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Discussion: Cael Sanderson

posted on November 29, 2006

Tim Johnson has been the play-by-play voice on Iowa Public Television's College Wrestling broadcasts for the past 21 years. Also with us is Jim Gibbons. Jim is a former national champion wrestler, the ISU head coach, and long-time color announcer for college wrestling. They sit down with Todd Mundt to discuss the prospects of ISU wrestling head coach Cael Sanderson.

Mundt: Jim, first of all, since everyone is talking about this, let's talk about age and experience. Put those issues to bed.

Gibbons: Well, I'm probably the wrong guy to ask this because I was a young coach at that age. I think our sport has plenty of historical examples of guys who were able to compete very well: Myron Roderick at Oklahoma State; John Smith at Oklahoma State; you look at Dan Gable when he was over at the University of Iowa as an assistant and head coach in his late twenties. So age -- I think he's at a great age to do that. And let's face it, this is a physical sport and you've got to be out there showing the techniques. And as far as experience goes, he's experienced the best things in the sport. He's been the Olympic champion. It doesn't get any better than that. So I think that brings a wealth of experience to the job.

Mundt: Tim, age and experience?

Johnson: Well, therein lies the challenge. He's been the Olympic champion. He was perfect. He's an ultra motivated, ultra competitive, successful athlete, so I believe the challenge for Cael will be patience, to bring wrestlers that aren't at the level Cael was or is and to have patience in the process.

Mundt: Jim, how does Cael translate this ability to be a great wrestler into being a great coach?

Gibbons: Well, I think he needs to step back and take a wider angle view of what's happening in his program, and not just how things -- how he related to the experience there but how teammates -- his brothers are a great example of guys that wrestled hard for the program but maybe not experienced the high level of success he did. I think he'll draw pretty heavily from his family relationships there. And also the fact that his dad was a coach and very successful high school coach, he'll draw from that experience too. But taking a wide angle and not just, you know, the two or three things that are evident on the map there technique wise, but 15 or 16 things that affect your program from academics, social life, and the whole realm that affects your program.

Mundt: You get the sense in that interview that he was -- all through his career, he was thinking about how he might do things differently or the same if he was a coach. He was thinking about that.

Gibbons: I think you're exactly right, Todd.

Mundt: Tim, any thoughts?

Johnson: Well, I think narrowing down this wide angle, I believe that Cael has known that he was headed to coaching. I think it's a calling. And I believe now that this is his mat, in the same way when he was competing, he actually stepped on and wrestled, now his mat is coaching and I think he'll be successful.

Mundt: And what about the role of that support staff behind him?

Johnson: Well, he's got to teach. Now, there's the transition there. The support staff is very important, so he needs to learn how to use that support staff and that will determine whether he's successful or not.

Tags: Iowa wrestling

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