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Fixing National Duals, Part Two

BSD's bscaff and I team up to design a new, and awesome, NCAA Wrestling National Duals. Part One is at BSD. Part Two is below. Read on!

Reese Strickland-US PRESSWIRE

Did you read part one yet? You should probably go do that, so you understand how this conversation between bscaff and I got started. It's OK, I'll wait for you.

/drums fingers on desk

/googles "Brent Metcalf kicks ass"

/watches awesome YouTube videos

Oh hey, you're back! All caught up now? Great. Let's roll on with part two of our great plan to fix the National Duals event.


I read your points and thought, 'it's kinda hard to argue with a guy that's rational, logical, and correct.' So I next thought, ' could I turn this into an ESPN-talking-head screaming match of faux controversy?' And...'wait - why on Earth would I do that?! I'll just make fun of ESPN instead'. So I google 'talking head gif', and I end up with a sweaty David Byrne. But I think it's still entirely appropriate. So here we go:

(click to make it all GIF-y)

Pittsburgh, Philly, and New York? (/silent fist pumping). Hooray for the east coast. The last three big collegiate wrestling events on the east coast were: 1) the 2011 NCAAs in Philly - sold out all three days, which was the first time that had been done since, I think, NCAAs were held at Penn State (2000); 2) the 2012 NWCA All-Star Dual at American U in DC. Tickets went on sale Wednesday afternoon, and none were available Thursday morning when I logged on to grab a pair (granted, only 3,500 seats); and 3) Grapple at the Garden (NYC), which appears to have done fairly well, despite being a first-time event with little marketing hype. Oh - and Pittsburgh? They draw several thousand to Pitt's crappy Fitzgerald Field House in March to watch a high school all-star match, the (totally awesome) Dapper Dan Classic. Pittsburgh's legit. But who wants to go to Pitt?

I get the Grapple at the Garden merger dark horse. But as an ER doctor, with a Duals patient suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, I'm voting for the safe(r) route. The safe route (excluding the horrors of Pitt) is Philly.

Philly seems like a sure bet to sell out, whether the Duals are one day or two. It's an easy travel destination. There are plenty of accommodations, sites, bars, yada, yada, yada - and there's DiNic's roast pork sammich, which was just voted best sammich in the country, kicking the hell out of Primanti Bros in the process. But irrespective of those things, the Lehigh Valley and southern Jersey (which, technically, is still Philly) bring enough wrestling fans to pack the Wells Fargo Center (the one in Philly, not the one in Des Moines) without needing a ton of Iowans to travel. Let's put it in Philly for five years, get a couple of good, premium sponsors behind it, and see if we can't make it a name event.

As to format, let's also keep it to a single day, at least for the first few years. We'll invite just six teams, and seed them to get matchups that won't occur in the regular season otherwise. Two teams get a first round bye, and the first four losers wrestleback in a semi-final / final for third place. That assures each participating team gets at least two matches, with a worst case of wrestling four matches (so, I guess we'll have morning and evening sessions). Eight duals in total (I wrote it out on paper - trust my math on this one), four in the AM, four in the PM, with all six teams participating in both sessions.

Who should those six teams be? Iowa (3), Okie State (3), Goldy (1), and Penn State (3) hold the last 10 NCAA-approved championships. I'd want those four schools to commit to participating for the first five years, and if they stutter, I'd want to know why. Assuming they're on board, then we can round out the lineup with two other teams - though I wouldn't want any more Big Ten squads. Let's take the (perceived) EIWA champ, and - wait a minute, I think - yep - I think I just had another idea.

What if one of the teams was a (lesser) conference all-star squad? The ACC All-Star squad is UNC's Kraisser, VaTech's Carter, UNC's Henderson, ....NC State's Gwiadowski at big boy? That might be too loaded. Maybe we could pull together a Western Regional all-star team, and finally get to see Steven Monk wrestle before the NCAA tournament in March?

One more idea, while I'm at it. How about we get an International Dual stuck into the center of this thing, between the morning and afternoon sessions? Those Iranians are some tough dudes. Did you catch the Rumble on the Rails? And how about the new FILA rules? Two points for a takedown. Isn't that nice.

My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought....


Yes, no need to go all full-Bayless here... it's too early in the off-season for that kind of foolishness.

I think Philly works well as a potential location, for all the reasons that you eloquently provided. I'm still intrigued by the Grapple at the Garden merger idea, if only because putting it in New York seems like a slightly better bet to draw more attention. The New York media loves to talk about things in New York, after all. The downside to doing it in New York is that it's easier to get swallowed up by everything else that's going on in the Big Apple and attendance isn't as much of a sure thing as it would be in Philly. So there are some definite concerns there.

I like the idea of seeding the teams to avoid matchups that we'd otherwise see in the regular season -- up to a point, at least. It's fine to set up the early round matchups that way, but I don't think there's any need to contort things to avoid potential rematches later on. If we're trying to crown a (meaningless, but still) winner at this event and the two best teams happen to be, say, Iowa and Oklahoma State, then I don't think it's useful to fight that. I mean, worst case scenario is that we get a potentially epic rematch between the teams 4-6 weeks later. That's not so bad. I like the rest of the format, though. Six teams is good because you can guarantee multiple matches for teams (which seems like a selling point for getting them to travel out to the event) and it should keep the quality of the teams involved pretty high.

As for the six teams involved... I'm torn. Your ideas make a lot of sense (especially the All-Star team, which I'll get back to in a moment), but at the same time it also limits the opportunity to mix things up a little bit more. For instance, what about Oklahoma? Most years they fall into that "solid, but not spectacular" category, but next year's team looks loaded with a slew of top guys coming off redshirts (Andrew Howe, Travis Rutt, Jarrod Patterson) and joining some other sharp-looking talents (like reigning 141-lb. national champion Kendric Maple). I think that's a team we'd definitely love to see in the mix here, especially since they don't have a history of competing in high-profile non-conference duals, so teams like Iowa, Penn State, and Minnesota might never see them otherwise.

On the other hand, I think you're right that we need to throw the EIWA champion a bone, especially if we're talking about holding the event in Philadelphia or New York City. Plus, it's not as though the EIWA champ is a scrub -- it seems like it's usually Cornell or Lehigh of late and they usually have a good number of studs on display. And the All-Star team idea is excellent. An ACC All-Star team or a MAC All-Star team could be really fascinating opponents in an event like this.

So here's a compromise: what if we make it so that only three of the "Big Four" (Iowa, Minnesota, Penn State, Oklahoma State) are required to be there. That gives us a little more flexibility for a sixth team and gives one of them a chance to maybe get a breather if one of them is going through a rebuilding year. (Plus, let's be honest: Oklahoma State probably isn't crazy about making annual trips out to the East Coast for this event.) So if we do that we'd have three teams from the "Big Four," the EIWA champion, a conference all-star team (and, hell, you could even mix and match from different conferences if you wanted), and a wildcard team. This year that might be someone like Oklahoma. Maybe next year it's an Ohio State team led by the senior Stiebers and loaded with whatever prime Ohio talent Tom Ryan has managed to scoop up. Hell, maybe it's even Iowa State one year -- hey, stop laughing.

And as for that international dual... I'm in, so long as we leave Greco-Roman out. The shaved bear staring contests are just a drag and if one of the goals of this event is to create new fans, then I don't think we need to include anything that's going to make them dig out their eyes with contraband grapefruit spoons. But a freestyle meet would be fine, especially given the new rules in place. Plus, who doesn't like to see Jordan Burroughs bury a fool? One caveat, though: no Iranians. I don't need them throwing cold water on my wrestling boner by whupping up on some Americans in the middle of our event. (NOTE: I reserve the right to change this condition if the new freestyle rules mean that we stop getting pwned by them.)

Alright, I think we're onto something here. Did we forget anything? That's where you come in, dear readers. If we did forget something or you have a bone to pick with our grand plan, hit the comments!