COLUMBUS, Ohio - After 27 successful seasons produced 292 victories as a collegiate men's soccer head coach, 21 of those as the most-winningest coach in Ohio State men's soccer history with 206 wins, John Bluem has announced his retirement Monday. Bluem is retiring effective April 30, 2018.
Bluem has a list of accomplishments that has been nothing short of impressive: four Big Ten titles, four Big Ten Coach of the Year Awards, 17 Major League Soccer draft picks and all 10 of Ohio State's appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including the 2007 College Cup.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the men's soccer coach these past 21 years and I would like to thank Gene Smith and Shaun Richard for their support and leadership," Bluem said. "I would like to express my sincerest gratitude and appreciation to all of the players I have had the opportunity to coach and develop relationships with. I will treasure the memories we have shared together for the rest of my life. To all the athletic department staff who have supported the men's soccer program, I have always been amazed by the quality of your work and your dedication toward creating an exceptional experience for our student-athletes. I have greatly enjoyed getting to know the alumni of this elite program and appreciate your support and friendship. Finally, I would never have been able to achieve any of this without the support of my wife Bethany, and my children William and Amy."
— OhioStateMensSoccer (@OhioState_MSOC) March 21, 2018
The most successful era in Ohio State soccer began 21 years ago when Bluem took over the reins of a program that finished above .500 just twice in the previous decade. In his first season, Bluem took that team to an 11-7-2 record and its first appearance in a Big Ten title game, accomplishments would serve merely as a preview of what was to come. In 27 seasons as collegiate head coach, Bluem's teams won 10 games 19 times - 13 at Ohio State - and he took his teams to the NCAA Tournament in 14 seasons. In addition to his 2007 College Cup squad, his 1996 Fresno State team advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals and his 2004 and 2015 OSU teams went to the Round of 16. In 2007, Ohio State went 17-4-5 overall, shut out Indiana twice, won its second Big Ten championship and won three NCAA tournament games at home to advance to the College Cup, where a 1-0 win over Massachusetts extended the Buckeyes' unbeaten streak to 15 games. A 2-1 loss to No. 1 Wake Forest in the national title game ended the string, but Bluem had taken Ohio State to the national stage like never before.
"During John's tenure as our head men's soccer coach he has positively impacted hundreds of young men," Gene Smith, Senior Vice President and Wolfe Foundation Endowed Athletics Director said. "Buckeye nation appreciates his commitment and dedication to leading the right way."
Bluem also has guided Buckeye teams to the postseason in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2014. Under Bluem, Ohio State won outright Big Ten championships in 2000, 2007, 2009, 2015 and won a share of the league regular-season title in 2004, while taking the tournament crown in 2007 and 2009. In nine of the last 14 years, the Buckeyes finished either first or second in the league's regular-season race in a conference that is annually in the Top 3 of the RPI league index. The four Big Ten titles and Big Ten Coach of the Year Awards (1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014), are second only to Jerry Yeagley in conference history, bringing his career total conference coach of the year honors to seven.
A 2002 entrant into the Hartwick College Hall of Fame, Bluem is Ohio State's all-time wins leader with a 206-161-58 (.553) record in Columbus. His career record, which includes six seasons at Fresno State, stands at 292-191-70 for a .591 winning percentage and a Top 50 position among active NCAA coaches in both number of victories and percentage.
In Bluem's time at Ohio State, the program has produced...
• Four All-Americans
• Two Senior CLASS Award Winners
• Two Big Ten Players of the Year
• Four Big Ten Defensive Players of the Year
• One Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year
• Four Big Ten Freshman of the Year
• 21 All-Big Ten Tournament selections
• 31 First Team All-Big Ten selections
• 48 Second Team All-Big Ten selections
• Six Big Ten Distinguished Scholars
• 191 Academic All-Big Ten selections
• 17 MLS Draft Picks
Prior to Ohio State...
At Fresno State, Bluem averaged 14 wins per season and qualified for NCAA postseason play in four of his six years as mentor. His 1996 squad posted a 17-5-1 record, won the first Western Athletic Conference title and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament, ending the season with a No. 7 national ranking.
After his collegiate career as a fullback at traditional soccer power Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y., Bluem was drafted by Tampa Bay Rowdies of the North American Soccer League, a team that went 16-6 and won the Soccer Bowl his first year. He played for two seasons with Tampa Bay.
Bluem earned his master of arts in physical education from the University of Akron in 1984. He received his bachelor of science in secondary education from Ohio State in 1980 after completing a bachelor of arts degree in history from Hartwick College in 1975.
Buckeye Greats look back on Bluem's remarkable coaching career...
"I am forever grateful to John Bluem for making me an Ohio State Buckeye. Without him, this would have never been possible for me and being a Buckeye was the greatest experience of my life. Together we helped Ohio State men's soccer win its first Big Ten regular season and tournament championship, first NCAA Tournament appearance and first NCAA Tournament victory. John was like a father to me; guiding me to be the best student-athlete I could be while simultaneously teaching me how to be a good man, husband and father. It is truly a sad day for Ohio State men's soccer as we say goodbye to the greatest coach this program has seen. There is no way to truly express my thanks and gratitude for everything John has done for myself, the men's soccer program and The Ohio State University. I wish him all the best in his retirement; no one has earned it more!"
- Justin Cook, 1999-04, 2015 Ohio State Hall of Fame Inductee, South Carolina men's soccer assistant coach
"John guided the program into new territory posting unprecedented accomplishments not seen before and as a proud alum, former assistant coach on his staff and on behalf all Buckeyes, I say thank you."
- Jon Lowery, 1996-98, St. Thomas men's soccer head coach
"Congratulations to John on a tremendous coaching career and all the success he's had over the years. I would like to thank him for taking a chance on me and giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to play for him at Ohio State. There are moments in my life that I know were critical to getting me to where I am today, and him asking me to play at Ohio State was one of those moments. I know am just one of many who will be forever grateful for being able to call you coach."
- Tony Earp, 1999-02, member of 2000 Big Ten championship team
"Bluem's tenure at Ohio State has left behind some of the best years in the program's history. He understood what it took to be successful in the gritty yet technical Big Ten Conference that continues to improve each year. He should be proud to pass the torch on to the next generation of leadership of the men's soccer program and I'm excited to see how future programs build on his accomplishments. I'm always thankful for the relationships developed during my four years as a player and two years a volunteer coach and my hope is that future coaches continue to support the culture that created a family and drove success on and off the field."
- Matt Gold, 2007-10, member of four straight NCAA Tournament Teams, including 2007 College Cup
"Coach Bluem took a chance on me when very few others would. I would not be where I am today without him. His record and reputation within college soccer speak for themselves. I wish Coach Bluem the very best and a happy and healthy life. He will be a Buckeye for life for good reason. Thank you, John."
- Matt Lampson, 2009-12, Minnesota United FC goalkeeper
"Coach Bluem certainly had a great career as the head coach of Ohio State men's soccer. He taught me some invaluable lessons during my time in the program and led us to some great successes. He left his mark on Ohio State and college soccer in general, and I feel fortunate to have been a part of it."
- Zach Mason, 2012-2015, 2015 Senior CLASS Award Winner, Bowling Green men's soccer assistant coach
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