Courtesy of University of Michigan Athletics
ARBOR, MI — Head coach Joe McFarland announced that he is retiring after 19 seasons at the helm of the University of Michigan wrestling program. McFarland made his announcement Saturday night following the conclusion of Michigan's involvement at the 2018 NCAA Championships in his hometown of Cleveland.
"My wife and I had been thinking about the right time for me to step away, and what better place to end my career than in the city where I grew up," McFarland said. "It has been such a wonderful opportunity for me to be a student-athlete at Michigan and then return to coach at my alma mater. It's been a great journey, and I look forward to the next chapter as a Wolverine fan and supporter.
"I'm proud of the achievements we've had over the years, but I'm even prouder of all the young men who earned their Michigan degrees and went on to great success in their adult lives. I have been privileged to work with some outstanding student-athletes, fellow coaches, and athletic directors throughout my career, and I can't thank them enough for making my experience so rewarding."
Since taking over the reins in 1999, McFarland has helped mold Michigan into a highly touted national contender, guiding the U-M wrestling squad to three Big Ten dual-meet championships (2004, 2005, 2006) and 11 top 10 finishes at the NCAA Championships (2001-08, 2016-18)—including an NCAA runner-up performance in 2005 and a fourth-place finish this weekend. He ranks third on Michigan's head coaching career wins list (214) behind legendary head coach Cliff Keen (274, 1926-42, 1946-70) and his own collegiate coach, Dale Bahr (221, 1979-99).
Michigan claimed a team trophy with its fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships this weekend—its best finish in 13 seasons—and boasted five NCAA All-Americans with a pair of finalists. The Wolverines also earned their best Big Ten Championships finish in nine seasons with a third-place showing and a pair of individual champions, and UM went 11-3 in dual meets to finish fourth in the final NWCA national rankings.
"Joe is one of the most respected wrestling coaches in this country, and I am thankful for his passion for and tireless dedication to our students," Michigan Director of Athletics Warde Manuel said. "Joe has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to Michigan, first as a student-athlete, then as an assistant and head coach. Throughout his career, Joe has developed championship-caliber wrestlers as well as leaders within our community. We are thankful for his contributions and wish him well in retirement."
McFarland led 31 different student-athletes to five NCAA individual titles, 60 All-America citations, and 19 Big Ten individual crowns. Among McFarland's most decorated pupils were two-time NCAA champion and four-time Big Ten champion Kellen Russell (2008-09, 2011-12), two-time NCAA champion and four-time All-American Ryan Bertin (2002-05), NCAA champion and three-time All-American Steve Luke (2006-09), four-time All-American Eric Tannenbaum (2005-08), and three-time All-Americans Otto Olson (1997, 1999-2002), Andy Hrovat (1999-2002), Ryan Churella (2003-06), Greg Wagner (2003-06), Josh Churella (2005-08), Tyrel Todd (2006-09), and Adam Coon (2014-18).
Prior to his coaching career at UM, McFarland was the head coach at Indiana University from 1990-92. He produced one of the most impressive first-year improvements in Big Ten history when he guided the Hoosiers to a perfect 14-0 dual meet record in 1989-90, the program's first undefeated season since 1946. He was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1990.