I say what I say because I don't believe Tom would be in the position today without Russ doing what Russ did.
No disrespect to any wrestlers who wore a Buckeye singlet but for the first sixty plus years in the history of the program, wrestling was not a priority for the school. Those who achieved good for them, those who competed good for them. The school did not ask for or demand greatness or results on the mat or in the classroom. Ohio State chose to make wrestling a priority when they hired a former Michigan wrestler and head coach as their Athletic Director, Rick Bay. He wanted winners, academics, and class. He made a number of hires for underperforming varsity sports and started the groundwork for the billion dollar construction boom in the athletic department over the next twenty years.
Bay was a visionary for Ohio State. Andy Geiger gets the lion's share of the praise for the success, growth, and evolution of the Athletic department, but in my opinion Rick was the start to budgeting, planning, and hiring. As a man of principle, when the board wanted to fire Earle Bruce, Bay resigned because he didn't agree. When it came to wrestling Russ was Rick's man and his hire forever changed the direction of the Ohio State wrestling program, just as his vision changed the direction of the athletic department. As Bay laid the groundwork for Geiger, Hellickson gave Ryan the foundation to build upon
While Russ never won a Big Ten or ncaa title he had seven of the eight of the best finishes at the NCAA Tournament that Ohio State had in 85 years. He had more All-Americans then every coach not named Ryan had combined. He was responsible for getting the team out of Larkins and into Steelwood and seeing their budget double every five years. He also backed Ohio International to the Buckeye Wrestling Club which Ryan turned into the Ohio RTC in his third year in response to USA wrestling.
Among the many coaches and wrestlers that came to Ohio State because of Russ, there are seven guys who gave Tom Ryan instant credibility in coaching and wrestling for the Buckeyes and across Ohio; Tommy Rowlands, Blake Kaplan, JD Bergman, J Jaggers, Reece Humphrey (and Jim), and Lance Palmer. Tommy was on staff for the first 3-4 years while taking TBWC to RTC while making a couple world teams. Blake did a lot behind the scenes with the alumni and the RTC. Ironically J would have been at Wisconsin if not for Russ, he won Tom's first national title, and he has stayed on to be a key assistant. JD was in the room for a decade as a three-time All American and a World Team members as was Reece. Jim coached for Russ and Tom and was a resource for every wrestler in the room as long as a Hump was in Cbus. Lance never wrestled for Russ but after Rowlands and Jaggers classes, he was the next recruit and a key to opening the door for Eds to Ohio State and really any recruit in Ohio.
Do I think if Russ had another ten years he would accomplish all that Tom has built or accomplished? No, he gave all he had to give and it was time for the next guy to come in.
Do I think Tom would have Ohio State where they are today without Russ? No, because I think it would have taken him more time to build what they have now when you look at the big picture and have an understanding of the changes that took place before Hellickson was hired and while he was there.
Thank you for this education . Truly . Although I’m in my late 40’s now and really just started following college wrestling 5 years ago as a former HS wrestler( thanks to BTN ) , I appreciate the level of knowledge I’ve read for years on this board . Lots of sharp guys on here . Good stuff .