The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

April 17, 2014

Turnbull’s tenure dominates WVU wrestling history

MORGANTOWN — Did Oliver Luck really do a thorough job in deeply evaluating Craig Turnbull’s 36-year career as wrestling coach before firing him?

I don’t really know. I’m just asking. You be the judge as I offer a variety of interesting facts here in today about the coach’s performance.

n Turnbull’s record for dual meets on the mat is by far the winningest in the program’s history. His teams combined for 247 victories, 214 losses, and 9 ties.

n Twenty-six of the wrestling program’s 29 All-American were protégés of Turnbull and they excelled under his guidance.

There had been just three before he took over in 1979.

n Three of the program’s five national NCAA individual champions were his recruits and performers. Greg Jones distinguished himself by becoming the only three-year title-holder in program history. The other two were Scott Collins and Dean Morrison.

n Turnbull’s team in 1990 posted a 14-1 record, clearly the best in school history. It finished No. 9, highest ever, in the NCAA Tournament, with a team total of 54 points.

n In 2002, the Mountaineers went 12-2 and placed 13th in the NCAA Tournament. Eight qualifiers contributed to that feat.

n That same year, WVU swept both regular-season and tournament championships in the Eastern Wrestling League, the main WVU attraction of interest for many, many years of the program’s existence.

n The 2003 team under Turnbull enjoyed a 9-3 dual-meet record. Then it wound up 17th in the NCAA Tournament with a record nine participants.

n Coach Turnbull was named Eastern Wrestling League Coach of the Year four times, probably another all-time record. He recently was inducted into the Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Erie (PA.) Hall of Fame.

n Turnbull was only the seventh head coach in the sport at the university and the longest service ever. Steve Harrick is next with 29 years of longevity in two different stretches. His teams won 155 dual-meets, second only to Turnbull’s 247 victories.

Harrick also filled a lengthy stretch as head baseball coach as early as the 1950’s and 60’s. His 1960 team went 30-3, clearly the most successful in WVU history.

Getting back to wrestling, Greg Jones has been “placed in charge” of the wrestling program. He has been Turnbull’s top assistant for about seven years. He did not return either of two messages left for him Thursday.

As a result, I do not know whether WVU’s most honored wrestler in history would be interested in a possible opportunity to succeed his coach if offered the job.

In announcing the dismissal of Craig Turnbull, athletic director Luck said a national search would be started.

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