Coyote Club and Cal State University Bakersfield’s (CSUB) Wrestling program invited its grappling community to attend a sold out annual fundraiser dinner themed “New Era – Same Tradition”. This fundraiser along with a few other events assists in meeting the goal of raising $250,000 which helps sustain CSUB’s NCAA D1 wrestling program. CSUB has a proud and rich tradition spanning over four decades. Over the course of the last 40 years, CSUB wrestling has produced 45 All-Americans, 9 National Champions, and 10 Olympic/World Team Members. Pretty good results for being out of the mainstream wrestling medias focus.
This year’s “New Era – Same Tradition” dinner featured a very special Keynote speaker, legendary University of Minnesota wrestling Coach J Robinson. Coach Robinson, a San Diego native who has coached 3 national championship teams, was named NCAA national coach of the year on 4 occasions. Coach Robinson coached the only team in history to claim 10 NCAA All-Americans in one season. I’m not sure that feat will be duplicated any time soon. Ok Okie State has a 50-50 shot this year.
It was Coach J Rob, formerly of Minnesota, who surprisingly surfaced in Bakersfield with open arms from the Wrestling Community after being forced out of the troubled U of Minnesota program earlier this year. Minnesota University Officials accused Coach JRob of failure to follow university rules for trying to resolve the prescription drug trade on his team internally. Coach JRob provided subtle revelations through his public speech sharing that he had chosen his personal principles over the university’s politics in handling the Xanex abuse case.
The event honored the recipient of JRob’s coaching and mentorship, California Native Manny Rivera, who was selected as head coach of the Roadrunners this year. Manny Rivera shared his thoughts on the supportive nature of the wrestling community and coach Robinson. Rivera was an NCAA All American at Minnesota as well as a member of its 2007 NCAA National Championship team.
Also in attendance was CSUB wrestling great Stephen Neal who beat Brock Lesner at the 1999 NCAA Wrestling Championships costing Lesner his first championship. It was paradoxical when Coach JRob had the opportunity to share reflections with Stephen Neal on his most significant 1999 NCAA finals match. Neal went on to become a 2x NCAA champion, Freestyle World Champion, and 3x Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots.
I’m just glad to see JRob out again in the wrestling community. I’ve reached out to coach but he wants to keep his story to himself until the legal process is resolved. He’s been a great role model for so many I hate to see him marginalized because of campus politics. Even if he did make a mistake let’s not flush this trailblazing pioneer’s history down the toilet. We all make mistakes. A mistake trying to help someone is a lot different than a mistake trying to screw someone. Do you hear me University of Minnesota?