Q & A with Tom Ryan - Ohio State's 2x NCAA Coach of the Year
A few weeks ago I was able to catch up with the back to back NCAA DI Coach of the Year, Tom Ryan of the Ohio State for a little Q & A as he drove home from a recruiting trip following his teams second consecutive DI NCAA runner up finish.
During his wrestling career, Ryan was a two-time NCAA Division I All-American for Iowa (second in 1991, third in 1992) as a member of the Hawkeyesí 1991 and 1992 national and Big Ten championships teams. He also was a two-time Big Ten champion in 1991 and 1992. Prior to enrolling at Iowa, Ryan wrestled at Syracuse, where he was the 1989 Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Champion.
Ryan is a native of Wantagh, N.Y., where he attended Wantagh High School. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in education from Iowa in 1993. He and his wife, Lynette, have four children, Jordan, Jake, Teague and Mackenzie.
Coach Ryan has led a dramatic resurgence of the Buckeye wrestling program and will be hosting a camp at Fenton (Illinois) High School starting June 8th . In the recent past the Fenton camp has featured wrestling legends Tom Brands (Iowa/Olympic Gold Medalist), Randy Lewis (4x All American, 2x NCAA Champion) and Daryl Weber (NCAA Champion)
Below you can find the actual questions and will see a little insight into arguably the best wrestling coach in America the last two years.
Q. Letís start with your background coach, you wrestled where?
A. I wrestled in New York at Wantagh High and (in college) at both Syracuse and the University of Iowa.
Q. For Coach (Dan) Gable?
A. Yes for Coach Gable. I went there in 1989 to 1992.
Q. So you was just before Joe Williams and those great teams.
A. Yes, I was just before Joe Williams. Joe was an incoming freshman when I was a graduating (senior).
Q. Your accomplishments at Iowa?
A. NCAA Champion, third and second at the NCAA.
Q. What weight class were you in?
A. I was at 158 pounds.
Q. When you left there (Iowa) did you go straight into coaching or did you go International first?
A. I went into coaching at Indiana University and I wrestled for a year. I then got married and started a family and took over the head job at Hofstra University. I didnít think it was fair for me to do both (coach and wrestle) to my student athletes so I said enough is enough. The (my) competition was not about the team.
Q. What year did you take over at Hofstra?
A. I took over in 1995 and I was there until 2006, eleven years.
Q. Of course this year and last year you had banner years at Ohio State. We have all followed you. Everyone has seen that as we have all watched it from afar.
A. Thank you.
Q. I was kind of watching Ohio State because I am very familiar with Lance Palmer (3x All American- 149 pounds). My son has wrestled him several times in high school and kids level. He is very, very tough to beat, especially on top.
A. Yes he is not easy to beat. Not many people have beat him. He is very tough on top. He is hard to finish on.
Q. I noticed you have signed his brother, Colin. I think he is better than Lance personally, which is saying a lot about Colin.
A. He is a little more athletic. The Palmer family is aware that he is a bit more athletic. But Lance has a tremendous work ethic and drive.
Q. So when you took over Ohio State, speaking about Lance, he was one of the big signees that year.
A. He had just signed with the previous staff, he had committed to them. We were able as a new staff to uphold his commitment. He was a high school senior the year we came in. We were very happy that Lance with a new staff coming in decided to stay at Ohio State University.
Q. This year in particular you were in the race for the national title with your old school (Iowa) and itís kind of amazing they won the national title without a (individual) national champ. Talk to me about that last day (at the NCAA finals) and the highs and lows of that day.
A. We were obviously in a really good position. There will be yearís that we know we may have a much stronger team at the national championships. And as we know life gives some some difficult twist and turns and when you are in position to win it you better seize the moment. We didnít, we just werenít able to do that. Despite that, our team wrestled very well and I am proud of the team. I can do the math and I knew what we needed.
Q. At the national tournament it (the team race standings) is pretty easy to figure out. I know at the DII tournament we had it figured out that we (UNO) had it won after day one. We would have had to lose every match on day two and that just was not going to happen, itís not hard to do the math when you are in the middle of the race. What do you have coming back for next year and where do you fit in?
A. I think we will be right in the hunt next year again. The goal of the Ohio State wrestling program is to offer our fans the reality that every year the Ohio State Buckeyes will be in the running for a national championship. And that is all you can ask for. Yes, we won (Individual) championships and we are going to get (more) championships. The reality is every year we will have a team that is fighting for a national championship. We return the third most points at the NCAAís plus we have a host of red shirts that should step into the line up. So we should have a very good team.
Q. So the depth is there is what you are saying?
A. Yes we will be as good if not better than this past year. Now when you lose a guy like J. Jaggers, itís never easy to replace Jaggers. However, great programs move on, they just change names but the fight and effort the tradition stays the same. We just have to stay healthy and work hard every day.
Q. I know exactly what you mean. At UNO we are losing some great wrestlers, but we got some guys waiting in the wings, red shirts chomping at the bit to get in that line up.
A. Exactly, Nebraska-Omaha does a great job. One of the top programs, you just plug a guy in, that just what you do.
Q. He (UNOís Coach Denny) has two all Americans that were red shirted last year just waiting to get back in the mix.
A. When I was at Iowa thatís the way it was. When you find people that want that competition, you find recruits that understand how tough the room is going to be, that understand that is what is going to put them over the top, that is the ideal (wrestling) environment. We (Iowa) just plugged in the next guy and never missed a beat.
Q. Last month I heard Cael Sanderson say something that could of just as easily applied to Ohio State, that one of the reasons he wanted to go to Penn State was because he felt they were in the middle of a great recruiting area, that they had the best high school wrestlers in Pennsylvania. Having been with my son all over the country anytime we could get a win over a Pennsylvania kid that was big and the same can be said about Ohio. You have some kids in Ohio that can really wrestle, at all three levels, kids, high school and college, DI, DII and DIII. Talk to me about in-state recruiting and how it affects your school?
A. I think if you look at the student athletes that represented other institutions, that are home grown Ohio kids, we would be national champions. They had chosen to leave the state prior to this coaching staff coming on board. I believe with ever ounce of me that if we can close the borders of the state of Ohio and keep the best home, we will win national championships, so Cael is definitely speaking the truth and needs to close his borders in Pennsylvinia. We need to do the same in Ohio. For the most part we have been able to do that. At the same time we need to be able to hand pick an out of state kid too. There are some outstanding wrestlers in Illinois, New Jersey and New York as well as Pennsylvania.. So will still continue to recruit the nation but our mainstay will be in-state.
Q. Speaking of out of state and being that we are from Illinois, you have one of our favorite sonís Garrett Goebel playing football at Ohio State. I am sure everyone wants to know if you have had an opportunity to speak with him, has he come to the room, has he looked in the room, has he worked out in the room.
A. I know who he is and I am aware he is on campus. The same as with Dexter Larimore, #72 a starting lineman, was a high school national champion. Coach (Jim) Tressel enjoys and respects the sport of wrestling. He knows the discipline it takes to be a great high school wrestler. He recruits some of the big boys. If we need Goebel and were in dire straits, I am confident that Coach Tressel would let him wrestle. I hear he is doing really well in football.
Q. He is one heck of a football player as is Larimore. I had a chance to watch him up close at Senior Nationals and he is a special athlete. It is kind of nice to haveÖI donít want to say in the wings, but nice to have guys like Larimore and Goebel as a possible option.
A. The best news if they are not scoring points for the Buckeyes, at least they are not score points against the Buckeyes. We like when Coach Dressel grabs those type of studs for football.
Q. How did the camp at Fenton high school come about?
A. I am a good friend with Mike Mangenello (Fenton assistant Coach), we attended Iowa at the same time period and he asked me if I would come of there. Obviously, the state of Illinois has some quality wrestlers there, I have been to the state championships and we know there are a lot of quality wrestlers and I am looking forward to coming up.
Q. Can you outline the camp? If I am a wrestler what can I look forward to?
A. I am waiting for Mike to outline what he wants at the camp. When I teach I like structured drilling, repetition and some inspirational stuff as well. I hope that the kids get something out of it. I am coming up for a day and Joe Heskett (Ohio State Assistant Coach) is coming up for a day or two so there is a big Buckeye flavor to the camp. Hopefully the best kids in Illinois will be there as well. I think my clinic is a lot more than wrestling. We will talk about life lessons.
Q. So then the camp will be a lot more than wrestling?
A. Yes. Hopefully it will impact the core of the people that are there more than just wrestling. We will touch on a lot of leadership things and making good choices.
Q. When is your regular Ohio State Wrestling Camps?
A. Our camps run from June 22nd to July 19th. I think it is a very good system of learning. We have camps that suit the needs of the individual wrestlers. We have a team competition camp, technique camp and an intensive camp. We have the kind of camps that cater to what a coach has in mind for his student athletes.
Camp Link: http://www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com/Vie...03&SPSID=89334
Q. When this is all said and done with the camps is this something that will be a yearly thing.
A. Sure, absolutely, If it is something that the coaches up there (at Fenton) want we will be back. I think I have one of the best coaching staffs in the country so we are always looking to grow the outreach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Illinois is a state we need to get into. There is a lot of talent in the state of Illinois
Q. One thing I have noticed is a lot of college coaches want an Illinois kid on their roster. And not just the Blue Chip type wrestler, there are plenty of late bloomers that can develop on the college level.
A. Mike Poeta was one of the great college wrestlers I have seen. He did not win a championship but he was a champion. We look forward to coming to Illinois to get some Illinois wrestlers like Poeta in the Ohio State wrestling program.
Last edited by admin; 05-28-2009 at 06:59 AM.