The coach-to-wrestler relationship is tight. It's a bond forged by sweat, competition and love for one of the world's most traditional sports. But for Oklahoma's Mark Cody and Bubby Graham, that connection runs even deeper.
Cody, the second-year Sooners' coach, and Graham, the No. 5-ranked 165-pounder, began their connection on the American University wrestling team four years ago. When Cody had the opportunity to take over at OU, Graham followed suit and became a Sooner himself.
The Big 12 Duals and Championships this Friday and Saturday at Gallagher-Iba Arena will mark the duo's final regular-season action together.
“He's not just close to me; he's close to my whole family,” Cody said. “That really helped in the transition coming out here. He was one of the pioneers for that program at American University. To have him come here and take on that same role, trying to get to where we want to be, he's just really helped us build a great foundation and a great future for this program.”
The foundation Cody referenced is something that's not built by just wins. It's about branding a program that represents what's right about college athletes. Something Cody believes is embodied by Graham.
“He's everything a coach would want in an athlete,” Cody said. “He's a 4.0 student, he's a great person and he does whatever you ask of him. He buys 100 percent into what our staff is trying to get across every day.”