Divison I coaching, or any level of coaching, in wrestling needs to be intense. If you are doing it right you probably are spending 70-80 hours a week on building your program and so are your assistants. There is just too much to do, marketing, raising money, counseling kids, recruiting and….coaching wrestling. A quote from Tom Ryan also applies here: "No matter all the hard work you do, we compete knowing that nothing is guaranteed because of our hard work". If you work hard and still CANT produce real results you STILL need to find another profession.
The fact is that in every profession their are those that perform and those that do not. If you fail to perform or advance your program through several facets: marketing and community awareness, program sustainability, and of course results on the mat than you should probably find another profession. Coaches are the care takers of their program and if the program gets dropped or downsized it is ultimately their responsibility.
John Hartupee's Duquesne University got dropped a couple of days ago. Frankly, probably like a lot of you I didn't know where it was even located. I knew it existed by reading results but probably would have to guess to tell you if it was division 1 or not. Well I learned that it was in the heart of Pittsburg PA. I also learned that John Hartupee was a coach at Duquesne for 12 seasons not for 1 or 2 season. He got beat out by every other sport at his university when they downsized from 20 to 16 sports. He was in the heart of wrestling country. There are a lot of things going for Duquesne Wrestling just in their geography. Ultimately this failure goes all on John Hartupee's shoulders. Is there a lot of responsibility with running a program? Absolutely. Is head coaching a collegiate wrestling a very dynamic position? Absolutely. In this case John Hartupee guided his ship into an iceberg, not over a course of weeks but over a course of years. They have been heading down this course for the last 5 years, and nothing was done to avoid this proverbial iceberg.
Although its all on John Hartupee's shoulders, his alumni and the local wrestling community also should take some blame for not addressing this situation. They should have demanded more and been honest with him and the administration that he was not the right person for the job. He was not cut out for the job of head coach. Does that mean that John Hartupee is a bad person? Absolutely not. It just means he is not cut out forthis job.
Is it 3x harder to be a great coach in wrestling than most other sports? Absolutely. John Hartupee may have been a good or great coach relative to other coaches in the nation, but he did not handle the complexity of being a division 1 wrestling coach. Marketing, Fundraising and Wrestling Results all need to happen at a very intense level.
We as a community need to put more peer pressure for those that are not performing to leave to more eager coaches. Now John Hartupee's legacy goes down on the list with Chuck Kearney, the coach that was at the helm when Oregon dropped its program. Everyone knew it was ultimately his responsibility that the program got dropped. We can blame this that and the other, but the buck stops at the head coach.
Im singling out John Hartupee and I may sound cruel, but what I think is cruel is about the 20-35 kids, in the heart of PA, who wont get a chance to wrestle at the collegiate level next year. They are missing out on the best and exciting sport in the world.
I hear it over and over where ever I go…"some of these coaches are just collecting pay checks." Well shame on them. You have to earn the right to be a division 1 coach EVERY SINGLE YEAR. If you cant take this pressure and this criticism in this blog then get out of coaching, the community can find someone who will eagerly take it on.
The coaches that should be leaving ARENT worthless. They hold a lot of knowledge and connections in the community that can really help the incoming coach. They most likely are an important part of the community. They are not, however, an important part of the community as a coach, they are a liability.
Im an optimist through and through, but Im also a realist. There are plenty of schools that don't have big names outside of the wrestling community but are forces within. Mark Cody of American University may be wrestling's coach of the decade. American University is now fully funded! Also note that American University isn't in the heart of wrestling country where Duquesne existed. When he took it over it was barely even heard of with only a couple of scholarships. Was it an easy road? Hell no. Mark Cody just found a way. We need more coaches like him. And judging by the assistant coaches I see day in and day out there are plenty of people that have the potential!
One last point. I sometimes see it a lot where the head coach is no longer have the drive and visionary behind a program. The program stays afloat and sometimes even thrives because of the hard working and driven assistant. This also holds a program back. Precious resources of a wrestling program are going to pay someone who isn't producing value. I ask all division 1 coaches to take a good look at yourself and evaluate yourself for the good of the sport.