ISU Wrestling: Two more interview for ISU opening
By DAN McCOOL ? dmccool@dmreg.com ? April 28, 2009

Olympic gold medalist and Iowa State all-American Kevin Jackson interviewed with Iowa State officials Tuesday about the university's head wrestling coach vacancy.

Art Martori, founder of the Arizona-based Sunkist Kids club program, confirmed Jackson's meeting.

"I told Kevin if he was interested in that job, that he should go for it," said Martori, who declined to comment when asked about the location of the interview. "I'm sure he told them that he's got my green light on this 100 percent."


Meanwhile, USA Wrestling executive director Rich Bender said Iowa State asked permission to speak to Larry "Zeke" Jones, USA Wrestling's national freestyle coach.

Jackson and Jones are also candidates for the head coaching job at Arizona State.

Jackson has said in a previous interview with The Des Moines Register that he was aware Iowa State officials spoke to former Cyclone Chris Bono, head coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga, and Ohio State assistant coach Joe Heskett - a 2002 NCAA champion and four-time all-American at Iowa State.

Jackson, a captain on Iowa State's 1987 NCAA championship squad, is in his first year as head coach for the Sunkist Kids.

He has no head coaching experience at the college level, but was a volunteer assistant at Arizona State between 1995-98.

"There is always a learning curve to every job," Jackson earlier told the Register about the Iowa State job. "I study the sport, I understand the sport, I know the sport."

Jackson was USA Wrestling's national freestyle coach from 2001 through 2008 - and guided the American team during the most recent Olympics in Beijing, China.

The 1992 Olympic gold medalist and 1991 and 1995 World champion was a three-time all-American at Louisiana State before the program was dropped and he transferred to Iowa State.

Jones has ties to Ames and to the Iowa State wrestling program as well.

He was a member of the Arizona State team coached by future Iowa State coach Bobby Douglas that won the 1988 NCAA championship in Ames. His brother, Johnnie Jones, was an all-American at 118 pounds for Iowa State in 1976 and '77.

Zeke Jones was a 1991 freestyle world champion and a silver medalist in the 1992 Olympics. Before replacing Jackson as national freestyle coach, Jones served as head coach at West Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania.

"Zeke's been very open and we've had an open conversation regarding that," Bender said of the Iowa State position.

Martori said Iowa State will get a quality replacement for Cael Sanderson, who took the head coaching position at Penn State two weeks ago after three seasons at Iowa State.

"I think (Jackson) is a great coach, I think Chris Bono is a great coach, I think Zeke Jones is a great coach," Martori said. "These people they are interviewing right now, and have interviewed, are great people. (The Cyclones) deserve a good coach."

Iowa State officials also asked permission to speak to Iowa assistant coach Terry Brands, the twin brother of Hawkeye coach Tom Brands. Iowa athletic director Gary Barta confirmed Iowa State's interest, but said Terry Brands told him he was not considering the position.

If Jones lands a job with Iowa State or Arizona State, it would be the third position within one calendar year.

He resigned at Penn in September 2008 to take the USA Wrestling post.

"We think he brings a special skill set to the table to put our athletes on the podium at the worlds and Olympic Games," Bender said. "The same characteristics that make up a good international coach probably make up a good college coach. It's a good thing when colleges are looking at our staff. In my mind, they are elite coaches."