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IOWA WRESTLING TO HOLD OUTDOOR DUAL MEET AT KINNICK?

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Let's get ready to rrrrrrrumble... outside?

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

I mean... that's certainly the impression one would get from a tweet like this:

That would be a tweet from the Iowa wrestling program (@Hawks_Wrestling) with a date (11.14.15) and a background that sure looks like a football field (Kinnick).  2+2 = bundle up, wrestlers?

An outdoor dual meet at Kinnick Stadium is an idea that's been kicked around for a few years (and probably longer than that), although it's an idea fraught with logistical concerns.  For one, the wrestling season runs from mid-to-late November to mid-March -- which is often not exactly a great time to be outside in Iowa.  Weather-wise, you're really only left with the chance to be outside at the very beginning of the season or the very end of the season.  The end of the season is a non-starter since the wrestling world is busy with conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament.  The beginning of the season is complicated by the fact that Kinnick's primary tenant also has games to play in mid-to-late November.

That said, that problem is an easier one to solve -- football occupies one day a week at Kinnick, but that's about it.  Of course, the day this tweet is referring to (11.14.15) happens to be one of those days that Kinnick is occupied by football (vs Minnesota), but that game is also a night game (scheduled to kick off at 7 PM CT).  Maybe we're looking at a day-night doubleheader with wrestling in the afternoon and football in the evening?

There are more questions from an event standpoint.  Obviously, it can be a bit chilly in mid-November in Iowa.  That's probably not a huge deal for spectators -- they're already accustomed to sitting outside to watch football in chilly temps -- but what about the wrestlers themselves?  On the other hand, they make heaters and big warm coats and, hell, guys could just hang out near the locker rooms until it was time to wrestle and then run out to the mat (I'm thinking of "the Swarm" here, only with one dude instead of 90+ football players, of course).  It could even increase the spectacle.  And maybe this will incentivize guys to actually go out and wrestle -- stalling just makes you colder (The only real event concern I'd have is sightlines for spectators -- it would seem like they could be pretty far from the action, but until we get a better sense of how things will be laid out, it's hard to know for sure.)

And that's really what this is all about: spectacle.  Creating a big, splashy event that draws attention to wrestling.  College wrestling has the tournament side of things down cold -- Midlands, the Southern Scuffle, the Big Ten Tournament, and (of course) the NCAA Tournament -- are spectacular events, chock-full of more great wrestling than anyone could possibly take in.  But they can also be totally overwhelming (it's easy to find your attention pulled in five different directions when you're at an event with action on multiple mats) and not necessarily the most viewer-friendly event for more casual fans.  Dual meets are easy: two teams going mano a mano at ten different weight classes.  Add up the points earned from each match and declare a winner -- boom.  It's a format much closer to a typical sports experience than a tournament; it's also a much smaller time commitment.  Dual meets are done in about two hours, whereas tournaments... uh, tournaments can take just a bit longer.  Hey, it's not like you had anything else to do that weekend, right?

USA Wrestling has had great success with their Beat the Streets event in Times Square, but there's a big difference between holding an outdoor wrestling event in May (like Beat the Streets) and holding an outdoor wrestling event in November (like this).  There's also a slight difference in holding an event like that in New York City and, uh, Iowa City.  But Iowa has the largest and most passionate set of wrestling fans in the country, so if anyone could pull this off, it's probably them.  Doing this event the same day as an Iowa football home game (against Minnesota) -- a game that should draw one of the better crowds of the season (#FreeFloyd) -- is also a smart move, since it ensures that there will be plenty of Iowa fans in the area.

It will be very interesting to see who Iowa has lined up as an opponent for this event.  There's no point in doing something like this if you don't have a pretty big-time opponent in store -- novelty will get some people out no matter what, but putting an Iowa City Duals-caliber opponent on the mat opposite Iowa is a guaranteed way to kneecap interest.  We already know that Iowa isn't facing Ohio State (or, unfortunately, Penn State) in the Big Ten conference schedule this year; this would be a great opportunity to rectify those wrongs and create a huge non-conference dual meet -- and challenge for the dual meet attendance record that Penn State has snatched away from Iowa (a record that I strongly suspect Iowa would love to regain).  I've also heard rumors that Minnesota could be the opponent, creating a giant Iowa-Minnesota rivalry weekend hullabaloo.  UNI would also be an interesting option -- Iowa and UNI haven't wrestled in a non-conference dual for several years and the Panthers have continued to improve under former Iowa assistant Doug Schwab.  That dual would be big for wrestling fans in Iowa, although it might not hold a ton of widespread appeal.

This tweet was a tease and there's sure to be more news coming.  (Per Friend of the Pants K.J. Pilcher at The Gazette, a news conference is planned for next week to release Iowa's wrestling schedule; presumably any outdoor dual will also be discussed as part of that schedule.  Although, frankly, this is a big enough deal that it could easily warrant its own press conference...) But even based on what little we know at the moment, this seems like it could a very cool idea and a nice idea of outside-the-box thinking by Iowa athletics.  We'll follow up on this story when more information becomes available.