Each year, the NCAA hosts 330 of the nation’s top wrestlers to clash for a National Championship. These individuals from various colleges throughout the nation compete against one another to reach a common goal. So why can’t we put team versus team? Why can’t we make dual meets more valuable?
A dual meet championship would bring in a variety of new fans who don’t have the advantage of watching wrestling meets. It could spark an interest not only to known wrestling fans, but to the interest of younger athletes on the fence about trying new sports. Allowing dual meets to grow into something bigger could gain a positive out reach for the wrestling community.
Each year Division One teams wrestle in a number of duals depending on their schedule. Over the past year the NCAA saw its ratings dip to a six year low for its championship medal round while Big Ten Network (BTN) had record setting numbers with its dual meet and championship coverage. Wrestling overall must find a way to bring coverage to all conferences and schools on a national stage for dual meets. By adding a championship of its own, wrestling has the potential to climb back inside the tops among live sports.
With football’s current division one championship system, wrestling could build a system based off of a similar model. By learning the ins and outs of college football’s post-season playoffs, starting an unaffiliated Championship with NCAA oversight could be a good starting point. A selection of the top eligible teams could come down from a committee of coaches, athletic directors, and/or conference commissioners.
“Like the BCS, the college football postseason is not managed by the NCAA. Rather, it is managed by the 10 FBS conferences. While the 10 conferences have a seat at the table, it is widely believed that the 5 power conferences (SEC, Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten, ACC) have the majority of decision making power.” (Link)
Going back over the last nine years of dual team rankings, I made a chart of the top 12 ranked schools each season to see who could have been involved had this competition occurred. Over that timespan, Mizzou would be a consensus top five team making them a viable option to take home a trophy or team title as a dual meet competitor. (WrestleStat)
While there are many sources that could host this event, a company such as FloWrestling or Rudis could have their first crack at hosting and streaming such an event. FloWrestling has become a nationwide platform for subscribers and viewers to watch wrestling all around the world. Rudis has become a national wrestling brand, most recently known for hosting “The Super Match” , which featured former Mizzou wrestling idol J’den Cox. The opportunity to have their brand on a national stage could give them - as well as multiple wrestling programs - more exposure to the nation.
How do you keep the structure of the NCAA wrestling season without having to shuffle scheduling for dual meet championship? A simple solution of putting it shortly after the NCAA division one championships. Putting it post-NCAAs will allow coaches and schools to better prepare for the future such as weight management, overnight stays, and traveling as well as following the rules and guidelines put forth by the NCAA for student-athletes.
The revenue shares would be dispersed appropriately amongst the competing schools and other companies involved. As the championship becomes more established, the revenue shares and overall attraction of the tournament will develop, giving it the potential to gain more viewers and interest, making it a popular event to watch or attend.
Introducing a national dual meet championship could have many speed bumps getting started, but it’s something the wrestling world will fall in love with. Seeing the top programs in the nation battling it out head-to-head to become the top dual team would be a thrill. The environment and atmosphere in which fans experience will be electric. Wrestling is a very overlooked sport most in part to its national exposure. Adding an extra event of this caliber would open the nation’s eye to something that’s been around for years.