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Mark Cody Was Better Off at American

2007 National Champion Josh Glenn at 197 (American)

2007 National Champion Josh Glenn at 197 (American)

Sure this is a crazy opinion, but I am going to justify it because....well....it is my actual opinion. When Mark Cody left for Oklahoma from American University everyone thought that the move made sense. How could you argue? American is a tiny (6,700 undergraduates) school nestled in Washington DC and now you're going to a state that worships wrestling. How is this a bad move? Well it wasn't and it isn't. I am going to try to make a point that staying at American was (or at least possibly) a better situation than taking the Oklahoma job. I'm a huge Mark Cody fan. Few coaches can make a claim for having a better last ten years than him. There is nothing negative I have ever heard of him. Amazing athlete, coach, and person is all about you hear, but this is just about the gigs he changed. 

Cody was an accomplished wrestler himself. He was a 3-time All-American splitting time at  SUNY Dehli then  Missouri. He was a finalist at the 1988 Olympic Trials. 

His coaching career consisted of a lot of stops as an assistant at Missouri, Bloomsburg, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Oklahoma State again, and then becoming the Head Coach for the first time at American University in 2002. At the time, American had been dropped and then resurrected with just 4.5 scholarships available for seven wrestlers. It wasn't until 2008 when American became a fully funded sport and a lot of the money was raised by Cody himself. He is the essence of a program builder. He had 14 All-Americans in his tenure and one national champion. Michigan State has only had 11 (only 3 guys) in that time and 1 national champion. American went from fledgling on life support program to 14 All-Americans and a national champion in a 6 season span. American took 5th as a team in 2011! That is ridiculous. 

The success was there, but how does it mean he could possibly do worse at Oklahoma? The Sooners are one of the few teams to win a National Championship in D1. Here are some possible explanations to how staying at American could have been better:

1) Little brother syndrome. Oklahoma is a great program and always been. However, they are the little brother to Oklahoma State. Sure, Oklahoma is a land of wrestling (and Carrie Underwood), but is a state with a small population of under 4 million. Washington DC has a population of almost 6 million and is surrounded by the east coast megalopolis.  

2) Washington DC (and east coast). While at American, Mark Cody once held duals in the Pentagon. I mean how badass is that? Some college towns are pretty cool to visit, but to live there for 9 months of the year can get pretty boring in a hurry. Washington DC and the east coast would not get boring quickly as you could hop on trains to where you need to go. There aren't that many schools to compete with for recruits on the East Coast as compared to the midwest. Sure there are a lot of teams, but outside of Penn State, who on the eastern seaboard was having more success than Cody at American from 2005-2011? (Maryland did finish 10th in 2009 which is really the only east coast team if you don't count Edinboro & Cornell.....you know....depending on your definition of "east coast"). 

3) Academics actually matter to wrestling recruits, and American University has some of the best political science and international affairs programs in the world. The academics are really strong and internship opportunities in DC are plentiful making AU a really advantageous place to go to school. Wrestling doesn't get enough credit for the fact that high level academic schools do well in our sport. Going to an Ivy League school, Northwestern, American, a Military Academy, etc doesn't mean you (as a program) won't/can't compete because of high academic admissions standards.  Plus if you decide to marry your college girlfriend (probably a poor move but if you do) she will make a lot more money than if you were attending a different school. Face it the hot chick from Arizona State with a Theater major is probably going to be cutting hair and paying off 30k in student loans. The nerdy hot chick from American will be pulling down major bank being some lawyer for the NSA. Now you can afford that F150 Raptor instead of the 1998 Ford Ranger. 

4) "Us against the world". They don't write movies about the kid that grew up in a loving household with rich parents who paid for the best coaches and went out there and succeeded. It doesn't make their accomplishments void and there's nothing wrong with great parents raising great successful kids and making the world a better place. It does make for a lousy movie though. If Rudy was 6'5" 240 and had Brian Urlacher speed, that'd be a pretty dumb picture. American seemed to have that special underdog feeling going for them. It's pretty cool and useful when used correctly. 

This article is not a shot at Mark Cody and the Sooners under his command could win national championships in the future. It's just interesting that with how this season is destined to end, the four seasons at Oklahoma now are pretty comparable to his last four seasons at American.