Cael Sanderson is a Champion and it's probably the best hire Penn State has made in 45, maybe 32, maybe 28 years.
Coach Paterno took over the head football coach job in 1966. By 1968 he was coaching an undefeated team. No National Championship until 1982, but he did follow up the '68 season with undefeated seasons in 1969 and 1973. Which is pretty remarkable.
Coach Russ Rose has been a stalwart asset to Penn State athletics. His contribution to women's volleyball, as a Penn State and national collegiate sport is unprecedented and unchallenged. But Coach Rose had to wait 20 long years before he coached an NCAA championship team - the years since then have been good, of course.
And Penn State has (has had) other powerhouse programs, such as fencing (Emmanuil G. Kaidanov has coached the fencing team since 1983), men's gymnastics, women's lacrosse and men's volleyball. These teams too have racked up championship titles over the years.
But Sanderson's command on the sport of wrestling is difficult to compare. At age 30 he took on the job of head coach at Penn State. And in his 2nd season his team won both the Big Ten and NCAA titles, and he did it with a team loaded with underclassmen. The Penn State wrestling program has battled and struggled over the years to compete in the Big Ten and on the National stage - the hiring of Sanderson, and his team's outstanding tournament results have propelled Penn State into the upper strata of wrestling. Everyone is going to want to wrestle at Penn State.
Interestingly, the B1G title was more hotly contested than the national title. Coach Sanderson, as part of a deal he made with his team (a la "The Rookie" - if they won the conference championship, he'd compete), participated in a "senior" regional freestyle event last weekend. True to his modus operandi, he won all three bouts by technical fall without surrendering one point in the process (?!?!?).
It's old news, but worth repeating: Sanderson was undefeated in collegiate wrestling, winning 4 NCAA titles; a feat that Sports Illustrated lists as the 2nd greatest (behind only Jesse Owens) accomplishment in college sports, ever. He also owns an Olympic gold medal. He's the best and now he's a Penn Stater and that's a great thing.
Suffice to say, when Charlie Sheen looks up "winning" in the dictionary, he sees a picture of Cael Sanderson.
Penn State has some of the best coaches in college sports - past, present and (hopefully) future. They've invested a lot of time and faith in their most decorated coaches - and now they've invested some money in the wrestling program, with an amazing return.
Cael Sanderson is the best. Russ Rose is the best. Joe Paterno is the best (or, at least the winningest). Penn State Athletics needs to show the same commitment to excellence when filling all of their coaching positions.