After the Penn State wrestling team garnered its third straight national title on Saturday night, I saw a few tweets saying that Cael Sanderson is the best coaching hire in the recent history of college athletics. The argument is certainly compelling considering that Sanderson built a team that hadn't won a national title since 1954 into the most dominating team in the country in one year's time. Depending on how far back you consider "recent history", you would also have to add Nick Saban at Alabama and...ugh...John Calipari at Kentucky (except for this year!) to that list as they have also had loads of success in relatively short times with their programs.
But we aren't going to focus nationally for today's question. Instead, we are going to look internally at who the best coach at Penn State might be. Now, we have a lot of sports, so forgive me for not listing every one of them. I know fencing has a long run of success in Happy Valley, but I couldn't tell you who their coach was along with 99.8% of the BSD community. So, without further adieu:
Cael Sanderson, wrestling: In four years on the job, he has coached his team to three team national championships and led wrestlers to six individual NCAA titles and even more All-American finishes. He led Penn State to its first title in over 50 years and hasn't let go of that reign for the past three years. It's to be expected after his 159-0, four national title run as a collegiate grappler himself.
Russ Rose, women's volleyball: Coach Rose has become an icon in the coaching community, winning 1,096 matches in his storied career to go along with five national championships, including four in a row during my tenure at Penn State (2007-2010). He's coached countless All-Americans and National Players of the Year like Christina Harmotto, Megan Hodge and Blair Brown. He is so respected that he was placed on the committee that hired Bill O'Brien last January. Hopefully, one day his signature blue sweater will hang from the rafters in Rec Hall.
Erica Walsh, women's soccer: Walsh came to Penn State from Florida State and continued the Lady Lions' winning ways, leading them to Big Ten titles 10 through 15 in her six years in State College. This past year, she led the team to the NCAA title game before falling to North Carolina. She is also a coach for the U.S. Women's Soccer team.
Coquese Washington, women's basketball: Washington is also in her sixth season at Penn State and in the middle of another NCAA Tournament run, her third with the Lady Lions. Her teams have won the last two regular season Big Ten titles. All of her accomplishments have also earned her a spot coaching the women's national team.
Bill O'Brien, football: One 8-4 season in the light of all he was facing is remarkable, but we'll need more data points before putting him up with Cael and Russ.
Beth Alford-Sullivan, cross-country and track and field: While not on par with some of the schools in the south (ESS EEE SEE SPEEEEEEEED), she has built a consistently good-to-great program at Penn State in both the men's and women's ranks.
Bob Warming, men's soccer: Warming led teams to College Cups at Creighton and Saint Louis. In his three years at Penn State, he has a 32-22-8 record and has been to the NCAA Tournament once.
And one day, Pat Chambers will get on this list. But we aren't going to have this thread devolve into a #FiurChambres debacle.
So, for today's MMQB question, who is your choice for best coach at Penn State as of this moment?
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