Feb. 17, 2010
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Editor’s Note: The following article first appeared in the Feb. 15 edition of the Official Sports Report (OSR) for the University of Iowa. OSR is a daily e-newsletter exclusively about the Iowa Hawkeyes. Click HERE to learn more.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — After 21 seasons in the head coach’s chair at Northwestern, former University of Iowa wrestling All-American Tim Cysewski isn’t stepping down, he’s switching seats.
Beginning in 2010-11, Cysewski will become associate head coach for the Wildcats and his former national-qualifier and current assistant, Drew Pariano, will become head coach. Wrestling fans in the state of Iowa remember Pariano — he took a floundering program at Cornell College in Mount Vernon and turned it into a Division III power.
“There won’t be much difference in what we do or the changes we make,” said Cysewski, moments before Northwestern and Iowa tussled on the mat Feb. 12 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “We’ll try to definitely pattern what Dan (Gable) did with Tom Brands coming in. That worked and I enjoyed seeing that. I think that will work well for us at Northwestern, also.”
Gable was named assistant coach for the UI when Brands was hired in 2006. A year later, Gable returned to his duties as special assistant to the director of athletics at the UI, but he remains engaged in the operations of the Iowa wrestling program. In 21 seasons as head coach of the Hawkeyes, Gable won 21 conference titles and 15 NCAA championships.
Cysewski grew up in Glenview, Ill., and attended Glenbrook South High School. He came to the UI in the fall of 1972 — the same time the Hawkeyes signed a 23-year old assistant coach named Gable. The Hawkeyes were second in the Big Ten and tied for seventh in the nation when Cysewski was a freshman. In 1974, Iowa won the Big Ten championship and placed fifth at NCAAs. When Cysewski was a junior and senior, the Hawkeyes won league and national championships.
“It was kind of new at the time,” Cysewski said. “Back then, Iowa wasn’t known as a power per se. Winning our first national championship and then defending it our senior year; Big Ten championships…winning it, defending it and defending it again. We were kind of starting that momentum that you see right now and Iowa has been dominant ever since.”
The Hawkeyes were 51-7-5 in duals with Cysewski on the roster, going 31-1-1 from 1974-76. Cysewski became an All-American in 1976, placing third at 134 pounds. His career record was 99-23-4 and he won five Midlands titles.
“This is a special place. To me, this is where I grew up in wrestling. You always heard about Iowa, then to actually get to wrestle in front of that crowd and then coming back and coaching against them. It was a good place to wrestle; the fans really appreciate good wrestling and when you get an opportunity to beat Iowa — as an individual or as a team — that’s something you want to remember for your entire life.”
Northwestern head coach
Cysewski was an assistant coach at Northwestern from 1981-90 and became head coach there in 1989. During his tenure, the Wildcats have had 88 national qualifiers, 27 All-Americans, 12 Big Ten champions and four individual NCAA champions. Northwestern placed fourth in the nation in 1990 and 2007. It is currently the only wrestling program with a national champion the last three seasons.
“In my day, (former head coach) Ken Kraft had some really good Northwestern teams,” Gable said. “Tim kept that good wrestling going at Northwestern. He brought some individuals and some teams to a higher level than they had ever been before. He really did a good job.”
Northwestern has also compiled five consecutive top 15 finishes at the NCAA championship. With some of their better competitors using redshirt seasons, the Wildcats (5-11-1 overall) are currently in a rebuilding phase. The No. 1 ranked Hawkeyes put a 49-0 thumping on Northwestern three days ago, but Cysewski has been on the winning end of the rivalry as well. On Jan. 25, 2005, the Wildcats upset Iowa, 22-19.
There are currently six former Iowa wrestlers serving as head coaches in the Big Ten: Cysewski, Brands, Tom Ryan (Ohio State), Barry Davis (Wisconsin), Jim Heffernan (Illinois) and Duane Goldman (Indiana). Cysewski’s replacement is a Northwestern graduate.
“My goal would be to have all 11 (Big Ten head coaches) from Iowa,” Gable said. “At the same time, that’s just kind of wishful thinking. Other programs put out good coaches, too.”
In high school, Cysewski said he had friends on the Hawkeye team, his high school coach, Bill Fuller, was from Eddyville, Iowa, and his club coach, Terry McCann, was a national champion for the Hawkeyes in 1955 and ’56.
“I had a lot of Iowa people around me,” Cysewski said. “It felt very natural to come here and wrestle.”
Before the dual Friday, Cysewski was summoned to center mat where he his accomplishments were acknowledged and he was given a standing ovation by the 7,125 fans in attendance.
“This is a special place,” Cysewski said. “To me, this is where I grew up in wrestling. You always heard about Iowa, then to actually get to wrestle in front of that crowd and then coming back and coaching against them. It was a good place to wrestle; the fans really appreciate good wrestling and when you get an opportunity to beat Iowa — as an individual or as a team — that’s something you want to remember for your entire life.”
Cysweski earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the UI in 1977. His original plans did not include coaching wrestling.
“I didn’t come out to be a head coach for one year and all of a sudden, I’m a lifer,” Cysweksi said. “I’ve been in wrestling my whole life and I enjoy it.”