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ISU Names Kevin Jackson Head Coach

May 11th, 2009 by Tom

The Iowa State athletic director introduced Kevin Jackson as the new Cyclone wrestling coach. Jackson, the current Sunkist youth development program head coach, replaces Cael Sanderson, who left for Penn State April 17th.

Jackson, a former gold medalist and two-time World Champion, captained the 1987 ISU national championship team.

"We are very excited to welcome Kevin back to the Cyclone family," Pollard said.

Before joining the Sunkist program, Jackson spent eight years as the USA wrestling national freestyle coach and took two teams to the Olympics. Jackson coached Sanderson on the freestyle team, where the former ISU coach won a 2004 gold medal. Jackson also coached Henry Cejudo, who won a gold medal in 2008.

Jackson's freestyle team won the 2001 World Cup. In 2003, USA placed second and finished third in 2006. And before meeting with the media, Jackson already started announcing his plans to keep the Cyclones, who have finished fifth or better in the last three NCAA Championships, in the national elite.

"There is no ceiling to what we can accomplish on and off the mat at Iowa State and I couldn't be more excited to get started," Jackson said. "I'm pleased to inherit such an outstanding team and we'll begin immediately to focus on hard work and technique with the goal of competing for the NCAA title."

Jackson also served as the freestyle resident coach at the Olympic Training Center and head coach for the U.S. Army team from 1998-2001. He won two Pan American Games titles and was a member of United States World Championship teams in 1993 and 1995. He also won U.S. National titles and was the first American to take home the Takhit Cup in Tehran, Iran in 1998.

"His competitive intensity, combined with his technical skills as a coach, will make an immediate impact on our wrestling program," Pollard said. "For the last decade, Kevin has coached and trained the best United States wrestlers. He has excelled at the highest levels of international wrestling as both an athlete and coach."

As a collegiate wrestler, Jackson was a three-time All-American at Louisiana State. When the school dropped the sport, Jackson transferred to ISU, where he was a national runner-up and went 30-3-1 in 1987. Jackson also served as an assistant for the Cyclone wrestling club from 1987-92 and as a volunteer assistant coach at Arizona State in 1997.

Kevin Jackson: I’m Best Candidate for ISU Job

April 26th, 2009 by Tom

Former Iowa State gold medalist Kevin Jackson hopes his connection to the program and his experience coaching the 2008 U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestling team make him a contender to become the next coach of the Cyclones.

Jackson, a captain and all-American on Iowa State's last NCAA championship team in 1987, said he has made his interest known to Iowa State officials.

"With my experience, my knowledge and my years in wrestling coaching training, standing next to Terry and Tom (Brands) and also being trained by Dan Gable and being around Bobby Douglas, "Jackson said, "there is no better candidate for the job than I am."

Tom Brands is the current coach at rival Iowa, while Terry Brands helped Jackson coach the U.S. team last August at the Beijing Olympics.

Bobby Douglas coached Iowa State before the program was taken over by Cael Sanderson, the popular coach who recently resigned to accept the top job at Penn State.

Jackson said after trying to contact Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard about the Cyclones' opening, he was told by senior associate athletic director David Harris to submit his material.

Arizona State also is seeking a head coach - and Jackson said he has applied for that position.

"If I'm their No. 1 choice (at Iowa State), I'll stay in the mix, "Jackson said. "If I'm not their No. 1 choice, I have Arizona State that I also have applied for."

Jackson said he hopes to talk with Pollard as early as today in an effort to determine if he fits into the Iowa State picture.

"The rivalry between Iowa and Iowa State is what intrigues me the most because I am a Cyclone, "he said.

Jackson, who won freestyle world championships in 1991 and 1995 in addition to his Olympic gold in 1992, has never been a head coach at the college level.

He served as national freestyle coach for USA Wrestling between 2001 and 2008. He is currently head coach for the Arizona-based Sunkist Kids club program.

"I would beat my head against a wall if a Hawkeye got that job, one, and two, if the right man did not get that job because I know what it's going to take to compete against Iowa, to beat Iowa, also to contend for a national championship, "Jackson said.

"You have a team right now at Iowa State that's capable of not only beating (Iowa) in a dual, but they're capable of dominating that dual meet and they're capable of winning the national championship. It's going to take an above-average coach to withstand what Iowa's bringing to the table."

Meanwhile, Boise State coach Greg Randall is happy staying put - but said he could be lured away.

Randall, a four-time state champion for Mount Vernon, on Thursday said the Iowa State opening is intriguing.

"It would bring a new challenge, that's for sure, and a lot of pressure, "said Randall, who is 74-26 in seven seasons with the Broncos. "I don't mind pressure because that's when I work the best. I know it would be totally different from this job."

Randall, a three-time all-American at Iowa, said one detail needs to be worked out.

"I haven't even been contacted (by Iowa State), "Randall said. "Maybe I won't, maybe I will. We'll see.

"I'm not looking to go anywhere right now, but if the right job came to me and my family was happy with it, we'd probably do it."

One known candidate for the job is Tennessee-Chattanooga coach Chris Bono, a former NCAA champion and assistant coach at Iowa State.

Ohio State assistant Joe Heskett, an NCAA champion and four-time finalist for the Cyclones, has declined comment when asked whether he has interest in the position or has been contacted by Cyclone officials.