Friday night at 6:14 pm my phone buzzed because I had an incoming text message, it was my blogging cohort Nick and the message went as follows: "Cael Sanderson to take over PSU Wrestling, your thoughts?" I starred vacantly at my phone for a couple seconds and then checked my mug of beer because I was sure someone put something in it. "Stunned" doesn't even begin to describe my mood, I never thought in a million years that the Penn State athletic department would be able to hire Sanderson away from Iowa State. Sure I saw the internet rumors but I never thought Sanderson would want to leave the school that gave him his first coaching job. The same school that he spent 12 years of his life at. The same school were younger brother Cyler currently wrestles. Quite frankly I'm still shocked.
"I didn't really have a wrong answer," he said. "I could stay here where I love Iowa State. This is the place I wanted to win at. It is home. The potential and possibilities of Penn State, it is the highest regarded institution of sports in the East, maybe the country. It's tough to turn down."
This was a home run for Penn State, they get a coach whose teams have finished no worse than fifth in his three years as the coach.
In three years, Sanderson's teams went 44-10, won three Big 12 Conference championships, qualified all 30 of his starting wrestlers for nationals, and earned 15 All-America awards and two individual national titles.
Qualified all 30 of his wrestlers, ALL of them, that's quite impressive. Sanderson brings with him an aggressive style and an Olympic Gold medal as well. Sanderson should be an instant shot in the arm for recruiting and he comes to one of the best states for wrestling.
"In the end, Cael said that he appreciated everything Iowa State and our fans had done for him, but he believes winning a national championship will be easier at Penn State,'' [Iowa State athletic director Jamie] Pollard said. "He said the high school talent in Pennsylvania and surrounding states is the best in the country, and the kids in that area grow up wanting to wrestle for the Nittany Lions. He also said their overall athletics department resources are the best in the country.
Penn State fans should take note, this shows that the Athletic Department is not afraid to go outside the "Penn State family" to hire a coach. A friend of mine suggested this weekend that perhaps this is a test bed for hiring someone with no ties to Penn State, after all if this blows up in [Director of Athletics] Tim Curley's face it's not a "major" sport and will go largely unnoticed but if it works out Curley can point to it as proof that it's better to get the best man for the job and not just the best "Penn State" man. Perhaps he has something there, that may be the case but one thing's for sure, Penn State got one hell of a coach. It's such a hire I think it's time to break out the Dancin' Monkey!!