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OSU Wrestling: Top 5 Quotes from David Taylor’s Introductory News Conference

‘My journey as a coach is just starting.’

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[Courtesy of OSU Athletics]

Cowboy Wrestling was introduced to a new era Friday morning.

Oklahoma State hosted an introductory news conference for David Taylor, who was announced as the eighth wrestling coach in OSU’s storied history late Monday night. Voice of the Cowboys Larry Reece introduced Taylor before Taylor followed athletic director Chad Weiberg to speak and answer questions from the media in front of a full team meeting room inside Boone Pickens Stadium.

Here are five quotes that stood out from Taylor’s first news conference as a head coach.

1. ‘David Taylor Is Your Favorite Wrestler’s Favorite Wrestler’

Larry Reece had the responsibility of starting Friday’s news conference, a task that included introducing both Weiberg and Taylor. But he first reminded that only 25 days before, that same room hosted John Smith’s retirement news conference.

Smith retired after leading Cowboy Wrestling for 33 years, winning five NCAA championships during that span. But before his coaching career began at 26, Smith was a six-time world champion, including a pair of Olympic gold medals. As Taylor, 33, replaces Smith, he just finished up a wrestling career that featured four world championships, including a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

“It’s good to be us, you know it,” Reece said. “David Taylor is your favorite wrestler’s favorite wrestler. He’s who the next generation of wrestlers try to emulate. If John Smith is the all-time face of American wrestling, then David Taylor is the modern-day torchbearer.”

2. ‘Genuine Passion’

The first thing Taylor did when stepped up to the mic was acknowledge how many people were crammed into the meeting room for a news conference, even on a Friday morning after being rescheduled less than 24 hours before.

“Wow,” Taylor said. “I think right away just looking in here there’s more people here than there is the World Championships. That just speaks volumes to what this program means to everybody.”

Taylor continually brought up throughout the news conference OSU’s passion for wrestling and the support that the sport receives from administration and the university. Wrestlers, even when coming from a dynasty like Penn State and representing his country in the sport, know how rare that is, at every level.

“When we met with the administration, with Chad and Reid [Sigmon] and [Paycom CEO] Chad Richison, obviously a huge supporter as Chad talked about, it was just the genuine passion,” Taylor said. “That was a word that I just kept coming back to. I was talking and they were like, ‘What was it like?’ Just genuine passion. How many athletic departments love wrestling like these guys love wrestling? Not many, if any. And you need that. We need that to be successful. And that’s something that’s special. They’re going to pour into this program, and they’re going to give us resources to be successful.”

Taylor said when Weiberg called to ask if he was interested in the position, Taylor told him he was “interested in the right situation with the right resources and a program that can win.”

“I think a lot of times you think of wrestling as an afterthought at a university,” Taylor said. “And I think most places it is. And here that is not the case. It’s engrained. I believed [Weiberg] actually the words he said was, ‘the heartbeat of this university.'”

3. ‘One of the Opportunities’

How fitting is it that when the process of Taylor becoming a Cowboy began he was working in his barn in Pennsylvania?

Taylor said he owns three highland cattle, plus a couple of goats, pigs and 10 chickens. He’s trying to figure out how to get all those animals to Stillwater and his youngest children are already asking for horses once they’re moved (there’s actually already a house for sale that might fit that lifestyle). Taylor even documents life on his small farm with his family on his YouTube page.

But as he tended to those animals a few weeks ago, he missed a call from an Oklahoma number. It was Weiberg with an offer.

“I was like, ‘I need to answer this call. I need to call him back,'” Taylor said. “And Oklahoma State’s one of those things where it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, your life goes on pause and you’re gonna think about this opportunity because it is one of the opportunities.”

4. ‘You Want to Wrestle at Oklahoma State.’

Taylor was about to start his college career when the coach he committed to left and went elsewhere. He ultimately followed Cael Sanderson from Iowa State to Penn State, where Taylor helped Sanderson start a dynasty. But now in the same shoes as the incoming coach he left, Taylor is hoping his top talent stays as he tries to build OSU to compete with the dynasty he helped jumpstart.

Taylor has already brought in two new assistants. Former associate head coach Coleman Scott confirmed his departure Friday with a statement on social media that included, “I will surely miss being a cowboy.” Daton Fix, who just finished up his OSU career, might be the only familiar face that is still around by next season. Taylor said he hopes to keep Fix around the program, however he didn’t detail in what capacity. Assistant coach Tyler Caldwell is also still training wrestlers alongside Fix during this transition.

Taylor met with his new team for the first time Thursday.

“It’s a tough situation, very tough situation,” Taylor said. “And I felt like I could relate to it. … I feel like I can understand a little bit of what these guys have been going through. I can’t 100%. It’s a tough situation.

“What I realized yesterday was that it looked like family. These kids look like they really care about each other, which is awesome. And we’re gonna continue to build on that and moving forward. We want people to come to Oklahoma State because they want to come to Oklahoma State. You want to wrestle at Oklahoma State. You want to win national championships at Oklahoma State. We want team championships at Oklahoma State. We want to stay and win Olympic gold medals at Oklahoma State. And I think that’s what makes this place special.”

5. ‘My Journey as a Coach Is Just Starting’

Taylor’s original summer plans were to represent the United States for the second time at the 2024 Paris Olympics. But an upset to Aaron Brooks in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials finals only last month was ultimately the curtain call on Taylor’s career as a competitor.

As Smith talked about retiring from coaching 25 days before in the same room, he said he was complete. He was at peace with his career and walking away. Taylor’s coaching journey really hasn’t even started yet, but this new beginning did mean an ending, as well.

“I’m at peace with it because I did everything I wanted to do in my career — everything and more,” Taylor said. “And so many people helped me do that. I’m not at peace with losing. I hate to lose, but at some point, what are you still chasing?…

“I just realized that as my career came to an end that I wanted to pour into the next generation of kids. I believe this is the way I can do that to the best of my ability. I believe I can make a massive impact directly on the people I’m working with but also on the sport of wrestling. Hopefully we can leave wrestling in a better place. My journey as a competitor is done, but my journey as a coach is just starting.”

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