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Courtesy: Athletics Communications

Kevin Jackson Media Conference Transcript

Release: 05/01/2009
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AMES, Iowa - Below is a transcript of Friday's media conference as Iowa State introduced Kevin Jackson as its new head wrestling coach.

Kevin Jackson
“I am truly humbled to be in this position today to lead Iowa State’s wrestling team. I said to (ISU athletics director) Jamie (Pollard) we’re just going to continue the tradition that such coaches as Jim Gibbons, Bobby (Douglas) and Harold Nichols have started.”

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“This is a great opportunity for me. I thank the (ISU President Gregory Geoffroy), Jamie (Pollard), (ISU senior associate athletics director) David Harris, (ISU senior associate athletics director Steve (Malchow). I met with those guys Tuesday night and we clicked right away. I thought that for the first few minutes of the interview it went really well. It was more like a conversation than it was an interview. They understood that I wanted to be at Iowa State.”

“I’ve had some great years here in Ames, as student-athlete, as a world class wrestler. I couldn’t have won Olympic gold medals or world championships if it wasn’t for Iowa State, the athletics department and the Cyclone Wrestling Club.”

“I am excited to lead a group of young men that are sitting (in the auditorium). The team has come out to support me. I just got a chance to meet with them this morning. A couple of those guys are going to be competing at the end of this month at the World Team Trials. So, they are already on the path that I think is necessary for us to get the best recruits and for us to continue to have a tradition that holds true. We want NCAA champions, world class wrestlers and Olympic champions in our program.”

“I have family in the room today. I have several teammates that have been with me the last 20 years. I am really happy to know they are here. I am really excited to see the turnout and the applause is great.
“With that being said, it’s going to be a great run. You guys know why I am here. I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t think we could get it done. Our goal is to be the best. Our goals are to win every match, win every tournament, to win every dual, to beat our cross-state rivals. I can’t wait until we perform at Hilton Coliseum in that Iowa-Iowa State dual. That is going to be a great experience for everyone. You are going to see a change in our tactics, in our scoring, in our aggressiveness and the things that we are going to do to win matches.

“I still have obligations with Sunkist Kids. Some athletes are still competing at the World Team Trials and having camp at the end of the month in Lincoln, Neb. to prepare some guys for their final preparations in the World Championships and the World Team Trials.”

On the adjustments to being a first-time collegiate head coach
“There are several things I have to adjust to. I know I have a learning curve. The recruiting process is probably the most important part of it. Right now we are pretty solid in our lineup but I think immediately a there is a gap for the next season that I have to close in the recruiting process. I think we have a package that won’t be denied.

“I am excited because it is Iowa State. As you know, I had the possibility to coach at Arizona State as well but I was talking to Jamie and he knew the process I was in as well I was in the same mode with Arizona State as I was with Iowa State. I was communicating with their athletic director and associate athletic director. I told Jamie that Arizona State is going to call me back tonight and fly me in Friday and I don’t want to go and be put in that position. Jamie said they wanted me as our coach and I could have jumped through the roof. It was a crazy time. You have to realize that I won a gold medal but when he said that it was equally as exciting if not more than winning the gold because you are talking about coming back to Iowa State and competing in the greatest rivalry in wrestling if not sports.

“I was more than excited to accept the job even though my wife told me ‘don’t accept anything without looking at the contract and talking to me first.’ I went home and she said ‘what happened?’ I said that I took (the ISU job)."

"I am excited to be running the wrestling program. With this group of young men we are going to have a lot of fun and do a lot of winning. I think it is going to be exciting for these young men because there is nothing like winning the NCAA title for Iowa State with former ISU head coach (Jim) Gibbons in the room right now with his brother (Jeff). I understand how important it is for us to have success and I am impressed with Jamie’s understanding of the Cyclone Nation, that we needed a Cyclone in this program and there is a difference between being a Cyclone and a Hawkeye. While working at USA Wrestling, I followed Iowa State, I watched the Iowa State-Iowa dual. I go to the NCAA tournament and I am excited to be there."

“My deal is that my door is open. I want to get everyone involved. I want to get people involved that are going to support the program from a physical standpoint, a psychological standpoint, a financial standpoint. We are going to have to change some things.”

“Bill Tate, Mike Van Arsdale, Jim Gibbons, they were the reasons I came to Iowa State. I was speaking to my athletes this morning about what my history was and I wrestled at Louisiana State. My senior year of high school, I wrestled Mike at the junior national tournament. Mike is Mike; he is a little flamboyant and energetic young guy. We were wrestling at the junior nationals and I had just won Greco-Roman and I was on my 18th, 19th match in freestyle. I am wrestling Mike in the junior national tournament. I am ready to give it up, I am exhausted. We get through the first period and I am exhausted. The period gets over and I walk over to my corner exhausted, having mental letdowns. Mike looks at the crowd and says ‘I am going to get him.’ I thought ‘I am going to kill this guy.’ So I was able to beat him and I know he remembers it. From that experience, I went to Louisiana State the following year as a freshman and went to UNI to wrestle in our regional. I was watching the Iowa State High School Tournament and saw Mike wrestling Bill Tate and Bill beat him. That was the first time I found out that Mike and Bill were going to Iowa State. That summer, LSU dropped the program and I got to know Jeff Gibbons and we worked all summer together and we built a strong relationship which was why I decided to come to Iowa State. When I was at Louisiana State, I beat quite a few Iowa guys but I saw that Iowa won every national title, they had eight and when I got here they won number nine. I thought the group at Iowa State, if I transferred there could win. I have a life-long friendship with them. They are like brothers to me and I look forward to having them at all the dual meets. They have come a long way to support me today; it is great to see them.”

“Like I said when I talked to Jamie the first time, they had really done their homework and were really in-tune with what they thought the team needed. They understood after talking with Cael and his assistants what they thought they were missing. The group I am about to put my hands on is a luxury. They are very good, they have won a number of trophies at the NCAA tournament, and they have a number of All-Americans on the team. With that being said, we want to be great and that is our goal, to go from good to great. They are such exceptional wrestlers now but only one has met his goals and won a national championship. They all want to be national champions so that is a step we have to take. Cael left a gold mine and it is my responsibility to take the next step with these guys. That is the goal and that is what we started to pursue yesterday.

“I don’t want any of (the current team members) to leave. I am going to try and keep every single one of our athletes here because I believe that they can meet all their goals at Iowa State. Iowa State is a better institution than anywhere they would go. And I understand that kids come to a program for a coach but the kids that stay are here are for Iowa State and they want to get it done here. They have competed against Iowa the past three or four years and have not had the success they were looking for and they know what they are capable of and being able to do here. We have a core group of guys here who are invested in Cael but invested in the university and a degree and finishing what they have started. It is up to me to make sure that investment they made pays off. I am not going to say who wants to leave because I want everyone to stay and that is something we will work on.

“I want the kids that want to be here, that want to be at Iowa State, a kid that wants train with my guys out here, a guy that wants to be part of a national championship program and a kid that wants to wrestle for Iowa State and his coach. I understand a kid’s mentality, when I was going through recruiting; I was looking for a coach and university. Because Cael is Cael and has his legendary status to the young kids, that kids think that they are going to wrestle for Cael. I want the kids to be happy. I know the four kids that are incoming and I want them to be happy.”

“I do have ideas for the coaching staff; I am not going to share them. They told me to take my time with the hires because they are going to be important hires for me. The people I put in place have to aid me in my learning curve have to be loyal to myself and the program. There is a short list and a long list. I have worked with a lot of coaches and athletes at the NCAA level and I can’t tell you how many people want to be part of the Iowa State program. I am going to take my time picking the people who are going to aid me.

“My goal is to see Iowa State win but I am also going to aid the country with our collegiate athletes to advance them to win at the world-class level. We are going to get some quality guys back in our room and some former Cyclones who are going to sit in Hilton with 15,000 others. I am going to push hard to see if that happens and then I am going to work on finalizing our staff. My priorities are to meet with the team, which I have already done and then I have some individual meetings this weekend to talk with these guys to see where their heads are at and what they need to win. That is very important to me.”

“I am older and a little heavier than (former Iowa State head coach) Cael (Sanderson). I have been in the game for a while and have some expertise. I think Cael is a great coach and will become a greater coach and have success at Penn State. I don’t want to say anything that is going jeopardize that from a personal standpoint. We are all different and I am happy for him and his family, I think he will do a great job at Penn State and as long as he is happy I am happy.”

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