March 31, 2006

Big News, but probably not to you

The University of Iowa and Iowa State University Replace Their Wrestling Coaches

This has set off mass hysteria on a wrestling message board I frequent. 14th year coach Bobby Douglas at ISU has apparently been forced out in favor of 2004 Olympic gold medalist and 4x undefeated NCAA Champ Cael Sanderson, who is only 26 years old and has only been a coach for 2 years. Across the state, Jim Zalesky has been fired at the University of Iowa after a rough season. Iowa did rally to place fourth at the NCAA championships, but the team was sixth in the Big Ten and had its worst record in many years.

Some believe this was set off by the retirement of Ohio State head coach Russ Hellickson last week. Perhaps Iowa and Iowa State were concerned that potential coaches for their teams would jump at the opportunity to coach at a Big Ten school in the heart of one of the most fertile high school wrestling areas in the country. Once upon a time, Iowa State graduate and future coaching legend Dan Gable left ISU to coach at Iowa, and became a legend there instead of back in Ames. ISU likely didn't want that scenario to repeat itself with Sanderson. As for Iowa, current Virginia Tech coach, gold medalist, and Iowa grad Tom Brands might have been tempted by an offer at Ohio State and is considered a front runner for the Iowa job. He apparently has an out in his VT contract if the Iowa job comes open (I have no idea how people know this information about his contract, or if it's actually true). The main reason I believe that the OSU job was somewhat of a catalyst was that Zalesky at Iowa had just a single year left on his current contract, thus making the timing of his firing seem a tad odd.

Of course, the most interesting thing is that two premier wrestling programs axed their coaches on the exact same day. Second most interesting is the reported fact that Jim Zalesky's coaching salary this year was around $97,000, which I'd imagine is quite a bit in Iowa City.

I'll be interested to see where this game of musical coaches ends up.

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