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No. 1 Penn State Wrestling Dual Champions

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A quick look at the Wrestling BCS, and assorted other thoughts.

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We can dispense with the tomfoolery now. Penn State’s a unanimous No. 1. The Lions went on the road - again - and physically destroyed another highly ranked team - again. This last one was for all the marbles, the Dual Championship, and Penn State overcame adversity in the form of injury (to 125lb lead-off Nick Suriano) and insult (horrible home-cooked officiating), and simply beat the stuffing out of No. 2 Oklahoma State, 27-13.

That was the official score, 27-13. Unofficially, it was 36-4. It was a complete and total obliteration of a very tough Cowboys squad, on their home mat, in front of what was the largest crowd ever assembled at Gallagher-Iba arena. Ever, for anything. Jon Bon Jovi and Grave Digger monster trucks couldn’t pull ‘em in like this.

The BCS Duals Results

Away Home Attendance
#1 Penn State - 27 #2 Oklahoma State - 13 14,056
#6 Nebraska - 15 #5 Virginia Tech - 22 1,295
#15 Michigan - 15 #7 NC State - 23 ????
#4 Ohio State - 18 #8 Cornell - 19 4,473
#10 Rutgers - 10 #11 Lehigh - 23 1,553
NR Purdue - 20 #17 South Dakota State - 19 1,122
NR Indiana - 21 #20 Appalachian State - 12 ????
#3 Iowa - 28 #23 Edinboro - 9 2,135

Other Completely Random, Totally Useless Thoughts

1) Penn State’s wrestled 7 of the top 11 nationally, and beaten them all by a combined score of 213 to 73. Your Nittany Lions wrestled #2, #3, #4, and #6 on the road, without 10% of its starting lineup - and beat them by a combined score of 112 to 50.

Penn State is pretty good.

2) These regular season duals are drawing impressive crowds, by the way. As noted above, Oklahoma State set their personal best at 14,059. When PSU travelled to Iowa City, they beat the Hawkeyes in front of 14,311. In Columbus, OH, Tan Tom Ryan - for whom duals don’t matter - got a new attendance record as well, with 15,338 watching PSU kick the snot out of the Buckeyes, 32-12. Penn State wrestled Lehigh at the BJC in front of 15,424.

To put those numbers into a bit of context - prior to 2012, Carver Hawkeye was the only venue in the US of A to draw more than 13k for a home dual. Now? Well, it’s not exactly commonplace yet, but 4 different schools did it just this year.

3) And don’t get put out by the attendance figures in the table above. Those are very good marks, within context. Cornell’s 4k represents packing full their biggest on-campus house. Tim Flynn and Edinboro packed ‘em in to their small gym for Iowa. VaTech, Lehigh, and SDSU each had impressive crowds, as well, for their particular gyms.

4) Which leads us, briefly, to 2 conclusions. The first is this: the BCS format was a roaring success when measured against its original goal: draw crowds. In the two years prior to this BCS format, Minnesota and Ohio State hosted the old bracket-style format, with 16 teams, and couldn’t draw even 2,000 either year. Cornell, Edinboro, Lehigh are beating them for single duals.

5) The second is this: any coach who is still crying for a bracket-style dual format to become the official NCAA Championship, after the results of the last 4 seasons, ought to be blindfolded, tied to a post, and shot. It’s really that simple. There is not one single thread of evidence from these last 4 seasons even to hint that a bracket-style dual championship that replaces the NCAA Championship is the way to go. Every piece of experienced data suggests the opposite.

Every. Single. One. To wit:

>The “BCS Bowls” format - which every person in America is predisposed to hate because it was borrowed from college football - trounced the life out of the bracket-style in paid attendance. Ran laps around it.

>The actual NCAA Championship has grown in attendance and TV viewership by double-digits every year, for half a decade.

>Every single D1 wrestling school has participated in the NCAA Championship in the last 10 years. Twenty-five different schools have placed in the national top 10 - and all but 3 have landed an All-American (68 of 71). 96% of coaches have something to brag to their Athletic Directors about in the last decade. That’s access.

>By contrast, in the 21 years from 1989 - 2009, only 72% (51/71) were even invited to “National Duals”, the bracket format. Just over half (52%) ever won a single match in the 21 years of competition. Less than one-third ever placed. That’s the opposite of access.

In case it needs to be stated clearly: you can’t “grow the sport” by closing the door to the top.

Take a look at where the new and returning wrestling programs are coming from, for crying out loud. It’s not the “Power 5” programs. Auburn and Oregon are not bringing back wrestling. The Texas Longhorns aren’t adding it.

Instead, the actual “growth” that everyone cries about has come from Fresno State, Utah Valley, South Dakota State - i.e., not P5, not awash in a swimming pool of football cash. Do you think those schools add wrestling if they’re significantly hindered from competing by a ridiculous 16-team bracket?

If this argument was a wrestling match, then unbiased officials would have slapped the mat on the bracket advocates. They’re decked by the data. Actually, they’ve been pinned four times in a row, after they first fell behind 14-0. Their arguments are the equivalent of a 4th place sectional high schooler wrestling Jason Nolf, or Bo Nickal. They’re not even remotely close to scoring an offensive point.

6) The broadcast? Ugh, the broadcast. Yes, the Championship was an issue this year, because FloWrestling is continuing to transition from “frat guys pirating video and streaming it illegally”, and into “we’re (sort of) running a business here”. It’s a transition which, I suspect, has just been greatly helped along by a serious kick in the pants from this Sunday’s failure.

Apart from Flo, though, Cornell-Ohio State was free to watch via TrackWrestling. Nebraska-VaTech, and Michigan-NC State were free on ESPN3. Rutgers-Lehigh, I believe, was free as well (via Track, or the Patriot League - I can’t remember which). And when Big Ten schools host, you’ve got the BTN, of course. So the broadcast situation really isn’t in a bad place at all - particularly if Flo can figure out how to innernet like the rest of us.

7) Ideally, the coaches will agree to continue this BCS format with a longer-term contract. There aren’t many things to iron out, really. And that multi-year stability would allow folks like Mike Moyer to find title sponsors for each of these “bowls”. It’s the natural next step to the design, and one that would finally put an end to the incessant “what about National Duals?” refrain. If you can’t sway them with concrete facts, then maybe money will do the trick. I suspect that it would.