Obe Blanc with All-American Jared Franek (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
North Dakota State's decision was quick and decisive.
And now after spending four years under Roger Kish, who recently departed to become the Head Coach at Big 12 foe Oklahoma, Obe Blanc will now be at the helm for the Bison after spending the last two seasons as the Associate Head Coach.
When Blanc made the move from Raleigh, NC where he was an assistant coach for the North Carolina State Wolfpack, to head to Fargo, ND it was to set himself up for bigger opportunities like the one in front of him now.
"I left NC State for the opportunity to be exactly where I am now," he said. "Obviously there are a lot of other factors involved when you make a move, but I wanted to be in position to lead my own program one day."
Although he hasn't been in the position for 24 hours yet, he's already called his first team meeting to speak with his guys and let them know that nothing is going to change when it comes to the expectation set for them both on and off the mat.
"Our culture is very strong and it's the No. 1 foundation of this program," Blanc said. "Academically we've had the Elite 90 Award Winner for the last two seasons and our team has finished in the top 10 with one of the highest GPAs in the country, and one year we were in the top 2. It's a staple and we will continue to have that standard."
Since Blanc joined the staff, the Bison have also seen success on the mat with Jared Franek, who won both the aforementioned Elite 90 Awards, and Michael Caliendo, an AWN All-Rookie Team selection, earning All-America honors at this past year's NCAA Championships. Both guys whose performances Blanc will look to keep building on going forward.
"We want to continue our growth in all facets. I want to build our current RTC/club to allow our student-athletes to pursue more NCAA titles, but also World and Olympic titles as well," Blanc said about his outlook for the NDSU program.
However, when there are some changes within the coaching staff at this level there are always questions of whether wrestlers will stick around under the new regime. And with the current transfer portal and NIL situation, those same speculations aren't foreign to Blanc and his new staff.
"Changes like this are a shocking thing for young guys to handle," he said. "But I let them know that I love them, and no one is getting cut or anything like that. If you're here you've been vetted. We want you here. I'm open with my student-athletes and they are open with me. They let me know what's going on. I know the sharks are always circling, looking to capitalize off of what others have built. I expected it but hopefully, our bonds can withstand any attacks."
With Blanc's ascension, he now becomes the sixth minority head coach at the division level.
"It's not really something I think about as I value character and merit the most," he said. "However, just like having All-Americans on your team, it shows other guys that something like that is obtainable. So it's good for an African-American wrestler to say 'Obe did it, I can too'."