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With Ersland, half the head mat coaches in the Big Ten once wrestled for Gable

Dan Gable as University of Iowa head wrestling coach, with future Wisconsin coach Barry Davis in sweater vest
Dan Gable as University of Iowa head wrestling coach, with future Wisconsin coach Barry Davis in sweater vest
Photo courtesy of National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum, used with permission

With the hiring of Tony Ersland as head wrestling coach at Purdue Friday, exactly half of the coaches at the helm of Big Ten mat programs once wrestled for the legendary Dan Gable at University of Iowa.

Among the former Gable wrestlers who now head up a Big Ten wrestling program in addition to Purdue’s Ersland: Tom Brands at Iowa, Barry Davis at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Duane Goldman at Indiana University, Jim Heffernan at University of Illinois, and Tom Ryan at Ohio State.

That leaves an equal number of Big Ten head wrestling coaches who didn’t wrestle for Gable: Joe McFarland at University of Michigan (a former Wolverine matman), Nebraska’s Mark Manning (a two-time Division II champ at University of Nebraska-Omaha), Michigan State’s Tom Minkel (a Central Michigan alum), Northwestern’s Drew Pariano (wrestled for the Wildcats), J Robinson of University of Minnesota (Oklahoma State, class of 1969), and Penn State’s Cael Sanderson (four-time NCAA champ at Iowa State, 1999-2002).

The six current Big Ten wrestling coaches had impressive mat careers for coach Gable while at Iowa City. Purdue’s Ersland, the newest head coach in the twelve-school Big Ten, was a four-year letterwinner at Iowa under Gable from 1994-1997, and 1997 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships qualifier. Brands, who has been at the helm of the Hawkeyes for eight seasons, was a three-time NCAA champ for Gable (1990-92). Davis, at Wisconsin for two decades, won three NCAA titles at Iowa (1982-83, 1985), while Goldman, who has headed up the Hoosier mat program for 22 seasons, was a four-time Big Ten champ and 1986 NCAA champ at 190 pounds. Heffernan, head coach at Illinois for five seasons, was a four-time NCAA All-American and 1986 NCAA champ at 150 pounds.Ryan, who took the helm at Ohio State in 2006, was a two-time Big Ten champ and NCAA All-American for Gable in 1991-92.

The balance of an equal number of Big Ten mat coaches who were Gable wrestlers vs. non-Gable wrestlers will shift when University of Maryland and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, both enter the conference for the 2014-15 season. The head coaches of those two programs are not products of the Gable-coached Hawkeyes. Maryland’s Kerry McCoy was a two-time NCAA heavyweight champ (1994, 1997) and 1997 Dan Hodge Trophy winner at Penn State, while Rutgers’ Scott Goodale wrestled at Lock Haven in Pennsylvania.