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Column: Minkel still wrestling team’s man for the job

April 8, 2013
	<p>Zach Smith</p>

Zach Smith

Photo by Justin Wan | The State News

There are two schools of thought when it comes to wrestling.

The old-school guys have been around the block a few times and focus on defense and preventing big points at big times.

The new-school kind of coach is more flashy and modern, following in the footsteps of Iowa State wrestling legend Dan Gable.

MSU wrestling coach Tom Minkel definitely is an old school kind of coach.

People have told me, “It’s time for a change,” and, “The team has been in the bottom of the Big Ten and national wrestling for more than a decade,” as well as calling to MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis to do something about the state of the program.

But let’s look at the facts.

The Big Ten is the SEC of wrestling with Minnesota, Penn State and Iowa routinely ranking at the top of the nation, while Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State and Michigan aren’t far behind.

To compete in the Big Ten, you need the best of the best, and you need to have the most high-tech and modern facilities.

Penn State, Michigan and Iowa all have their own state-of-the-art wrestling facilities to attract high-ranked recruits. MSU does not.

The Spartans finished this season 0-8 in the Big Ten and 4-14 overall, with four wrestlers making it to the NCAA Championships and none becoming All-Americans.

Since 2004, MSU hasn’t finished higher than seventh in the Big Ten, and only has had three wrestlers earn All-American honors.

Their 11-straight losses against Minkel’s alma mater, Central Michigan, and a 51st-place finish at the NCAA Championships were the low points of another disappointing

Still, Minkel coached two NCAA Champions, in 1995 and 2009, and has a resume comparable to anyone in the country.

He was a member of the 1980 Olympic team and was the only wrestler in CMU history to finish his career undefeated in dual meets.

And the program has had many Academic All-Big Ten student-athletes, including seven this season.

With more than 20 years of coaching at MSU behind him, Minkel can’t coach forever and has a good, young staff behind him.

Roger Chandler has been with Minkel at MSU since 1997, one year after he won the Big Ten at 142 pounds and finished second at the NCAA Championships. He was promoted to associate head coach in 2011.

Chandler said earlier in the season the head coaching position at MSU is a possibility down the road.

He is the new-school kind of coach that will move the Spartans forward in the ever-changing environment of Big Ten wrestling.

Now is not the time to call for the head of a coach that has produced 36 All-Americans, 13 Big Ten Champions and a pair of national champions.

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Patience is a virtue, and when it comes to wrestling, nothing can be more powerful.

_Zach Smith is the wrestling beat writer for The State News. He can be reached at


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