The possibility of the National Duals determining who wins the NCAA team title is the hottest topic in wrestling right now and there are a lot of coaches on either side of the proposal. We know guys like Rob Koll and Brian Smith are for it, we heard from Missouri head coach Brian Smith as to why he is for the change. We know that guys like Cael Sanderson and Tom Brands oppose the change and the Hawkeye head coach has released a statement as to why he does not believe that this change is the best thing for the sport.
From the desk of Iowa head coach Tom Brands:
We already have both formats, we have had both formats for years. Lately there has been a push to legitimize the national duals by changing the format, dates, and qualifying structure. This change was heralded as the savior and the predictions were that record crowds would attend. We found out that the attendance was poor at the regionals and below average at the finals. Is is IMPORTANT to note this, not to throw salt in the wound, but to point out that the new structure was more of a bust then even the past structure when the duals were held in mid-January. This year Iowa reluctantly attended. It did not work, now we push to replace one of the most exciting wrestling events in the world with this concept?? What the heck? For the record: Iowa is opposed!
Comparing successful dual meet crowds with potential for a bonanza at the national duals event is not relevant. It is a fact that the number of fans are greater for regular season duals. The reason for this is that the timing for regular season duals between two wrestling titans is what brings the fervor and creates the interest from the fans. It has been proven that the national duals does not duplicate that fervor. For example: Iowa v. Okla St brought more fans in the regular season dual in 2011 and 2012 (2011: in Stillwater; 2012: in Iowa City) then the championship finals of the national duals in this years format. Look at the numbers. Nor will ESPN create fervor with a television agreement. Empty seats in the background on national tv is not fun to watch. No empty seats at the NCAA Tournament creates a wrestling event made for television that keeps getting better. We have to create the buzz, the fervor, the excitement before we change a great thing. Shooting from the hip and changing just to change is backwards.
We have tried the new format, we have tried new timing, new structure, new qualifying, new locations. It does not work well enough yet. None of these issues has been figured out well enough to run the national duals at a high level, let alone replace the NCAA Division 1 National Tournament. And we still push this agenda??
Solution: Continue to try to figure out a way an exciting dual champion can be crowned that is best for the sport and all the programs. Keep tweaking, keep working, keep at it until we get it right. Get a consensus among the majority. Are you going to tell your wrestlers bonus points do not matter anymore? You take the team race out the NCAA tournament, it will gravitate to mediocre. We have got to keep the NCAA Tournament as it is.