I purposefully decided to wait a bit to write this post; I wanted to get past my emotions about Cael's departure and write about it after more information came to light and as the Cyclone Wrestling team began the transistion to the post-Sanderson era.
The Good News:
Iowa State has a new Wrestling coach and he's a good one. Kevin Jackson is a former Cyclone All-American, Captain of a Iowa State National Championship team, Gold Medalist in the Barcelona Olympics, and USA Wrestling's National Freestyle Coach for the last several years.
His coaching resume, while not proven collegiately (yet), is outstanding on an international level. He's shown success a coach at the level that all recruits aspire to one day reach - which is outstanding; one could make the comparison that if this was football not wrestling, he's the equivilent of a Superbowl-winning NFL coach come back to his alma mater as HC.
So far, he's been able to salvage 8 of the 10 returning letterwinners (one of the transfer's being Sanderson's youngest brother, senior-to-be Cyler) and 2 of the 4 recruits in the class which keeps us in contention for a national title next year (but less so than before Cael's decision to leave).
Last thoughts on Cael:
Now that Cael is officially gone and things have been held together in Ames, one question remains: Why did he leave?
As I've written before, he was the highest paid coach in the country, coaching at his alma mater, who had given him everything he asked for, with his brother a senior-to-be on the team, and in front of a fanbase that loved him - so why leave?
I'm not sure that we'll ever really get the answer but for two interesting perspectives, I offer up the following from two brothers: this
from current Cyclone grappler Duke Burk's brother Danny and this
from Cael's brother and assistant Cody.
Burk offer's some interesting, logical, and quite possibly nail-on-the-head accurete conjecture:
It is often possible that even the best feel they need to get away from certain situations. For whatever reason, even when they seem to have everything they could want, they feel the need to get away. The situation with Cael Sanderson fits the mold perfectly for this exact type of behavior.
He goes on to specify the following two reasons:
- Cael probably didn't like the pressure of being compared to Iowa (which is more so at in-state rival Iowa State than conference rival Penn State). Burk doesn't mention it but Cyclone athlete-turned-Hawkeye coach Dan Gable's success in the role probably excaberated the pressure.
- He may have felt too much pressure to win from Iowa State fans; losses from Cael Sanderson never jibed, each one was a let down to fans. Iowa State fans may have "loved him too much" as the icon that is (was).
As I said, Danny Burk's thoughts make a lot of sense and is probably the closest-to-the-program information that we'll see in a public forum. I'm glad he shared them.
As for the thoughts from Cody, they provide an interesting perspective on how hard the decision was and how little Cael's closest confidents knew in the process.