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Coach_J

Under the radar...

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The job Ryan Ludwig has done at Northern Illinois.  They place 3rd in the 15-team MAC behind Missouri and Central Michigan (they actually beat CMU in the MAC dual) with Ludwig being named co-MAC Coach of the Year.  Three NQs, a soph and two frosh, with Brit Wilson taking the MAC title.  More programs like this, please.

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6 minutes ago, southend said:

I think Indiana University swiped one of their NCAA scorers from last year also. Hudkins.

True, but he was injured basically all year.  The guys the B1G have swiped haven't panned out in their new homes (Eicher, Hudkins, Bleise).  Sometimes best to finish what you started with the people who invested in you from the beginning.

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2 hours ago, southend said:

I know Hudkins got injured, and could have even if he stayed, but the matter of the fact I’m saying is that he would of added to the mounting prominence Of Northern 

Agree.

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Unpopular opinion to follow.

As an alum, I'm not as excited about NIU's program as others may be. This is Ludwig's ninth season as head coach. NIU's finishes at the MAC tournament in his time leading the program have gone as follows: 5, 5, 8, 7, 6, 5, 8, 6, 3, finishing in third place this year more than 30 points behind second place CMU. (the conference also expanded from eight to 15 teams starting this season) The Huskies finishes at Nationals in Ludwig's tenure have gone as follows: 64, 41, 53, 67, 50, 30, 48, and 56, with this year to be determined. Their schedule is weak, which included duals against NJCAA and D2 programs.

I feel as though Ludwig and company are being lauded for results that are slightly less mediocre than they have been in the past. I know many NIU alumni who are still sour that the athletics administration didn't open up the position after Dave Grant stepped down, instead choosing a direct hand-off to Ludwig. By not opening the position or courting coaching candidates, it was a huge missed opportunity for that program, in a massively rich wrestling state and region, to start knocking on the door of being a potential top 20 to top 25 program on a regular basis.

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4 minutes ago, Tofurky said:

Unpopular opinion to follow.

As an alum, I'm not as excited about NIU's program as others may be. This is Ludwig's ninth season as head coach. NIU's finishes at the MAC tournament in his time leading the program have gone as follows: 5, 5, 8, 7, 6, 5, 8, 6, 3, finishing in third place this year more than 30 points behind second place CMU. (the conference also expanded from eight to 15 teams starting this season) The Huskies finishes at Nationals in Ludwig's tenure have gone as follows: 64, 41, 53, 67, 50, 30, 48, and 56, with this year to be determined. Their schedule is weak, which included duals against NJCAA and D2 programs.

I feel as though Ludwig and company are being lauded for results that are slightly less mediocre than they have been in the past. I know many NIU alumni who are still sour that the athletics administration didn't open up the position after Dave Grant stepped down, instead choosing a direct hand-off to Ludwig. By not opening the position or courting coaching candidates, it was a huge missed opportunity for that program, in a massively rich wrestling state and region, to start knocking on the door of being a potential top 20 to top 25 program on a regular basis.

I respect your insight and have no personal ties to the program. But I totally agree with what you are saying about selecting a new coach. AD’s with no knowledge of a particular sport wil default to an assistant to save face. And you know the situation more than us posters.  So what are you doing to rectify this ? 

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Not exactly a destination coaching spot.  Understand your feelings but still think he's done a solid job at an off the radar school that isn't steeped in tradition.  Have been concerned that his round of 12 underclassman have left but, as noted, they've done no better in supposedly greener pastures.  

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Coach J, as someone who lived there, you're correct in that NIU/DeKalb not being a destination. However, that didn't deter Rob Koll at Cornell, Mark Scwab at UNI, Tony Ersland at Purdue, Mark Branch at Wyoming, Cary Kolat at Campbell, Chris Ayers at Princeton, among quite a few others, who took programs with no real recent history of sustained success in areas (except Princeton; Cedar Falls is slightly smaller than DeKalb, population-wise) and turned them into perennial top 25 mainstays. DeKalb is roughly an hour directly west from where I am sitting right now in Oak Park, and I am 15 minutes off of Lake Michigan with zero traffic (so we're talking 3:30 a.m.). DeKalb isn't the middle of nowhere. It's now being considered a far suburb of the third largest city in the United States; one that was vying for the Summer Olympic Games only a decade ago. This isn't a university in rural Mississippi. It has a ton going for it, except leadership.

As to the success of the guys who leave, there are too many reasons to know why they didn't pan out, but it could be that NIU was the right size for their abilities, as has been eluded.

Edited by Tofurky

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I see your point and have been to Dekalb to compete, but I don't think it's exactly fair to compare NIU with some of the schools you mention--it's doesn't have the academic prestige of a Cornell (which had been a national wrestling power in the past with a great alum base, as had Northern Iowa in the Iowa Teachers College days) or the cache of the B1G like Purdue.  I too really like what Kolat has done with a perennial doormat but he's damn Cary Kolat! He just landed one of our local kids and I'm pushing others to give Campbell a look--chance to be at an elite academic school and learn from an absolute genius.  Branch hit the jackpot with Meredith transferring and almost by himself he put Wyoming into the top 25 several years in a row.  And Princeton, very impressive.  Ludwig has brought some no-names to the round of 12 several times and numerous guys, non-blue chips, winning two or three bouts and I guess my hope is that he can punch one through to build momentum. He's run a clean program.  Just trying to see a positive in a program that gets little press and fully understand not everyone will agree with my take.

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1 hour ago, Coach_J said:

Not exactly a destination coaching spot.  Understand your feelings but still think he's done a solid job at an off the radar school that isn't steeped in tradition.  Have been concerned that his round of 12 underclassman have left but, as noted, they've done no better in supposedly greener pastures.  

Maybe NIU doesn't get the next Sanderson to finish his career in Dekalb but it could certainly be the stepping stone for coaches on the upswing.  Like in football often MAC schools groom coaches (or prove one to be not ready) for big time college football NIU could become the wrestling coaching incubator in the midwest.  Many a strong young coach would like the opportunity to lead his own program rather than be a long-term assistant under someone else.

Several very prominent high schoolers from Michigan went to NIU earlier this decade but they did not seem to develop much there.  I think "untapped potential" is maybe a better characterization of NIU wrestling than "under the radar".  

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I can see your view.  Bleise and Eicher were very close to AA and lost in the blood round--left for Minnesota and Michigan State and did no better (in Eicher's case, worse).  Jury is out on Hudkins--lost in the blood round an NIU and has been injured at Purdue and done nothing.  Maybe he can pull it together next year, and Escobedo is a great mentor for any lightweight.

Ludwig is a Michigan guy, former state champ, and he's giving a lot of Michigan kids opportunities; this is his first HC job so not like he's been a bunch of places and failed.  "Very prominent" I don't think is the same as "Blue-Chip."  Scores of "very prominent" Michigan kids go to UM, MSU, and Central and are never heard from again.  To my knowledge Ludwig wasn't getting any 4-time Michigan champs who had won or placed top 3 at Fargo; good kids, very solid, but not anyone UM, MSU, or Central were making big offers to.

I'm not aware of any former NIU coach who left to a bigger program, so we'll agree to disagree.  I'm hoping the guy can get an AA and build for the program's future.

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1 hour ago, Coach_J said:

I see your point and have been to Dekalb to compete, but I don't think it's exactly fair to compare NIU with some of the schools you mention--it's doesn't have the academic prestige of a Cornell (which had been a national wrestling power in the past with a great alum base, as had Northern Iowa in the Iowa Teachers College days) or the cache of the B1G like Purdue.  I too really like what Kolat has done with a perennial doormat but he's damn Cary Kolat! He just landed one of our local kids and I'm pushing others to give Campbell a look--chance to be at an elite academic school and learn from an absolute genius.  Branch hit the jackpot with Meredith transferring and almost by himself he put Wyoming into the top 25 several years in a row.  And Princeton, very impressive.  Ludwig has brought some no-names to the round of 12 several times and numerous guys, non-blue chips, winning two or three bouts and I guess my hope is that he can punch one through to build momentum. He's run a clean program.  Just trying to see a positive in a program that gets little press and fully understand not everyone will agree with my take.

To your point about Cornell and UNI (I said Mark Scwab, when obviously I meant Doug), that is why I said "recent". Like you, I'm aware of that past success, but it was long ago in both cases.

About Cornell and Princeton, they certainly do have the Ivy side of the university with unquestioned academic prestige. It's only been within the last 25 years that we've seen the Ivies, Stanfords, Northwesterns, really thrive. That is why I would think a place such as NIU would be able to attract a coach who would be able to leverage to multiple top 100 recruits each year, most of whom are not admissible to those top end academic institutions of higher learning, the ability to not only be admitted to and compete for a Division I university and program, but earn great, competitive degrees in many different fields such as education, business, journalism, computer science, engineering, etc.

I can't argue with NIU not having the prestige of being an Ivy or being in the B10/B12, but that hasn't stopped places like Edinboro, Central Michigan, NC State, and another 10 or so programs from not being those very things. Hofstra in the Tom Ryan days would be another good example to add to the list of, "Yeah, it can be done and it can be done here!"

As to Kolat, he's a force, but coaching success hasn't been a guarantee for him at every step of his coaching career. He was named in a few program head coach opportunities before Campbell, if I remember correctly.

One other aspect that I've talked about for many years is NIU's inability to produce homegrown talent. They haven't had an All-American from Illinois since 1975, let alone an All-American in the program since 2004, when Scott Owen (New Mexico, fifth) and Ben Heizer (Texas. Runner-up) made the stand and finals, respectively.

Here is my last statement and question: if none of his guys make the stand this year, that will make all nine seasons with Ludwig as head coach (15 total with the program) with zero All-Americans in his time there. When is it okay to say that the same old same old is not okay anymore and it's time for change?

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