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Penn State Wrestling

Aaron Brooks: Pair of Penn State Wrestling Greats Quality Options to Replace Jimmy Kennedy

Photo by NCAA: Nick Lee

Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson has a decision to make over this offseason.

The wrestling world was shocked earlier this month when Oklahoma State hired Penn State legend David  Taylor to succeed the legendary John Smith as head coach.

Time will tell the full impact of this move which could change college wrestling history. But it’s already changed Penn State’s coaching staff.

Taylor hired his brother-in-law and former Penn State wrestling assistant Jimmy Kennedy as associate head coach. He also hired Thomas Gilman, who wrestled at Iowa but trained with Nittany Lion Wrestling Club, as an assistant.

Now, Penn State has an opening. One of the best in Penn State history, Aaron Brooks, gave his two cents.

“I think Nick Lee or Zain (Retherford) would be really cool,” Brooks said on the Baschamania podcast hosted by Justin Basch.

Either Lee or Retherford would make sense for a number of reasons.

For one, both were Penn State wrestling stars in their own right.

Lee was a four-time All-American and two-time national champ.

Retherford is in the discussion for best wrestler in Penn State history. He and Taylor are the only two in Penn State history to win two Hodge Trophies— wrestling’s Heisman— and two of just six in history to accomplish that feat.

It would also make sense considering Kennedy worked with lightweights (125-141) at Penn State.

Lee wrestled at 141 in college, Retherford 149, so both are at least in the range where they can work with lighter wrestlers.

“Because they wrestled the weight, you know,” Brooks said. “I think Nick and Zain would be really good coaches. They really care about the guys, so I think those two are really good guys. Those are honorable men. If I had to, it’s not my decision, but if I had to [it would be one of them].”

It seems unlikely that Retherford— who beat Lee twice in a best-two-of-three at 65 KG at the Olympic Trials in Happy Valley last month— would be hired by Penn State considering he’ll be wrestling in the Olympics this summer.

Lee, on the other hand, seems to be a strong candidate.

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