We found out a few weeks ago that the Iowa and Penn State athletic departments had worked to put together what the Delanybot 9000 and the rest of the Big Ten scheduling computers had torn asunder: the biggest dual meet of the season. So what if it's a non-conference meet and won't count in the Big Ten standings? (SPOILER ALERT: No one cares about the Big Ten standings for dual meet competition anyway.) It's Iowa. It's Penn State. It's going to be a great goddamn dual meet and it's fantastic that Iowa and Penn State were able to work together to make it happen.
Until I read Alex Marvez's piece about the story behind the meet getting put together, though, I didn't realize the lengths that Iowa and Penn State went to in order to make this dual meet happen:
Speaking of the Hawkeyes, to their credit, both the athletic department and school made a lot of sacrifices to make the match happen as well. Not only did women’s basketball head coach Lisa Bluder willingly re-arrange her home schedule to accommodate the wrestling program, but the school itself actually changed the schedule of a graduation ceremony to make it happen too.
Yes, that actually happened, and it shows just how important wrestling is to the folks in Iowa. It also showed how important a dual meet between the two schools was for the sport itself.
That's right: Iowa-Penn State wrestling > graduation ceremonies. Honestly, as someone who has attended a few college graduation ceremonies, this is a no-brainer: an Iowa wrestling dual, especially one as heated and exciting as an Iowa-Penn State dual, is going to be 1000x more entertaining than a graduation ceremony. That said, things like graduation ceremonies are typically arranged pretty far in advance, due to the logistics of scheduling speakers and giving family members of the graduates ample time to plan trips. The fact that Iowa would reschedule a graduation ceremony to accommodate a wrestling dual is impressive. To be clear, I suspect that Iowa is just moving the time of the commencement ceremony, not changing days; the schedule on the Registrar's Office website lists the time of the ceremony on 12/21 -- the date of the Iowa-Penn State dual -- as 9 AM. Anyone know if it was always set for that time? (And Kudos to Lisa Bluder for being willing to move the time of a women's basketball game to accommodate the Iowa-Penn State dual meet as well.)
Marvez's article also highlights the role that Twitter played in getting the dual meet to happen. To some extent, I think Twitter's role is somewhat overstated -- Tom Brands and Cael Sanderson had clearly been talking about this meet via phone and email for several months and no doubt had several conversations in the days leading up to (and during) the Twitter back-and-forth. A medium that limits statements to 140 characters isn't exactly ideal for any sort of complex negotiations, you know? On the other hand, Twitter was useful in attracting attention from fans and media, which was beneficial in two ways: the enormous positive response to Brands and Sanderson's Twitter back-and-forth probably gave Iowa and Penn State officials the extra incentive to do what they needed to do to make sure the dual meet actually happened and, frankly, it also gave college wrestling some much-needed exposure. The Marvez article in question appears on Fox Sports -- would he have felt compelled to write it up if not for the novelty of Twitter playing a role in the meet's creation? Doubtful.
In any event, good on Iowa and Penn State for making this dual meet happen. Every indication is that it wasn't easy to get this meet scheduled and sacrifices were made by both sides (Penn State is traveling to Iowa City for the second time in less than year, remember -- and doing so voluntarily, rather than at the behest of the Delanybot 9000). Well done, all. The end result should be a spectacular dual meet just a few days before Christmas.