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OSU Wrestling: A Look at John Smith’s Coaching Tree



Last week, the Cowboys traveled to Wyoming and John Smith took on one of his former wrestlers and assistants, Wyoming head coach Mark Branch. This was the second time Smith has coached against one of his former wrestlers this year after he opened the season with Coleman Scott and North Carolina. He’ll do it again in their next dual when they take on NC State and Pat Popolizio in Italy on January 5th.

As impressive as his resume is as a coach, an often overlooked contribution to the sport on Smith’s part is what he’s done to groom other coaches.

At the Division-I level in wrestling there are currently seven head coaches that either wrestled at OSU or coached under Smith and that’s not including Smith himself.

Currently you have Coleman Scott at UNC, Pat Popolizio-NC State, Mark Branch-Wyoming, Teague Moore-American, Glen Lanham-Duke, and Kevin Ward-West Point, and now former OU head coach and Smith assistant Mark Cody will be the coach of the new Presbyterian program.

If you include Smith there are eight D-I wrestling coaches that have ties to him. There are only 76 Division-I wrestling programs. That’s 10.5 percent of all D-I coaches!

To put that in perspective there are around 351 D-I basketball programs and 250 D-I football programs (including FCS). To match Smith’s percentages, because of the small number of wrestling programs, a great basketball coach would need to produce 4.6 coaches for every one of Smith’s, a great football coach would need to produce 3.2. Looking at current numbers (seven for Smith) they’d need to have 32.2 for basketball and 22.4 for football.

In the most recent info I could find on Mike Krzyzewski and Nick Saban , Kryzewski had eight current D-I coaches that had at one point been under him and Nick Saban had 10. The numbers are hardly comparable when you consider the numer of programs available to them. Another 12 Saban assistants would need to take head jobs and another 24 Krzyzewski assistants/players for them to truly match Smith’s numbers.

Smith also has an incredible number of former wrestlers that are now assistants at various D-I schools and head coaches at RTC’s.

Assistant’s that we’re tracking that he coached (and we may be missing a few) include: Zack Esposito-Oklahoma State, Chris Perry-Oklahoma State, Ethan Kyle-Wyoming, Chris Chionuma-West Point, Austin Marsden-Buffalo, Chris Pendleton- Arizona State, Jordan Oliver Arizona State, Obe Blanc-NC State, Neil Erisman-North Carolina, Jamil Kelly-Stanford, Tyler Caldwell-Oklahoma State.

There are also a number of head coaches with Smith ties at regional training centers: Eric Guerrero-Oklahoma RTC, Kendall Cross-NYC RTC, Kenny Monday-Tar heel Wrestling Club, Derek Fix-Cowboy RTC

Add to that the number of academy coaches: Hardell Moore, Pat Smith, and others along with a few high school coaches out there his tree is really impressive.


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