Gazette sports journalist KJ Pilcher broke the news today that Cael Sanderson is leaving Iowa State for richer fields at Penn State.
The question now is why.
Why would Sanderson ditch is alma mater for Penn State, a school that has some rich wrestling tradition but runs nowhere near Ames’ historic past?
It would be simple to say it’s all about the benjamins. I’ve heard $500,000 a year for 5 years. That’s $2.5 million. That’s just a rumor, by the way.
That’s a lot of change, a lot of security for a young and growing family.
I don’t know Sanderson as well as many, but what I do know is he’s not about money. This, I would guess, is not about only money.
My thinking is Sanderson is tired of playing second fiddle in this state. Tom Brands and the Iowa Hawkeyes have won two straight NCAA titles and have owned the Cyclones in recent duals.
Sanderson is an outstanding recruiter, but he’ll never own Iowa like he can own Pennsylvania. That’s big state with a lot of outstanding wrestlers. He can build a contender with wrestlers only from that state.
My guess is Sanderson wants to be the man in a state. The best he can hope for in Iowa is to share that title with Brands and company in Iowa City.
Sanderson wants to win a national title and, apparently, thinks that will come easier at PSU than ISU. He may be right.
I read many comments on various posts today and the common thought, even among ISU boosters, is the Cyclone athletics department is in trouble financially. Not cutting sports trouble yet, but strained like many, many others.
Maybe Sanderson didn’t think he was getting the needed support in Ames. The crowds were always good, but not great. The administration, from the outside at least, seems to support the sport, but maybe something was happening internally we don’t know about.
Don’t rip into Sanderson for bailing on his alma mater, instead relish the job he did in three seasons and wish him the best in Happy Valley.
Sanderson wants to win. It’s that simple.