The Trib-Review threw in a quick wrestling note this week that I hadn’t seen until Pitt Blather mentioned it. Apparently, Pitt wrestling coach Keith Gavin was named as the Amateur Wrestling News Rookie Coach of the Year.
Now, Pitt was only 4-11 so that seems like sort of a head-scratcher. That’s especially true because, while Pitt had problems at several weights, they had four pretty solid wrestlers that were either ranked for much of the year (Ryan Solomon, Nick Zanetta, and Dom Forys) or, in the case of Taleb Rahmani, was a returning ACC champion.
The Panthers did not have a great dual meet season and the postseason was pretty rotten, too. Pitt was last at the ACC championships and no individuals excelled at the NCAA championships.
The 4-11 record might look more impressive if Pitt had come off of a worst year, I suppose. But the Panthers were 11-5 the year before and hadn’t been under .500 since 2008-09 when they were 4-7-1. You have to go back to 1990-91 when Pitt was 4-12 to find a season with a lower winning percentage. And when you throw in some of the embarrassing losses this year, it just wasn’t a great season.
Some of this was not Gavin’s fault, of course. The team had a lack of quality depth at several weights and also lost one of its best wrestlers before his arrival as Teshan Campbell transferred to Ohio State. And to his credit, Gavin did upset a No. 18 Oklahoma team and win a pair of ACC duals against Duke and Virginia. But still, it seemed like a strange honor.
My first instinct was to try to find the other candidates and I’m guessing there just weren’t a ton of rookie head coaches out there. I tried to find more info but mostly came up empty.
None of this is meant as a slight to Gavin, of course, who seems to be doing a good job getting the attention of local recruits, something that’s been sorely missed. He’s also managed to get some promising transfers (though Kellan Stout had a tough year) and, overall, I’m pretty excited about the direction the team is headed. You just don’t typically see a Coach of the Year label given to a coach that had such a down record.