USA Wrestling has announced Matt Lindland as its new Greco-Roman wrestling head coach.
Lindland takes charge of a floundering USA Greco program which hasn't won an individual medal at the World Championships or Olympics since 2009. The University of Nebraska alumnus will look to recapture the historically unprecedented success experienced by USA Greco in the early part of this century when the United States claimed its only gold medalist in an non-boycotted Olympics (Rulon Gardner), three different individual world champions (including Joe Warren, the Baddest Man on the Planet) and a team world championship in 2007 (one of the most significant, unexpected and most ignored triumphs in American sporting history).
By my count, only six Americans have won medals in Greco-Roman wrestling at both the Olympics and World Championships, and Lindland was the only one to do it at two different weights. In 2000, Lindland won a silver medal at the Sydney Olympics at 76 kg, and in 2001 he claimed silver at 84 kg at the World Championships in Greece.
By any standard, Lindland has the competitive accomplishments to coach Greco at any level, but he also has a pretty lengthy coaching background as well. USA Wrestling provides his history as a coach below.
Lindland has vast experience in Greco-Roman, both as a world-class athlete and a successful wrestling coach. In addition, he brings additional coaching experience in Mixed Martial Arts, where he was both a champion athlete and a coach for numerous successful athletes.
Most recently, Lindland served as World Team Coach for the 2013 U.S. Greco-Roman World Team which competed in Budapest, Hungary. He has coached U.S. tour teams which have competed in Poland twice and in Cuba. Lindland also coached at a number of Greco-Roman National Team Training camps in recent years.
He also has extensive experience coaching at the college level, serving as an assistant at the two colleges where he attended as a student-athlete.
In recent years, he has been a coach for Clackamas CC in Oregon, one of the nation's top junior college teams, working with head coach Josh Rhoden. Clackamas won the NJCAA team title in 2011. This season, Clackamas won the National Duals title, placed third at the NJCAA Nationals and had a record seven All-Americans.
During his competitive career, Lindland served as an assistant coach at Nebraska from 1993-1996. During his time on the Cornhusker staff, Lindland coached NCAA champion Brad Vering and All-American Justin Ruiz, both who later went on to become World medalists in Greco-Roman for the United States. Four-time NCAA All-American Bryan Snyder was also a star athlete who competed under Lindland.
After retiring from wrestling in 2001, Lindland became a professional mixed martial arts athlete. Lindland was the top ranked Middleweight in MMA for a number of years. He also opened up his own successful gym, Team Quest, where he coached mixed martial arts athletes, as well as youth wrestlers in the Portland community. Over 20 athletes coached by Lindland became fighters in the UFC, and many others participated in other MMA organizations.
One of Lindland's club athletes, Tarrance Williams, who also competes in Mixed Martial Arts, placed fourth at the 2014 U.S. Greco-Roman Open in Las Vegas, Nev.
Though Lindland's greatest sporting achievements came as a wrestler, most readers on this blog know Lindland as a mixed martial artist. Through a 14 year fighting career, Lindland amassed a professional MMA record of 22-9, fighting in top promotions such as the UFC, Affliction and Srikeforce.
The USA Greco announcement is just one of a number of huge coaching changes in the American wrestling world this spring, here are some of the others
Bruce Burnett: New USA Wrestling head freestyle coach
Burnett returns to his post as the United States' head freestyle coach, replacing the very successful Zeke Jones. I suppose that, after a long and distinguished career as a wrestling coach, and retirement from an impressive career leading the Naval Academy's program, Burnett felt he still had some gas left in the tank.
Zeke Jones: New Arizona State head coach
I'm a huge Jones fans, if there were such a thing as sabermetrics in wrestling, he would be the first to use them. When the ASU job opened up this March, Jones couldn't turn down the opportunity to return to his alma mater. ASU is the only D I program west of the Rockies to win a national championship, perhaps Jones can earn a second.
Donnie Pritzlaff: New Rutgers associate head coach
Pritzlaff, a two-time NCAA champ, world bronze medalist and one of the nations top assistant coaches returns to his home state of New Jersey. Rutgers, one of college wrestling's perennial sleeping giants, needs all the help it can get as it heads to the Big Ten conference next year.
Cary Kolat: New Campbell University head coach
Kolat, an American wrestling legend takes on one of the toughest coaching jobs in the nation in Campbell University. Where is Campbell? If you're heading south on 95 in North Carolina, hang a right at Cafe' Risque and keep going for another 45 minutes.
Sammie Henson: New West Virginia University head coach
There's no reason that WVU shouldn't have one of the nation's top wrestling programs, and with Olympic silver medalist and world champ Sammie Henson running the show, things will likely improve in a hurry. They better, or the wrestlers will face the wrath of the Bull.
Joel Sharatt: New Naval Academy head coach.
Sharatt was fine as the Air Force academy coach, he'll be fine in Annapolis.
Division I jobs at Purdue, Eastern Michigan and Northern Colorado remain vacant.