With Oklahoma State dropping two duals last weekend to Northern Iowa and Iowa State, Cowboy fans are looking for answers. With that, I thought I’d take a look at eight things going on in or around the program, and within the sport, that have contributed to the second-longest drought in the program’s history without winning a national title.
I put this lowest on the ladder that impacts this situation, but I do think it plays a role. If you don’t promote your product well, you’re going to have a hard time selling it to recruits, fans and anyone else. OSU just doesn’t do a good job of “selling” one of its best products. And there is data that backs this up. If you want fans in the seats and money in the program, you have to promote the product. And for whatever reason, OSU just doesn’t seem to “push” wrestling.
This is changing now as renovations are taking place with Oklahoma State wrestling, but for the last 20 years since they “raised the roof” on Gallagher-Iba, OSU hasn’t put much into the wrestling facilities for the Cowboys. The last time they were winning titles, they had fancy new facilities to recruit to and train in. Right now they’re in the process of remedying this with the current renovations they have in place, but prior to this move the Cowboys just didn’t have nice things. Hopefully, the recent updates will improve things a bit.
6. Oklahoma Wrestling
During almost all of OSU’s run of NCAA titles, they pulled in a lot of talent from all around the country. But they also had a lot of guys from right here in Oklahoma. In the 1980s it was guys like Kenny Monday, Kendall Cross and John Smith. In the 1990s it was Mark Branch, Pat Smith and JJ McGrew. In the early 2000s it was Johny Hendricks, Johnny Thompson and Tyrone Lewis. Chris Perry was the last Cowboy from Oklahoma to win an NCAA title in 2014, and Hendricks was the last one before that. You need local kids that are on the NCAA champion level to win NCAA titles. Oklahoma has produced some guys recently that are on that level with Daton Fix and Dustin Plott, and the Cowboys have some with that kind of potential coming in next year with Jordan Williams and Zach Blankenship. It will take those types of wrestlers to get OSU No. 35.
5. Northeast Wrestling
On the flip side of that, the part of the country that is producing large numbers of NCAA champions is the one that’s winning a lot of NCAA team titles. Oklahoma State is always going to grab a few of these guys every year, but the sheer number of wrestlers that come out of big states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, etc. give the schools back east a lot of firepower to work with. Penn State’s NCAA champions have come from all over the country in recent years, but a number came from Pennsylvania.
4. Four Points
In 2013 the Cowboys finished second losing by a razor-thin four-point margin to Penn State. Just a couple points anywhere in that tournament and the Cowboys bring home an NCAA team title. It’s been a while since this, but it’s still crazy to think how close they were that season.
3. Regional Training Centers
One of the more recent developments in wrestling has been the “Regional Training Center.” There’s a bit more to it, but these allow post-graduate wrestlers to train on or around campus as a part of the schools’ RTC. OSU just doesn’t have much of one currently. They don’t have any senior-level athletes in their RTC that aren’t student-athletes already on their roster, while Penn State hosts nearly all of the top wrestlers in the United States with its.
I don’t like to speculate on why OSU hasn’t seemed to dive in on this, but many believe it’s due to fears about what the NCAA could do with them. Most of the ways these RTCs operate don’t seem to line up with NCAA rules, and OSU has not had a good relationship with the NCAA. John Smith essentially got the head coaching job due to issues with OSU wrestling and the NCAA.
While I fully understand the reasons why OSU would not want to touch these, the school with half the Olympic team training at their RTC is the one winning all the NCAA titles.
It’s all a very unique dynamic because OSU’s most recent high-level success occurred when the Cowboys had multiple Olympians training in their room during the early 2000s.
2. The Coaching Exodus
Almost every time this topic comes up, I hear people mention Pat Smith. Pat Smith is, of course, John’s younger brother and was an assistant during the run of four straight NCAA titles in the early 2000s. Since Pat left, OSU hasn’t won a national title.
While Pat was a part of that, there is even more to consider. Mark Branch was also an assistant at that time and eventually became the head coach at Wyoming. Branch took Chris Pendleton with him, and now Pendleton is the head coach at Oregon State. You also had Coleman Scott, Jamill Kelly, and Pat Popolizio go into successful coaching careers away from Oklahoma State. Further, the other guys in the program that were part of that run like Steve Mocco, Johny Hendricks, Jake Rosholt, Daniel Cormier, etc. all went into careers in MMA.
So, OSU didn’t really just lose Pat. It lost almost everyone except John from the early 2000s staff and team to various other careers. All of that is totally understandable, but that void really hurt the Cowboys in the years following it and still resonates to this day in my opinion.
1. Cael Sanderson
What can you say? The guy is good. Since PSU hired Sanderson, he’s taken the wrestling coaching world by storm and awakened a sleeping giant of a program in Pennsylvania.
The Nittany Lions have looked vulnerable at times with Iowa and Ohio State sneaking in a few titles during his run, but outside of that he’s been difficult to stop. And with some wild midseason recruiting and a few offseason transfers, he looks poised to win another title this year.
The post Eight Reasons Oklahoma State Wrestling Hasn’t Won an NCAA Title since 2006 appeared first on Pistols Firing.