USA Greco

‘Watching Dominoes Fall’ Part II: In Too Deep

watching dominoes fall, part ii

The exact date on which USA Wrestling created the position known as “General Manager, Greco-Roman” also happens to stand as the exact date when Matt Lindland’s days as the US National Team head coach became numbered.

As for that precise date, it is unknown by this writer. What I do know, for certain, is that the Greco-Roman General Manager slot was fabricated prior to January 22, 2022. And I know this because residing in my email is the original PDF of the job description on the aforementioned corresponding date. 48 hours later, USA Wrestling advertised the role on their home domain.

What I had also learned on January 22 of this year was that — at the bare minimum least — Ivan Ivanov was the preferred candidate, if not the actual, locked-down pick.

I said not one word about it upon being burdened with this knowledge. And make no mistake, it was a burden. Shortly after USAW published the job ad, text messages from potentially-interested parties filled my phone probing for details. I had promised not to share any inside information on the matter, which resulted in my playing coy in text responses. Situations like this one always put me in a difficult spot because I do not wish to be a liar. At the same time, we are such a small, insular community. Most of us are friends, to varying degrees, making it awfully pretentious to unleash some journalistic diatribe about “protecting sources” or responding with “at this time, there is nothing more to report”. The type of people who reach out to me, they’d never buy those lines, anyway.

I just went with the truth, which was that I knew the name of the supposed #1 choice but would not be broadcasting it. I encouraged several to apply, even though they were light on credentials. The way I saw it, doing so would put their names in the system, so to speak, which might help them down the road for other opportunities. The one slip-up I had was telling a couple of inquiring minds, both of whom Ivanov disciples, that they would be “happy” with the presumptive top candidate and left it at that. Credit to where credit is due, one of these individuals guessed Ivan right from jump. His tip-off was based off of the job description mentioning that a “desire to work remote may be considered”.

Fair enough, but it was still a jolt from where I was sitting. I would have guessed dozens and dozens of names before landing on Ivan, who I had figured was out of the picture, what with being the founder of a wrestling empire in Suples, and by extension the keeper of a maniacal work ethic.

There was something else hanging in the air, too.

The Ivan Era

Unless you’re as green as a cucumber, you are aware of Ivan’s legacy as a coach and what he did when presiding over the United States Olympic Education Center on the campus of Northern Michigan University. That is the place where he managed to build a dynasty in a training environment that was supposed to be developmental. How many articles, or how many words per article, would be required to tell that story? A book, then a movie. Those might suffice. Harry Lester earned consecutive World bronze medals under Ivan. Spenser Mango’s dominant run in the sport’s lightest weight category began in the same era. As did the collective emergence of Jake Fisher, Jacob Curby, Joe Betterman, Chas Betts, Andy Bisek (who himself would later go on to become a two-time World bronze), Marco Lara, and so on, so on, so on, and so on. Cheney Haight obviously, as well, but Cheney almost doesn’t count since he had actually begun training under Ivan prior to enrolling at NMU (yet was not even interviewed for one of the two most recent job openings, which is totally hilarious).

The Northern kids were either beating established Seniors or coming nice and close. They were making World and Olympic Teams. The United States does not sniff a Team World title in 2007 if NMU fails to transform into a shark tank of young competitors who were pushing the top domestic Seniors on a regular basis. A significant component to their success could be attributed to Ivan’s technical mastery and adherence to stout positioning. He re-introduced to athletes the concept of body awareness, which is critical to absorb when observing the contrasting mechanics between Greco-Roman and folkstyle.

This was not rocket science to Ivan. He demanded excellence by focusing on discipline and fundamentals. Better yet, he made young men afraid to give up on themselves, and did so by forging a culture responsible for breeding unnerving competitiveness without ever sacrificing overall togetherness. To call what he did “exceptional” is practically an insult. No, what Ivan did in Marquette was so utterly remarkable that it has since not approached replication in this country.

But, you know, USA Wrestling did not wish to pony up a measly few thousand dollars to keep him, or NMU assistant/two-time Olympian Jim Gruenwald, for that matter. A dream team pairing they were. And in ’09, just like that, the “Ivan Era” at NMU screeched to an abrupt halt. Oh, he somehow managed to plug along with life. He focused more intently on Suples, turned that company into the most dependable training equipment supplier in the sport, has employed loads of people, trots the globe, and still finds time to teach kids. Productive enough for you?

Plus, Ivan had little trouble maintaining cordiality with USAW in the wake of his departure. Some of that you have to figure had been business-oriented. Just not all of it.

Over the years, American athletes — either by themselves or through approved training plans — had visited the Suples HQ in Boise to work with him. The winter of 2018 in particular ignites a brainwave. That February, Ivan hosted an on-the-books camp for US Seniors and the experience was punctuated by a dual meet against Serbia. Another hat tip came during the summer of ’20, the heat of pandemia. With Seniors badly needing mat time but unable to find much of it, Ivan opened the doors to his club and ran a multi-day camp. He was also not a stranger at several training facilities, including NMU and the OTC (Olympic and Paralympic Training Center).

Previous to January ’22, Ivan’s involvement had been more than peripheral, albeit a clear step below formal. Aside from coaching Hayden Tuma (67 kg) and a collection of promising youths, there was a decent measure of distance. He helped when he could but was definitely not married to the program.

“My New Boss”

There was no choice but for the impending rollout of the GM position to serve as a subject worthy of discussion between Lindland and I. Zero choice. At first glance, the job description seemed like an upgraded version of what Gary Mayabb had been doing until returning to the Midwest last year. Then I actually read the thing — while on the phone with Lindland, no less. He instructed, “Look at where it says ‘reports to’.” My eyes zipped towards the top of the PDF and there it was, “USA Wrestling Director, National Teams High Performance” (Rich Bender and Cody Bickley, respectively). More confusion. I didn’t get it. “What does this even mean?” I asked. “Whoever they hire will be my new boss,” replied Lindland.

As National Team head coach, Lindland needed a lot of things. More oversight wasn’t one of them. He already had Bender, Les Gutches, the Executive Committee, and the ridiculous Greco-Roman Sport Committee. Why the brass thought one more person to whom Lindland, the National Team head coach, should answer was, at first, beyond my comprehension. Half of what the man requested or attempted to put in action was already routinely shot down. Adding personnel to that mix appeared unnecessary and out of place. Undermining, as well, but it wasn’t my gig that was all of the sudden under threat. My biggest question was simply this: if they were willing to spend this much on a GM, why wouldn’t they just divert that money directly towards the program and let Lindland spend it on whatever it is he thinks will help the athletes? Following numerous levels of absurd and out-of-touch committee approval, of course.

Lindland and I didn’t blurt it out loud. We didn’t have to. They, USAW, were fixing to hire someone who would be armed with the capability to fire him. Someone who could swoop in, make a splash, and eventually concoct a reason to pull that trigger. The degree of autonomy betrayed in the job description laid it out plainly under the “Responsibilities” header. Note that each “responsibility” would normally fall under the auspices of the National Team head coach (see screenshot below).

greco-roman general manager responsibilities1

I asked Lindland how the role was originally presented to him. He did not seem to enjoy that the new position was conceived without his knowledge. That part I did understand. He then told me that they sold it to him as a pressure-reliever when it came to administrative tasks — and framed it as though less paperwork and emails would “free him up” for more on-the-mat coaching. I don’t think he bought it. I sure didn’t. This wasn’t paranoia. The circumstances dripped with uneasiness.

Phone Games, Discontent, & Nausea

Alleviating some of the confusion was, in fact, Ivan looming over the proceedings. It was the sole component that allowed any of this to make even a semblance of sense. I still felt that the invention of the GM job was a stab in the back to Lindland; but if USAW wanted to undermine him with a direct superior (seven-plus years into his tenure), Ivan’s credentials as a coach and former program leader were exceedingly difficult with which to argue. He checked every meaningful box displayed in the job description and, in my own little opinion, was a superb choice — with the caveat that this endeavor was not intended as a mission to sabotage Lindland on the part of USAW.

It didn’t take long for…leakage. Within days of USA Wrestling publishing the ad, two individuals separately informed me that Ivan had told them that the job was his. This I found to be high comedy. It just jived with how messy and dysfunctional that hiring process in Colorado Springs must be. They were accepting applications, because that is exactly what a front-facing organization is supposed to do when they publish a new job opportunity; but they already had their guy so far as I and several others understood, and “their guy” wasn’t shy about declaring it. Two weeks into the aftermath of the ad release, while Lindland was in Bulgaria, we got on a WhatsApp video call. He was in-between rounds at the Nikola Petrov and in his hotel room when he said, “Well, apparently Ivan is telling people that he’s taking the job.” I reciprocated with what I was hearing before we both hypothesized regarding what this newfangled hierarchy might entail once it became official in April.

Meanwhile back in America, there were a few retired greats who were all kinds of hot and bothered about USAW declining to interview them. Rulon Gardner erupted on Facebook, Mike Foy chimed in, so too did Derrick Waldroup. Dennis Hall stood up for these dudes online as well as in what was a series of testy phone conversations with me. He’s a cutie pie. We had even recorded a podcast segment on the topic but I withheld releasing it. Just too contentious, even for us. Hall argued that Rulon, Foy, and Waldroup should have at least been granted interviews. I disagreed, mostly because the entire GM hiring process looked very much like a shell game. Hall was legitimately angry on behalf of those guys, despite the fact that by then I had made sure he was in the loop on the Ivan scenario. Hall loves Ivan, like for-real for-real, but was unable to tolerate the notion that USAW couldn’t be moved to throw the trio of Gardner, Foy, and Waldroup courtesy calls. I got it. Hall is loyal. Good for him. Not many are.

Not in this program.

What got to me the most — other than empathizing with Lindland, who would in my mind soon don the label of “lame duck” — was learning that TC Dantzler had entered his name in the GM sweepstakes. This is a man for whom I hold a true personal affinity, and respect to the enth degree professionally.

It was the worst news.

We’re talking about the real deal here in TC, a man whose wrestling career was long and impressive but perhaps overshadowed by a string of incredible entrepreneurial successes. Which is a compliment. Moreover, TC himself had immense, demonstrable experience coaching and developing athletes. He was likewise responsible for helping provide the US with G’Angelo Hancock, Kamal Bey (77 kg, Army/WCAP), Britton Holmes (77 kg, Army/WCAP), and Cohlton Schultz (130 kg, Sunkist), among others, and remained close to the inner-workings of the program by coaching at the OTC whenever available to do so. I wouldn’t go so far as to peg Ivan as an “outsider”, because that’s just plumb-dumb. This nation owes a sizable debt of gratitude to him. But compared to TC, it is also not an outlandish perception when taking into account the latter’s constant presence through the years.

So, if the GM were not pre-determined, then, from my vantage point, TC should have been considered the front-runner — even over Ivan. That’s the key: USAW was looking for a General Manager, not a coach by normalized coaching standards. To me, TC’s scope of experience throughout numerous business ventures combined with his continual ties to the program screamed “GM”. But since I was not convinced that the hiring process was above-board, and instead assumed that the position was Ivan’s from the very beginning, whatever misgivings I already had quickly became amplified.

I was unsure of what TC was hearing at the time but figured that he had been made aware of Ivan’s place in this drama. And, again, from the time the job was announced I had mostly looked at it as a groundwork excuse for USA Wrestling to rid themselves of Lindland. TC wasn’t going to fire Lindland, nor would he recommend that sort of move. No, they needed a person who would be comfortable with dropping the hammer.

Just before his interview, TC sent me a text message containing a screenshot of the email from Bickley indicating that he was a finalist. I didn’t know what to write back to him and settled for something like, “Hope you get it!” Poor guy never had a chance. It made me both anxious and nauseous. I deserved it. I deserved it for being in too deep.

It’s Settled

USAW gathered to conduct interviews. They were running through Ivan, TC, and Army/World Class Athletes Program head coach Shon Lewis. Lewis, his hat in the ring was logical. He was definitely a qualified applicant thanks to his tenure at WCAP, where he has essentially functioned as a GM for two decades. He coordinates more than coaches, especially these days, which is a byproduct of their structure. WCAP has a full staff of extremely knowledgeable assistants. That allows him to delegate. They compete in more than one style, as well. There are a lot of moving parts and he oversees all of them. I have nothing negative to say about Shon, but we are not involved with one another. We have not interacted very much and I’d reckon that both of us are just fine with keeping it that way.

They completed the rest of their process and held a vote that had Ivan purportedly edging TC by a single point. Upon hearing this, I took it as theater. Only those on the GM hiring committee who were charged with casting votes know for certain the validity of their participation. Then again, maybe they don’t.

The official announcement came down on April 14, a little less than three months after the job opened. It was a smash hit for USA Wrestling. Across various social media channels, users were celebrating Ivan as the pick. Such is the man’s reputation. There was palpable excitement. People were sincerely pumped. It was low-hanging fruit as far as a narratives go. Here comes Ivan Ivanov, the best coach USA Wrestling ever let slip away, and now he’s back to save the Greco-Roman program! Right? Close enough?

This was the sentiment. It was all my eyes and ears could handle. I started turning sour on the topic. I hadn’t refused to buy into Ivan, though I did wonder if he were an unwitting accessory to potential shenanigans. It caused me to snap at someone in the middle of a call. This person was an innocent, unlike myself. They were extolling the vast virtues of one Ivan Ivanov and I huffed, “Well, unless Ivan petitions the NCAA and the US Department of Education to remove folkstyle from the schools, he really won’t make much of a difference.” Should have kept that round chambered, regardless of how on-the-nose it probably was relative to the ills of this style domestically.

Zoom In

Ivan could not bask in the glow of his own hiring. Not how he operates, bless his heart. There wasn’t time for histrionics, other than some glad-handing at the US Open. The first item on the agenda, through the eyes of Lindland and company, was deciphering where the first-ever “General Manager, Greco-Roman” fit into the puzzle. Ivan himself did not seem to know. No one did.

He was traveling on and off still, prior engagements, etc. No problem there, these people have meetings by way of Zoom video calls. You’ve got to love it. Zoom meetings, they’re good for staying on the same page, not so much for arriving on the same page. It is the #1 reason why so many of these meetings are used for…planning additional meetings. Sure, there is the convenience factor. Video conferencing makes it possible to bring colleagues together without having to travel, and without having to spend money on traveling. Yup, got it. The pandemic delivered Zoom and Microsoft Teams to the forefront of the business and social consciousnesses, and myriad USAW committees still rely on video-calling tech when discussing all matters trivial and otherwise.

But for the Greco program? In this case? Ooh, I don’t know, ace-high. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but if there is going to be a new position introduced carrying such high-level importance and responsibility as a General Manager, methinks it might be a jazzy idea to go right on ahead and ensure that you all discuss each other’s roles in person, even if it means having to wait a little longer. That way, you don’t risk the new GM — who is basically the CEO of the program — coming in and saying “I’m more of a mat coach”.

When I heard that this is what Ivan had declared in a Zoom meeting, all I could do was laugh. The guy was not hired to be a “mat coach”, he was hired to guide the mat coach. He was hired to give his thumb’s-up on training plans, or not, or rewrite new ones, all in the name of executing an overall vision. What was he not being called upon to do? Lace up his shoes to run practices.

Did Ivan have it wrong? Or was he told by someone that he might be coaching athletes directly? Or, was there just too much sensitivity with regards to his presence, thereby portraying his “I’m more of a mat coach” proclamation as more confusing (and worrisome) than it really should have been? I personally didn’t expect him to stay glued to the sidelines, and I don’t think anyone else did, either. I don’t even think anyone would have wanted him to do that. He was far too valuable of a resource. But the fact that he made such a statement elevated the degree of concern among some and it was easy to see why.

Because — the tasks associated with the GM title were not yet clearly defined, nor appropriately communicated. That wasn’t Ivan’s fault, or Bickley’s, or Lindland’s. The three of them were stuck in a swirling storm of chaos that was the result of an organization rushing a new role into action when the more prudent decision would have been to wait until the following season. It was too late. And no amount of dorky Zoom meetings were going to fix the issue.

Office Space

Another item for which Ivan is not culpable happens to be the lack of a Q&A with him on this platform centering around the GM position. I had wanted to get that done, and realized the readership might have wanted that, as well. It wasn’t on him. It was my fault. As soon as his acceptance of the job became public, we both tried to set a day and time to talk. The oddest part about it was his accessibility. Ivan can be tough to reach sometimes. He’ll get back to you, but it might be a day or three. I fully anticipated having to exercise patience in receiving a response. Not necessary. I chose to email him and, by golly, this guy was emailing me back right quick. He was by and large available based on my schedule.

The snag was actually my own availability. I work outside, usually for long hours, which often limits my rate of production for 5PM. April and May for Senior Greco were busy months. We had the Open, the Pan-Ams, the World Team Trials, whatever else, and 5PM always prioritizes the men in the arena over the men in the office. I had also set out to do a pre or post-US Open Coach Lindland’s Report, with Lindland requesting that we complete the piece before Ivan went on-the-record. He didn’t want to have to answer a question pertaining to Ivan’s job responsibilities, mainly because, as referenced above, he was not yet quite sure how to explain them. This is another reason why the intro for Ivan’s GM piece remains in the drafts folder of this website collecting digital dust.

Most of May was quiet in terms of Colorado Springs mishegoss. Competition on the mat had thankfully picked up steam. The previous month’s National tournament accomplished the objective of setting up a pretty compelling World Team Trials, and then there were the two Final X series dates peeking just over the horizon. I loved all of it. More than usual, if not more than ever. The sport, the results, they were what mattered most in Greco-land again. Covering the tournaments easily allowed me to push aside the swarm of distractions and concentrate on producing what I had hoped was decent material. Side conversations were still being had. Couldn’t avoid it. Way too much of my time was consumed by dirty laundry.

That’s okay. We’re washing it now.

The two Final X cards in early-June — at which Greco was represented rather well by a few terrific series — obscured budding tensions among the program’s leadership. By then, Ivan had begun to challenge Lindland regarding the summer’s training block. Philosophical differences. The plan following World Team selection was to include camp at the OTC in July and more overseas activity, with the latter modality not favored by Ivan. He apparently disagreed with sending the athletes to to Europe, which naturally frustrated Lindland. The 2022 World Team training schedule had lived on an Excel spreadsheet dating back to the previous fall. It was seen as a done deal until the static between them started to increase. Additionally, Ivan had desired changing the practice times for OTC World Team camp, which, whether he knew it or not, was difficult to achieve due primarily to Greco having to coordinate with men and women’s freestyle when making the schedule.

Soon enough, those aforementioned tensions would bubble straight to the surface.

Coffee Cup-Gate

While Lindland and a batch of Seniors, eight of whom 2022 World Team members, broke for Rome midway through June, a massive U20 (Junior) camp was unfolding in Springs headed by then-OTC resident head coach Mohamed Abdelfatah and Ivan. It wasn’t as though these two gentlemen were anonymous to one another. Furthest thing from it. That did not stop them from butting heads. Repeatedly. And, the wrestlers noticed. The way it was being described, how could they not?

Word was that Mohamed and Ivan were constantly chipping at each other over technique, what to show, who was going to teach and when, etc. As for which of the two men were wrong in their behavior rested in the eye of the beholder. Ivan was, officially, the GM. The conch belonged to him and, according to his job title, it was his right to deploy training modules and expound upon various technical concepts as he saw fit. But the OTC was, and had been for several years, Mohamed’s turf. He had grown accustomed to formulating training plans and running practices. Athletes were familiar with him, as well; plus he had become especially close with a few of the OTC’s younger competitors.

Perhaps Ivan saw Mohamed’s resistance as insubordination. Mohamed might have deemed Ivan’s input as micromanagement, or toe-stepping. Either way, their dynamic during U20 camp was severely disjointed, and it was not only athletes who were bearing witness to the terse exchanges. A few volunteer youth coaches were also in attendance. One in particular put it like this: “I can understand coaches disagreeing, but these two men couldn’t just save their arguments for behind closed doors? The kids were watching everything they did.” It wasn’t a good look to newbies. On my own I had heard that Ivan and Mohamed had themselves a nice big blow-up over one thing or another, but to be fair, it failed to move my mercury.

What did raise my antennae was something else entirely that had transpired within the time-frame of U20 camp: Ivan’s displeasure with the state of the OTC wrestling room. He had taken pictures of the facility and texted them over to Lindland. An empty coffee cup on the mat and a few keeled-over Suples dummies, I guess, had drawn his ire. “Unacceptable”, that’s what the situation reportedly was to Ivan. Lindland couldn’t do much about it. He was in Italy, approximately 5,000 miles away. The only counter he offered was that programs from all three styles used the OTC room, which would have made it difficult to identify the responsible party.

It was, of course, besides the point. Lindland and all those who were privy to the back-and-forth discerned that this might have been about a whole lot more than just an empty coffee cup, or the perceived disciplinary and presentational values one might associate with a spotless wrestling room.

July 7

The average temperature of blacktop on a sunny summer day rises an exponential amount. You may have experienced this for yourself when walking from grass or a sidewalk onto the street, or when strolling through a parking lot. The dense, dark asphalt absorbs heat from sunlight and produces a radiating effect. If it is, say, 90 degrees outside with some sun, then the blacktop temp usually hovers around 115, give or take. The quality of boot you wear cannot be understated. Solid yet breathable insulation along with a thick sole can help make long summer days out in the sun much more bearable than they otherwise would be with flimsier footwear. Even if it’s a heavy boot, with a steel or composite toe, you’ll want the bulkiness because at least it staves off some of the heat from boilerplate blacktop.

Still, “bearable” should not be confused with “short”, and Thursday, July 7 was a typical long workday. We were alternating traffic up in Summit, just around the corner from Eli Manning’s house. On my break, I embarked on a quick drive to get a look at the place. Other than that little highlight, it was brutal. We had been out there all week, and by Day 4 I was drained. It was hot, in a busy area with close proximity to two highways, and the technician and I couldn’t wait to get off the road.

Finally, at around 3:45pm, we were cleared to clean up and take down our equipment. I didn’t even bother to grab a water. Just wanted us to do our jobs, get moving, and get on the Parkway since I was already staring at a 90-minute drive home. I had stuff to do 5PM-wise, as well, and that was on my mind, what with the Seniors having returned from Austria just a few days prior in time for World Team camp. So, I hopped in my work vehicle and immediately cranked the air conditioner. You know how that can take a while? Like, a few minutes, depending on how hot it is and how long your vehicle has been left sitting? I used that interim to check my phone. There were several texts but only two caught my attention.

“Have you heard this rumor about Lindland getting fired over email? Any idea how much truth there is to it?”

“Hey, did they really fire Matt?”

One phone call later the news was confirmed: Lindland was out. Mohamed, too.

Just under nine weeks before the 2022 World Championships, USA Wrestling approved the firing of their Greco-Roman National Team head coach and OTC resident head coach. Right here would be a suitable spot to insert one of those “Bold move, Cotton” memes from the movie Dodgeball, but honestly, the way this program is governed by Colorado Springs is enough of a joke already.

I didn’t speak with Lindland right away. We traded a few texts. More SMS communications from others began arriving en masse. Items of this sort tend to travel fast. Like I’ve said, Greco occupies a small circle.

It wasn’t until that evening when Lindland and I connected. He was…fine. Not the slightest hint of anger or exasperation. He had anticipated the move, or so it seemed. I was sketchy about asking how it went down, what was said, all that. But I did. The folks at USAW graciously avoided using the email method, by the way.

When Lindland inquired as to why he was being let go, Bender at first intimated that it was due to performance, which, if accurate, is quite an odd answer. In this sport, performance is often a reference to a World or Olympic event. The last “performance” on the books in July ’22 was the ’21 Worlds in Oslo, where Hancock earned bronze. So, Bender, probably, wasn’t citing that one. Nor could he have been referring to the mostly-meaningless tournament in Rome from which the Seniors had just returned. Lindland pressed the issue a little bit, because he should have, and Bender informed him that Ivan wanted to “go in a different direction”.

Whoa! Shocker!

Everyone would have been spared a lot of needless time-wasting and stupefaction if that conversation had taken place the previous January.

lindland fired by usa wrestling

HOW IT WAS COVERED: Top —  Five Point Move‘s version of Lindland’s dismissal posted on July 7, 2022 with language pointing to how it transpired (“the organization’s decision, which had reportedly been made at the recommendation of newly-installed Greco-Roman General Manager, Ivan Ivanov”).Bottom — USA Wrestling’s version posted on July 12, which thanks to an exit-package offering to Lindland was able to use the term “resigns” but does inform the audience that Mohamed Abdelfatah’s employment had also been terminated. Both articles feature the work of noted photographer Tony Rotundo, whose picture of Lindland was snapped at a press conference in Rio for the 2016 Olympic Games.

lindland usaw


That Lindland was only briefed by USA Wrestling executives just prior to the General Manager role opening for applicants speaks to a lack of transparency that has been and continues to be of great concern to the American Greco-Roman community. USAW is in no way obligated to divulge to employees the reasoning behind personnel decisions; it is also their right and responsibility to make such decisions based on what they deem is necessary both for the health and success of their programs, and consequently their organization as a whole. USAW answers to board members, sponsors, and donors. Those inside of the NGB holding positions of influence are not compelled to explain themselves to coaches and other staff members. They should start. In my estimation, the only coaches who might claim to believe that USAW acts in the best interests of Greco-Roman are those directly employed by them.

With regards to the General Manager job, USA Wrestling’s rollout of the position as well as their approach to its accompanying hiring process elevated consternation due to three main factors: expedience in the role’s formation and subsequent introduction; the unprecedented level of autonomy promised; and how quickly Ivan’s name was attached. There are some who had hypothesized that the GM position was created merely as a mechanism for USAW to dispose of Lindland, hence the “power” associated with the title. A bridge too far, likely. A more realistic posit might be that they had instead identified a potential Lindland dismissal as a byproduct, or perk, of a GM’s actions. Others insist that the GM position was created specifically for Ivan, but that is speculation. In fact, another US coach is adamant that the job was conceived with his involvement. Currently, Bickley is manning the slot.

It should be Ivan, who takes sporadic beatings throughout this piece but is, without a doubt, one of the greatest Greco minds to have ever coached in the US, if not in the history of the sport. Period. Anything less than total respect for him is insulting. Ivan was simply Ivan upon re-entry. He intended to do his job in an uncompromising fashion because that is how he has always worked. But because the reasoning for the advent of the GM position was not properly examined, conveyed, and discussed, a natural disconnect was the immediate result. There is plenty more coming up about him in Part III of this series.

As for Lindland, USAW was able to massage his exit into a “resignation”, an offering with which he agreed. So, a “forced resignation” might be the more appropriate phrasing. I maintain that Lindland should still have his job. There is no bias tethered to that statement, which for some might not be easy to believe given the tenor of our friendship. He is my Christian brother, and I care about every aspect of his life. But that’s not why my opinion is what it is.

For one thing, Lindland was exited at the peak of his popularity in the eyes of the Senior base. Go and ask around. He had also went through great pains to improve communication between himself and the athletes by instituting different protocols, and he focused on improving vital relationships within the program, most notably with Army. Most importantly, he empowered other coaches to encourage age-groupers to seek Greco on a full-time basis on a much larger scale than had ever been accomplished prior to his arrival. And because of those efforts, the US is sitting on their best crop of Senior prospects since roundabout 2005. One day — maybe sooner rather than later — we’ll deliver the final Coach Lindland’s Report that was advertised on July 7. We indeed had planned to record for that release until Lindland balked two days later. He did not wish to go on the record in fear that what he might say could become a possible distraction to the World Team.

Do you think it would have made a difference?

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Listen to “5PM053: Northern Michigan assistant Parker Betts and USMC Captain Jamel Johnson” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM52: Two-Time Olympian Jim Gruenwald” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM51: Lining up with Tanner Farmer” on Spreaker.

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