What does it mean to me?
I've had an uncomfortable feeling about Cael leaving ever since I first saw the internet rumors last night. It's physically bothered me and I've had to stop and ask myself why. I'm not a wrestling fan, per se; I've never wrestled myself and actually struggle to understand the scoring.
However, I love my Iowa State. My friends here in Indianapolis actually joke about my dedication in the fact that I'll ignore a NCAA men's regional being played in town to watch the women's team compete for the Sweet 16 in basketball on TV. I've been to baseball games (when we had them) and even the occasional volleyball and gymnastics meet. I usually get to at least one basketball game a year and even though I live 7.5 hours away I buy season tickets for football make it to most games.
For that reason, the defection of Cael Sanderson bothers me.
Cael's Legacy at Iowa State
Iowa State was in a similar position years ago when the first "greatest wrestler ever" was competing for Iowa State, Dan Gable. Gable wanted to coach and Iowa State did not have a spot for him so they let him get away and he want on to become the greatest coach ever at our rival school. That's a tough pill to swallow but, fortunately, it did not stop the only wrestler ever to best Gable's collegiate record from choosing Iowa State.
Cael is not only a wrestling icon but also an Iowa State icon (several fans named their sons in his honor after his collegiate career wrapped). He, along with his three brothers all, wrestled for the school and were literally a Cyclone family. He won the conference in each year he coached and was perennially within reach of a National Title. He was the highest paid person in his profession in the country and was believed to be in his dream job (coaching at his alma mater) at only 30 years old. Which begs the question, why leave at all (much less for a lesser program)?
Unfortunately, it seems like the "money" is the likely answer.