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Penn State wrestling: David Taylor explains decision to leave for Oklahoma State coaching role

According to Penn State wrestling legend David Taylor, the decision to leave Happy Valley and become the next head coach at Oklahoma State was about much more than personal ambition.



Penn State wrestling, David Taylor, Oklahoma State
Aug 5, 2021; Chiba, Japan; David Morris Taylor III (USA) celebrates his gold medal in the men's freestyle 86kg competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Makuhari Messe Hall A. Mandatory Credit: Mandi Wright-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most accomplished athletes in Penn State wrestling history has joined the most accomplished program in NCAA history with Oklahoma State’s hiring of David Taylor on Monday. The sport’s most significant coaching move since Cael Sanderson arrived in Happy Valley 15 years ago, Taylor’s decision to leave State College for Stillwater will likely have longstanding impacts throughout college wrestling. But the Nittany Lions icon says the decision wasn’t driven by ambition or personal glory. Officially introduced as the next Oklahoma State head coach Tuesday, David Taylor expressed that the move was driven by a desire to help others achieve their dreams.

Penn State wrestling legend explains decision to leave for Oklahoma State

David Taylor has accomplished practically everything a wrestler could want out of a career. A keystone of Cael Sanderson’s Penn State wrestling dynasty, Taylor’s four Big Ten titles, two National Championships, and two Dan Hodge Trophies helped build the Nittany Lion machine that just clinched its 11th National Championship in 13 years.

On the international stage, Taylor has won three World Championships and an Olympic Gold Medal. He had lost just one match since 2018 before falling to Aaron Brooks at Olympic Team Trials last month.

Now aged 33, the Penn State wrestling legend believes it is time to help other young wrestlers achieve the same success he’s experienced throughout his career. Officially introduced as the next head coach at Oklahoma State Tuesday, David Taylor said that the decision was driven by much more than personal ambition.

“I’ve achieved everything I have wanted in my personal career, and this is no longer about me,” Taylor said in the Cowboys’ official statement. “I am just thrilled to be in the position to help others achieve their goals, and truly make an impact in the wrestling world and on the lives around me.”

Taylor was announced as the Cowboys’ next head coach Monday night after reports surfaced over the weekend that Oklahoma State was focusing its search on the ex-Nittany Lions star. With the most team National Championships in NCAA history, David Taylor says the opportunity presented for his first coaching position isn’t lost on him.

“It’s an honor to be in this position, and I’m extremely grateful,” he expressed. “I’m looking forward to the future of Oklahoma State wrestling. It has an unbelievable tradition, and I’m excited to be part of it moving forward.”

David Taylor says goodbyes to the State College community

At the same time, David Taylor’s departure can’t come without some difficult goodbyes. On Tuesday, Pat Mineo shared an email that Taylor had circulated to the members of his M2 Training Center in Pleasant Gap.

“This has been a difficult email for me to write,” the Penn State wrestling great started. “Tomorrow will be my last practice, and I would like to say goodbye to as many of you as possible. This club has impacted my life in more ways than I can ever express, but I’m looking forward to this next chapter for our great sport of wrestling.”

We’ve yet to see the full impact that Taylor’s departure will have on Penn State wrestling and the Nittany Lions Wrestling Club. With the transfer portal closed, there is no need for concern from a roster standpoint. Many anticipate that some members of the coaching staff — primarily from the NLWC — will follow him to Stillwater. That picture will likely become much clearer in the coming days and weeks.

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Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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