At the NCAA wrestling tournament this year it was announced that the University of Arkansas Little Rock would be starting the first Division 1 wrestling program in the state of Arkansas. On Wednesday, they announced former Cowboy Neil Erisman would be taking the reigns of the upstart program.
It's an extremely exciting day for our program as we're thrilled to introduce Neil Erisman as our first head wrestling coach. Ecstatic to welcome coach Erisman and his family to #LittleRocksTeam !
— Little Rock Wrestling (@LittleRockWRES) June 20, 2018
Four-time NCAA champ and former Cowboy Pat Smith runs the Arkansas wrestling academy and is the guy often credited with the development of the sport in the state. When they announced they’d be starting a new program the general consensus was that it would likely be someone with OSU ties. Between the Smith connection and the regional recruiting ties Erisman has being from Kansas, wrestling at OSU, and living and coaching in Stillwater for a bit, the hire is no major shock.
The former Cowboy worked as a graduate assistant for Oklahoma State for a few years then moved on to North Carolina with Coleman Scott and has been an assistant there the past four years.
Usually the biggest factor in starting a new program like this is energy. Obviously you need to be able to coach and need recruiting connections and a strong personality, but it’s a lot of work to build up a brand new program, so being young, a little green and fiery is huge and they got that here.
Incredible thing is this expands John Smith’s head coaching tree even more. I did a short write up on it when I first started here, but now there will be 77 NCAA wrestling programs and 8 will be coached by former Cowboys, all of which have direct ties to John as a coach or wrestler. Over ten percent of all D1 coaches! That’s not including head coaches that just worked under him which expands that even more.
— Zack Esposito (@zack_espo) March 14, 2018