Northwestern’s new Head Coach recently sat down with TOM. Coach Paraino is taking over a program loaded with young talent and is excited to get the ball rolling. It sounds as if some of the freshman will get their feet wet early and often. He also shares his thoughts on what he learned from former Head Coach Cysewski, why Northwestern is the place to be and who wins between Lesnar and Cain.
TOM: You are taking over a young team that is loaded with talent, do you think it is a benefit that the team is young and you can set the tone with the young guys and your coaching style?
DP: Itâ€™s always great to have a nucleus of guys who bring in a certain attitude, a winning attitude. I think that our freshmen class has that type of attitude, and not just about wrestling but about everything that they do. They are a very competitive group of guys and all nine of the m bring something different to the table. Geographically, we have two guys from Pennsylvania, two from Missouri, three from Illinois, one from Ohio, and one from Wisconsin. All that being said, we have outstanding leadership in 2X All-American Brandon Precin, NCAA R12 Andrew Nadhir and fifth year senior, Bobby Joyce. The entire make-up of the team is exciting and we canâ€™t wait to compete and win Big Ten and NCAA Titles.
TOM: You spent a lot of time under former coach Cysewski what things have you learned that you feel will make you a successful Head Coach?
DP: Tim is an unbelievable mentor for me. He treats people with respect and quite honestly, he handles a four year starter the same way that he treats a walk-on. For me, that mentality is a huge part of the process of being a head coach. Tim was my coach during my years at Northwestern and Iâ€™ve had an outstanding opportunity to see him from the perspective of a former athlete as well as a fellow coach. Undeniably, the respect and attitude has not changed with Cysewski in over 35 years of coaching. Heâ€™s a great coach and a great guy to be around on a daily basis.
TOM: Our fans like to learn more then box score, tell us something about yourself most people or fans would not know about you?
DP: I donâ€™t sleep a lot and I am always thinking about new ways to manage the guys on the team. Of course, all of us have our proven ways that we wonâ€™t deviate from but I also like to explore new ways to the test the guys and get the most out of them.
The freshmen on the team take a while to figure me out â€“ hopefully, I can keep them guessing!
TOM: Earlier I mentioned that you guys pulled in an impressive recruiting class, will any of them be seeing the mat this year or is the plan to red-shirt them?
DP: I think that we have 4 or 5 guys that can step in right away and make an impact. I believe that Dake proved that a guy can come right out of the gate and win immediately. Iâ€™ve had those discussions with several of our freshmen and they agree. I can tell you thisâ€¦all of them will be ready to compete. I always am encouraged when our young guys can put pressure on the upper-classmen. It proves that your team is full of hard nosed guys and that your program is evolving.
TOM: While we are on the topic of recruiting could you tell us some of the key things you look at in a potential recruit?
DP: Attitude â€“ on and off the mat. I like guys that donâ€™t get rattled when they are competing at events like Fargo or their state championships. In addition, itâ€™s great when you find a kid that does not care who he is wrestling. To them, itâ€™s more about them making their technique work against whoever it is that stands across the mat from them.
TOM: The Big Ten recently added Nebraska making an already very tough Big Ten even tougher. How do you think this will impact the Big Ten tournament and the qualifying process?
DP: Coach Manning and his staff will make an already tough conference even tougher. I think that we will potentially have 80-82 qualifiers in the Big Ten after they join in 2011. You might see weight classes where we have 9 or 10 NCAA Qualifiers. It just adds to the domination of the Big Ten (12 strong).
TOM: We have seen numerous programs eliminated this year, what are you thoughts on that and what is being done at Northwestern to assure the stability of the program well into the future?
DP: It always seems that when programs are dropped, there is a list of excuses that that university presidents or athletic directors give to the general public. Right now, the topic is budget cuts and the fact that schools â€œsayâ€ that they canâ€™t remain competitive with the present operational budget(s). Behind the scenes, the real reasons always seem to be uncovered. At Northwestern, we have an athletic department that respects the fact that we have had ongoing success for years. In addition, our staff has reached out to our Alums to keep them up to date on Northwestern Wrestling news. Itâ€™s important to keep people in the know and we do a great job of that. Finally, like most programs, we have established an endowment to preserve the program.
TOM: As a sport we have one of the most successful national tournaments, large crowds and wonderful fan support, why do you think does that not carry over into the regular season (attendance etc.)?
DP: Well, we are going to find out this year at Northwestern what it takes. Just yesterday, we were awarded the 2011 Big Ten Championships. Along with the annual NU Duals and the 48th Annual Midlands Championships, we will be hosting most of college wrestlingâ€™s biggest showcases. When talking about dual meets, I think that programs need to market themselves better, get the community involved, and be exciting. Jake Herbert (named to the Northwestern Staff last week) is a true entertainer when he wrestles. When he was competing for NU, he had entire crowds coming to see him put on a show. The Northwestern soccer team did not miss any of Jakeâ€™s matches; they once showed up in wrestling singlets and had noise makers. Every program needs a niche, something that will keep the crowd coming in every time that you host an event.
TOM: If I were a recruit, what would you tell me is the biggest reason I should consider NU?
DP: We have proven that you can do it all at Northwestern. For example, Herbert is a 2X NCAA Champion, 4X All-American, Hodge Trophy Winner, a World Silver Medalist and during all of this, he was able to become a 2X Academic All-American. When guys graduate from Northwestern, they are fully equipped to succeed in life after wrestling if they donâ€™t go on to compete at the World level. The campus is just 15 minutes from one of the most exciting cities in the country and that opens up a world of opportunity for them both during their time at NU and after graduation. Our wrestling facilities are outstanding and we believe that we have the best academic support system in the country.
TOM: Finally for fun; Cain or Brock, who wins?
DP: Man, that is tough. I like the fact that both of them are former college wrestlers. I think that Brock may try to use some pro wrestling tactics though! In my opinion, if Brock is completely healthy, I have to go with him. Plus, he competed in the Big Ten during his college days.