It's huge. I think he's one of the best coaches in the country. I had said earlier that I think it changes the whole landscape of our program and what we're trying to do. He's phenomenal. Deep down, somewhere down the line, I always had a vision that I'd be working side-by-side with him. So I was just really happy to get him back home. I didn't think it was a great shot. I didn't think it was going to happen, and then he was all for it. It's huge for us.
How important is it to hire a guy that knows the ins and outs of the Big Ten?
That's one of the main reasons why I thought it was such an important step for this program. Our administration felt the same way. He wrestled in the Big Ten. He's coached at Wisconsin and Michigan. He's had No. 1 recruiting classes twice. Just going into this conference, [he] is somebody that knows it – the ins and outs – and how to train for it and prepare for it. It's a tough road. You know? And he's been through it all. It's important.
How much does going into the Big Ten help you in getting the resources you need?
You will not be able to compete if we were stuck where we were three years back. This is allowing us to find a way to hire someone like Donny. It just shows that this administration is willing to give us the resources to be competitive. We already have a nice program, and who knows where we're going to go with it, hopefully right to the top. We don't expect to win a Big Ten Championship. That's going to take some time. It's not going to happen any time soon, but we're going to have the right guy recruiting. We're going to have the right guy sitting there the next couple of years to be really, really competitive.
Do you feel like the administration is aware of how big this conference move is?
Yeah. They want to win. They want to win. I don't feel they want to be the doormat of this conference. And it's a slippery slope. You don't do some things for your programs, it could get ugly. I think they are aware of that, understand it and know the challenges. Even that with facilities, it's a long road, but things like this help us get there a little faster.
What does Donny's name do for recruiting?
Now you've got someone who is not known just in Jersey, but all over the country. He's one of the best recruiters in the country. If I could pick one guy as the best recruiter, it would be him. He's known all over the Midwest, all the way out west. Guys love him. He's a world team member, so he's got the international experience. He's got the freestyle stuff going too. It was a no-brainer.
Have you found yourself in recruiting battles against him?
Sure, yeah with Anthony Ashnault, and it's one we won. I don't know how we got him. Anthony was going to go to Michigan, and that was a tough 48 hours for me. But family won over, just like it did with Donny. He wanted to be with his family in Jersey.
You have Jersey coaches and wrestlers all over the place at Rutgers. How big is that?
As far as recruiting goes, it's important, but I think we've changed our philosophy. It's got to be the right guy. It can't just be because he's a Jersey guy. He's got to be the right go, because now the pool has gotten a lot larger, so there's Ohio kids who are interested, Pennsylvania – really the two best states in wrestling with Jersey of course. The pool has gotten wider. Do we want the best Jersey kids? Everybody says keep them home. We'll try to keep them home, but they have to be the right fit. It can't just be because they've got credentials and they're from Jersey. They've got to be the right fit.
How much does it pay off to have events in New York City like this?
They love it. There's kids who come out on recruiting trips now who have never been in the city [of New York]. It's something we'll start to implement as we expand our recruiting horizons and get out West and things like that. When we bring them on campus, [we will] bring them into the city – especially kids who are business guys. We've got a train station right on campus. That's how close we are, and that's important to them. The parents are really into it too.