attack. You have a game plan, and as soon as you get hit in the mouth and things happen, you wad that up and have to have that ability to adjust.”

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer put that to the test in training camp.

“We've done more unscripted plays than we ever have for that purpose,” Meyer said. “I'll just throw the ball down (and say) 'Second-and-1,' 'Third-and-6' on purpose. They can't look off a sheet. They have to call plays (instinctively). (They’ve) done a very nice job.”

On Thursday, the real tests start. The return-to-Indiana story line will be something that others — not Wilson — will dwell on.

“I owe them my best in preparation and focus,” Wilson said of his players. “It would be so easy to get distracted. I’ve got a job to do, and I have to do the job the best I can.”