Archive for June, 2009

New Cyclone Gilstrap ready to live up to the hype

June 30, 2009

WEST DES MOINES – Considering some of the maneuvers Marquis Gilstrap pulled off with legs at less than full strength, Iowa State basketball fans are in for a serious high-wire act this season.

Gilstrap showed off his leaping ability Sunday during at the YMCA Capital City League. Rebounds, blocked shots, tip dunks… the Cyclone newcomer was above the rim on several occasions.

“That’s off of two legs,” Gilstrap said. “Off of one I can’t do it that well.”

Umm, really? The signee from Gulf Coast (Fla.) Community College still is strengthening the muscles in his left leg. An injury to his patellar tendon forced Gilstrap to miss two full years of basketball before a monster return last season at GCCC.

He has athleticism and leaping ability no one on ISU’s roster can match.

“I love playing with him,” said guard Dominique Buckley, a summer league teammate of Gilstrap’s. “You throw the ball up anywhere and he’ll get it.”

Gilstrap averaged 22.6 points and 10.1 rebounds, and was rated at the No. 2 junior college player in the nation by ESPN.com.

He has only season to play, but could be awarded another if ISU petitions the NCAA for a medical hardship.

Cyclone fans have massive expectations for the 6-6, 210-pound forward, believing he may be the missing piece to a return to prominence in the Big 12 Conference.

“I take it as a challenge. I think my game is good enough that I can handle it,” Gilstrap said.

He’s proven he can hit from 3-point range – 52 of 127 for 40.9 percent at GCCC – and he’s becoming more comfortable in the weight room thanks to ISU’s strength coach Andy Moser.

“I’m pretty much used to it,” said Gilstrap, who will wear the No. 3 at ISU. “I haven’t lifted much in the past.”

Presently, he’s impressing his new teammates with his array of skills.

“He’s a great player,” said junior guard Diante Garrett. “He’s strong. His game is more mature than most of us. I think he’s going to be ready.”

Coach Greg McDermott sees great potential in his prized recruit.

“Now he’s got to overcome this next level of adjustment,” he said. “There’s a big difference between where he played last year and what he’s going to be asked to do… The work ethic and passion is there. It’s a matter of putting it all together.”

Same goes for the team.

The Cyclones have a potential all-America forward, experienced guards, talented newcomers and quality depth. ISU’s postseason drought is at four years and counting.

Most everybody expects that to end.

“We’ve got a real good team,” Gilstrap said. “We are going to be really good I think.”

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Doookies! Cyclones add to already tough pre-Big 12 slate

June 24, 2009

AMES — Iowa State’s non-conference schedule was going to be tough enough. Add Duke, as the Cyclones have now done, and it’s downright nasty.

— Neutral site games against Duke, two of these three — Saint Louis, Notre Dame or Northwestern. Pairings have not been set.

— Road trips to California, Iowa and Drake.

— Home dates with Houston, Bradley, Northern Iowa and probably North Dakota State.

Keep in mind, Coach Greg McDermott isn’t expecting the sub-.500 teams he’s fielded the last three years. McDermott is thinking postseason, and he’s got the pre-conference schedule to get his team there.

“If you feel you have a team that can handle it, I think that’s the way you have to go,” he said.

The Duke game – set for Jan. 6, 2010, at the United Center in Chicago — came together quickly. Duke wanted a game against a Big 12 team, and ISU was happy to oblige, all things considered.              

It will be the Cyclones’ last game prior to the start of league play.

“As we researched our schedule and what we had in place…it looked like something that at this point in the development of our program would be good for us,” McDermott said.

National exposure? Check. The game will go to a national ESPN audience.

Recruiting exposure? Check. It will be the team’s second trip into Chicago following November games at the Sears Centre just outside Chicago in suburban Hoffman Estates.

With second-year assistant coach Daniyal Robinson digging into the Chicago area for players, playing in front of them is a very good thing. Don’t forget freshman guard Chris Colvin, a Robinson recruit, won an Illinois state title in March for Whitney Young High School.

“It can do nothing but help recruiting,” McDermott said.

An increased profile? Check. Iowa State hasn’t been a national name since March of 2005, when the Cyclones reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. This year’s team could make the program relevant again outside the state and Big 12 circles.

Forward Craig Brackins is sure to be a Wooden Award candidate and probably a preseason All-American. He’s a star and ISU should promote him accordingly.

Add some buzz to the season? Check. Especially for those who like road trips or alums that live around Chicago, which there apparently are many. Close to 10,000, in fact.

Iowa State and Duke have never played one another.

“The Cyclone alumni base in Chicago is our second largest and we expect a big turnout,” Athletic Director Jamie Pollard said.

Can Iowa State beat the Blue Devils, one of college basketball’s elite programs of the last 30 years?

Duke went 30-7 a season ago, won the ACC tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16. They lose star player Gerald Henderson, who Thursday will became a first-round NBA Draft pick, but still return a lot.

They add a pair of blue-chippers in big men Ryan Kelly (6-10) and Mason Plumlee (6-11), who figure to be in the rotation by the time Duke and Iowa State square off.    

“They’ve got very good players,” McDermott said.

Win or lose, Iowa State is coming out ahead. 

The better question is, will Dick (or as some like to tag him, Duke) Vitale finally call an ISU game?

Rhoads’ coaches at ISU are paid better than Chizik’s

June 22, 2009

AMES – Iowa State’s assistant football coaches will earn a higher combined salary than their predecessors under former head coach Gene Chizik, according to documents obtained by The Gazette.

The Cyclones’ nine first-year assistants have signed contracts paying them $1.385 million.

Chizik’s staff was to be paid just under $1.35 million during its final year. The coach left for Auburn last December and was replaced by Paul Rhoads.

All of Chizik’s coaches also are no longer with the program.

Rhoads’ top assistants, coordinators Wally Burnham (defense) and Tom Herman (offense), predictably are the highest paid of ISU’s new coaches.

Burnham, who comes to ISU after nine seasons as South Florida’s defensive coordinator, has a two-year contract worth $275,000 annually, a $55,000-a-year raise from what he made at USF.

It also is more than the $257,500 paid to Chizik’s defensive coordinator, Wayne Bolt.

Burnham’s South Florida teams finished in the top 30 in total defense six of the past seven years. He coached previously at South Carolina and Florida State, winning a national championship with the Seminoles in 1993.

“This is my last job,” Burnham, 67, said during a February interview. “I told Paul I’m going to coach as long as I can coach and my health holds up and the kids still respond. I’m expecting to be here a long time and win a lot of games.”

Herman negotiated a three-year contract through the 2011 season, worth $250,000 a year.

Robert McFarland, ISU’s offensive coordinator the previous two seasons, was paid $283,250.

Herman comes from Rice, where the Owls’ wide-open offense set all kinds of records during Herman’s stay. The 33-year-old has never worked professionally outside the state of Texas.

He was a graduate assistant at Texas in 1999 and 2000 under Mack Brown and knows the Big 12 Conference well.

“We might have to do things different than Texas or Oklahoma, but nonetheless I think there’s ample opportunity to succeed here,” Herman said shortly after taking the job.

ISU’s other seven coaches are working under one-year deals. Each makes at least $100,000.

Assistant head coach Bill Bleil and Secondary coach Chris Ash are the highest-paid position coaches at $150,000 a year.

Strength and conditioning coach Yancy McKnight has a two-year contract worth $140,000 per year. That is a bump in pay from Chizik’s strength coach Ken Sheppard, who was paid $113,300. 

Rhoads has a five-year contract worth $5.75 million, an average of $1.15 million per year. He will make $950,000 his first season.

 

Paul Rhoads’ coaching staff, 2009-10 salary

Wally Burnham, Def. Coordinator/Linebackers, $275,000

Tom Herman, Off. Coordinator/Quarterbacks, $250,000

Bill Bleil, Offensive line/Asst. head coach, $150,000

Chris Ash, Secondary/Recruiting coordinator, $150,000

Courtney Messingham, Tight ends, $120,000

Kenith Pope, Running backs, $120,000

Curtis Bray, Defensive line, $120,000

Shane Burnham, Defensive tackles, $100,000

Luke Wells, Receivers, $100,000

*Yancy McKnight, Strength and Conditioning , $140,000

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Gene Chizik’s coaching staff, 2008-09 salary

Robert McFarland, Off. Coordinator, $283,250

Wayne Bolt, Def. coordinator, $257,500

Tony Petersen, Quarterbacks, $159,650

Jay Boulware, Running backs /Special teams, $133,900

Scott Fountain, Tight ends/Recruiting coordinator, $113,300

Mike Pelton, Defensive line, $113,300

Shawn Raney, Secondary $113,300

Jay Rodgers, Receivers, $92,700

Jeff Koonz, Secondary, $82,400

*Ken Sheppard, Strength & Conditioning, $113,300

 

*NOTE: Strength and Conditioning coaches are not included among the nine full-time assistant coaches allowed under NCAA rules. Their salaries are not included in the combined total used in this story.

Rhoads’ contract a done deal

June 17, 2009

AMES – Seven months after becoming Iowa State’s head football coach, Paul Rhoads has made his appointment official.

Rhoads put his signature to a five-year contract that pays him $5.75 million (an average of $1.15 million a year) over the life of the deal, according to a copy of Rhoads’ deal obtained Wednesday. He’ll make $950,000 his first season with a $100,000 increase each following year.

The coach had been working off a handshake agreement until this week.

Rhoads and Athletics Director Jamie Pollard each signed the contract Monday. ISU President Gregory Geoffroy followed on Tuesday.

Rhoads’ salary pales in comparison to his Big 12 Conference peers, half of whom earn upwards of $2 million in compensation annually. The league average for head coaches in 2009 is $1.8 million.

Only Colorado’s Dan Hawkins – at a reported $935,000 – earns less than Rhoads.

The first-time head coach has a base salary of $250,000 with additional guaranteed income amounting to $700,000.

Incentives could drive Rhoads’ total higher if he produces a winner.

Rhoads will receive $100,000 for every regular-season victory beyond No. 7 and would get that same amount if the Cyclones reach the Big 12 Championship game, win the Big 12 championship or are ranked in the top 10 of the final USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll.

He would earn $50,000 if ISU is ranked between No. 11 and 25 in the coaches’ poll.

An appearance in the Gator, Cotton, Holiday or Alamo bowls earns Rhoads $50,000, while playing in the Sun, Insight, Independence, Texas or another lower tier bowl would mean a $25,000 payment.

Rhoads also gets $25,000 for winning a bowl game or being named Big 12 or national coach of the year.

Other items of note:

— Rhoads will be provided a vehicle and membership to the Ames Golf & Country Club

— Rhoads and athletic officials will discuss an extension of the contract no later than 360 days before its ending date of Dec. 31, 2013.

— ISU will owe Rhoads $500,000 for each remaining year on his contract if he is fired without just cause. That shall not include “coaching decisions” consistent with his peers “win-loss record or public unhappiness with the win-loss record” or “other general displeasure at the direction or success of the football program.” Payment would be in a lump sum.

— Rhoads would have to pay ISU that same amount per year, up to a maximum of $2.5 million, if he accepts another head coaching job in college or the NFL.

ISU athletics on the Up and Up

June 17, 2009

The offseason is the season for optimism.

No one has hit a ball into the net, thrown an interception, shot an air ball or been taken down. Records are unblemished. Hope is sold by coaches, players and administrators to every open ear.

If you are Iowa State, you’ve got to really like what lies ahead.

Potential for success is there for every major sport, which at ISU now includes volleyball coming off consecutive trips to the Sweet 16.

Athletic Director Jamie Pollard just had his contract extended through 2014, which is a good thing if you ask me.  Pollard has raised ISU’s profile with his fund-raising prowess and commitment to improving facilities, keeping pace with the rest of the Big 12 with the upgrades to Jack Trice Stadium and a new basketball practice facility set to open in a few months.

His most public hires (Gene Chizik, Greg McDermott) have been disappointing to many at this point in time, but appear to have a bright future.

Former Cyclone assistant and Ankeny native Paul Rhoads was the pick to replace the departed Chizik, also a good thing in my humble opinion. Rhoads is everything Chizik was not.

The Cyclones could win as many games this season as “Mean Gene” during his 5-19, tw0-year stint with the team.

The women’s basketball team came within one win of a Final Four. This year’s team will be young, but there’s no reason to think it won’t benefit from that experience over time. Volleyball is rolling and in-demand coach Christy Johnson has pledged her love for everything cardinal and gold and isn’t going anywhere.

Cael Sanderson’s departure was a PR nightmare, but had more to do with Sanderson feeling more professionally challenged at Penn State, where he could build up a middle-of-the-pack program, have a fabulous recruiting base, earn a higher paycheck, create memories somewhere other than Ames and wear blue for a change. He’s worn red for a long, long time.

Pollard tabbed another former Cyclone, Kevin Jackson, as his replacement. Jackson is as motivated and connected within wrestling circles as there is. He talks a great game, now we’ll have to see if he can coach one next season and beyond, once Sanderson’s recruits are gone.

It’s year four and McDermott finally can say he’s got a team that has a realistic chance of going places.

Craig Brackins, Lucca Staiger and Charles Boozer decided on staying, while newcomers Marquis Gilstrap, Chris Colvin and LaRon Dendy help form the coach’s most athletic recruiting class yet. Brackins wants to play in an NCAA Tournament before he jumps to the NBA, which almost surely will be next summer.

Returning players are up and down the roster. McDermott is not used to continuity. He’ll get used to it.

It’s been four long years since the Cyclones have played past mid-March. This is a team that has no reason not to reach the postseason, even if it is an NIT.

Things are looking up for Iowa State athletic teams.

The coaching changes look to be done with, now it’s time to do work between the lines.

Seventy-eight days until the football season kicks off.

Barnes (allegedly) leaning towards…

June 15, 2009
Wanted man: Harrison Barnes

Wanted man: Harrison Barnes

St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Charley Walters has a blurb in his Sunday column reporting that Ames guard/forward Harrison Barnes is leaning towards playing at Kansas.

Should we believe it? At this point in time, anyone reporting Barnes leaning toward one school over the others is speculating. Barnes may ultimately pick the Jayhawks — a shock to absolutely no one — but he and his mother are holding their cards close to the vest during this process.

My guess: Walters was chatting up a Gopher insider or coach, who is under the impression Barnes has locked in on KU. It’s a column. Attribution is optional. He ran with it.

It may turn out being true, but don’t freak out just yet Iowa State basketball fans.

I still think you have a shot at landing the kid. Of course, I too am speculating. But I’ve got a feeling Barnes isn’t just giving his hometown school a token look when he has his choice of any school in the nation.

Barnes is recruiting service Scout.com’s No. 1 overall player. Rivals.com has the 6-6 wing at No. 2, with KU, ISU, North Carolina, Duke, UCLA, Minnesota, Stanford and Florida still under consideration. 

Don’t throw in the towel yet Cyclone Nation. Signing day isn’t until November.

Cyclone freshmen ready to build on Elite Eight run

June 13, 2009

AMES – The buzz with Iowa State’s memorable run through the NCAA women’s basketball tournament stretched all the way to Colorado, where Anna Prins was screaming just as loudly and gnawing her fingernails just as vigorously.

The Cyclones marched on to the Elite Eight, and Prins, a November signee, was watching every minute, wishing she was a part of this March Madness.

“It made my heart race a few times,” Prins said.

The freshman center from Broomfield, Colo., one of the top post recruits nationally, has dreams of taking the Cyclones to even greater heights over the next four years.

“It would be awesome to make a Final Four, or even better,” Prins said. “We just have to work really, really hard and focus on our goal. “

An accomplishment that grand depends largely on Prins and the rest of ISU’s freshman class. Coach Bill Fennelly’s rotation will be heavy on youth. Prins, who stands 6-foot-6, likely will be in the center of it all.

Seniors Nicky Wieben, Heather Ezell, Amanda Nisleit, Jocelyn Anderson and Toccara Ross are gone. Would-be sophomores Ashley Arlen, Alexis Yackley and Claire Rockall also left the program.

Four freshmen and junior college transfer Chassidy Cole are going to have to help fill the void.

“It pushes us to work harder in the offseason to earn our spot and play to our potential,” said freshman forward Chelsea Poppens. “We know (Fennelly) expects a lot of us now that there are not as many returning sophomores. He expects us to step up.”

Last year’s team finished 27-9 overall and 11-5 in the Big 12 Conference.

They tied the school record for victories and finished 17th in the final Associated Press poll. It was the Cyclones’ second Elite Eight in the 10 NCAA tournament appearances over Fennelly’s 13 seasons.

The bar already was set awfully high. It’s even higher now.

“You want to keep that bar high,” Poppens said. “It’s good pressure.”

Prins welcomes the expectations, feeling the team will be able to live up to them.

“It’s not so much pressure,” she said. “The way I look at it, it’s a challenge.  I’m really excited about the other girls coming in with me and the rest of the team.”

Prins led her Broomfield H.S. team to three straight state championships and was a two-time first-team all-state pick.

Poppens, a 6-2 forward, played volleyball, basketball and ran track for tornado-ravaged Aplington-Parkersburg. She says rebounding and playing around the basket are her strong suits.

“I’m more of a post player. I’m not too much of shooter,” Poppens said.

Six-foot-one forward Amanda Zimmerman, a former teammate of ISU guard Alison Lacey at Ballard H.S. in Huxley, and 5-11 guard/forward Jessica Schroll from Midland, Mich., make up one of Fennelly’s most ballyhooed recruiting classes.

Add in Cole, a do-it-all kind of guard from Howard College in Big Spring, Texas, and it is an impressive class. Cole will be a sophomore.

“As we get more experienced the future will be exciting to see how it turns out,” Prins said. “But let’s get through this summer first.”

Prins has good basketball blood lines.

Her father, Adell, was a 7-footer at Colorado State. Prins admits she may not be completely prepared right now, but is confident she will.

“Sometimes when I think about it it’s hard to imagine myself out there in a college game,” Prins said. “The pace is quicker, it’s so much faster and more physical. I think I’ll be able to adapt pretty well… Sometimes it takes just being thrown out there and get that exposure to really learn how it is.”

The four incoming freshmen have been in Ames over the past week helping with ISU’s youth basketball camps.

Prins said last season’s success will help motivate the new and returning players. They want to experience a high like that again.

“I think it’s a really good momentum-builder going into this year,” she said. “I totally trust the coaching staff that they’ll get us where we need to be.”

ISU’s Koll goes for 2nd straight NCAA title

June 10, 2009

AMES – Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Lisa Koll is ready for a repeat performance of last year’s NCAA Outdoor championships. That’s bad news for the rest of the 10,000-meter field, whom Koll ran circles around last June at Drake Stadium, easily winning the event and lapping all but five competitors.

The Iowa State star will try to defend her title Thursday night in Fayetteville, Ark. The race is scheduled for 8:55 p.m.

“I feel just as good as I did last year, if not better,” Koll said. “And I’m less tired. I haven’t raced as much so I feel like I can put a lot more effort into the race.”

Injury forced Koll out of all but one race during the indoor season.

She went to California for a race the weekend of Drake Relays and last month won her third Big 12 Conference 10K title and also won the 5K. That’s been it.

Koll says she’s over the injury problems, which developed in her sciatic nerve and caused pain in her legs, hip and lower back.

The Fort Dodge native again comes into the race with the top qualifying time. Koll is the favorite to repeat, though maybe not as big a favorite as last season, when she finished in a time of 32 minutes, 44.95 seconds.

“It was kind of expected for me to go in and win it,” she said. “I feel that pressure again. I’m confident, but there are a lot of girls out there who are really good and have been training just as hard as I have. It should be fun.”

The injuries are only part of Koll’s story this year.

She breezed through undergraduate work and is in her first year of veterinary school, which has added a new element to her training and the time she’s able to devote it.

Koll ran out to an early lead in last year’s event. She can do that again if she wants to, said ISU coach Corey Ihmels.

“She’s going to be the one who’ll dictate the race,” Ihmels said. “We’ll see how the first couple of laps unfold and if nobody wants to get out and run, then we’ll run.”

Koll will be joined by teammate Grace Kemmey, who took 10th in the 10K last year.

ISU senior Kiel Uhl will run the men’s 10K. Uhl, who prepped at Des Moines Roosevelt, was the last runner to qualify.

“If there’s one guy in the field who wants to prove he belongs, it’s him,” Ihmels said.

Hillary Bor has a good chance to improve on his fourth-place finish from a year ago in his 3,000-meter steeplechase. 

Junior Jenna Caffrey has made the 100-meter hurdles field for the second time.

Two Cyclones – Betsy Saina in the 5K and Luke Pinkleman in the shot put – are making their NCAA debuts this week.

Koll has another year of track left. A big race Thursday night could set the stage for something pretty special a year from now.

“I’m expecting to run well and run my race,” Koll said. “Whoever wants to come, is going to come and it’s going to be a fight to the finish.”

A plethora of Cyclone-related news

June 10, 2009

A news-filled day of stuff with ISU ties. Let’s recap, shall we:

— Former men’s basketball coach Tim Floyd resigns at USC, saying he did not have “full enthusiasm” for the job anymore. Apparently the $1,000 he allegedly gave O.J. Mayo and the thousands that Mayo’s handlers claim was funnelled to them during the star’s recruitment to Los Angeles had nothing to do with it. Riiiiiight.

USC was going to take a step back next year with three of its players entering the NBA Draft and a handful of recruits opting out of their letters of intent. That, combined with the Mayo mess, and Floyd was facing some hard times ahead. Looks to me like he was abandoning ship before it capsized. Floyd is 55. Will he coach again? Will a school WANT him to coach again?

— Former wrestling coach Cael Sanderson landed his top recruit after all. Ex-Cyclone recruit David Taylor decided to follow Cael to Penn State after all. Taylor, a four-time Ohio state champion and probably the nation’s best lower weighted recruit, considered his options once Sanderson left ISU for Happy Valley.

Taylor checked out Ohio State, which has a rising program with former ISU national champion Joe Heskett on the coaching staff. He quickly asked for a release from new Cyclone coach Kevin Jackson, making it clear Ames was only on his radar because of Cael.

— OK, this one is a bit contrived by ESPN’s Tim Griffin, who is counting down the Top 25 plays in Big 12 football history. Iowa Staters know this simply as “The Run”

Other items of interest this week:

— Seven Cyclone athletes — including defending 10,000-meter champion Lisa Koll — are at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. Look here for a blog Wednesday on Koll, who despite missing a huge chunk of the running season because of injury is the favorite to repeat.

— The women’s basketball team continues hosting campers this week. I’ll be checking that out, and chatting with incoming freshmen Anna Prins and Chelsea Poppens. What did they think of the team’s incredible Elite Eight run? How much will they play as freshmen? Is Prins the defacto starter at center?

— Picked up the preseason football mags yet at the grocery store or Borders? Few think very highly of the Clones. I wrote the previews for two of them — Athlon and Lindy’s. I don’t think it mattered who penned them… the editors were picking ISU dead last. I hope Paul Rhoads and his coaches and players prove otherwise.

Sanderson loving Penn State while laying low in Ames

June 3, 2009

AMES – Cael Sanderson is not done in Iowa just yet.

The former Iowa State wrestling coach has been in and out of Ames since shocking the wrestling world back in April with his decision to go to Penn State.

Sanderson faced a great deal of criticism from Cyclone fans and, to some, will long be an unpopular figure in the state because of his career choice. Vulgar and even threatening emails and letters were written.

One fan, Sanderson said, went as far as to come to his house, ring the doorbell and throw ISU clothing into the house and his wife, Kelly, and 2-year-old son Tate. They now don’t come to the front door when it is someone the family doesn’t know.

To avoid any kind of confrontation, the Sandersons keep a pretty low profile. Cael has shied away from making many public appearances and will continue to do so until ISU summer wrestling camps are over in late July.

“The only problem is that I like to eat (out) a lot,” he said. “I’m not in Ames a great deal. I just do what I have to do. I don’t go out.”

The backlash has died down considerably since Sanderson accepted the new job.

Time has healed those wounds, even more so after Kevin Jackson was hired to take over ISU’s program. Still, the negative reaction has been bothersome to Sanderson and his family, though not a surprise.

“That’s expected. Kelly knew that when we were making the decision,” he said. “I expected people to be upset. I understand. It was emotional for me at first. People care about wrestling and that’s why Iowa State has been so good since the beginning.

“The problem initially was things that were said and rumors about why I was leaving. They just weren’t true.”

Attending last weekend’s World Team Trials in Council Bluffs, Sanderson donned a blue Penn State cap.

Despite living in a hotel room when he’s in State College, Sanderson has enjoyed this busy time organizing the program, securing recruits and getting his current group of wrestlers to buy into what he’s selling.

“Change is exciting,” he said. “It’s been overwhelming a little bit with some of those things. I like the area a lot… It’s going well. People know what’s going on there. They love wrestling.”

It’s hard to say how good a team he’ll field this first year.

The Nittany Lions have a handful of All-Americans returning and will add Cyler Sanderson, who was released from his scholarship at ISU and is planning a transfer to Penn State.                                 

No team members have asked to transfer, Sanderson said. PSU finished 17th at March’s NCAA Championships.

“There’s a lot of potential there,” Sanderson said. “But just like anything, you have to get in there and work hard. They’ve got to feel comfortable with me. I don’t want anyone there who doesn’t want to be there, but those kids all love Penn State.”

Former ISU teammate Joe Heskett will be competing against Sanderson for Big Ten Conference supremacy.

Heskett, who was one of the leading candidates to succeed Sanderson, is an assistant coach at Ohio State. Heskett said he was surprised, but not shocked with his good friend’s decision to leave Ames.

“I think it is good for the sport of wrestling,” Heskett said. “I love the competition. The more the merrier. Having him in the Big Ten is great.” 

How about getting Iowa State on the schedule for a dual meet? In Ames?

“I’m not opposed to it,” Sanderson said. “I don’t have anything to prove or wouldn’t be trying to come in there and do anything.”