Hansen: National duals a national joke

Iowa+157-pounder+Michael+Kelly+wrestles+Luke+Frey+of+Penn+State+at+Bryce+Jordan+Center+in+State+College%2C+Pennsylvania+on+Sunday%2C+February+8%2C+2015.+Kelly+defeated+Frey%2C+7-4.+The+No.+1+ranked+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+No.+5+ranked+Nittany+Lions%2C+18-12.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FTessa+Hursh%29

"Tessa Hursh"

“Iowa 157-pounder Michael Kelly wrestles Luke Frey of Penn State at Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pennsylvania on Sunday, February 8, 2015. Kelly defeated Frey, 7-4. The No. 1 ranked Hawkeyes defeated the No. 5 ranked Nittany Lions, 18-12. (The Daily Iowan/Tessa Hursh)”

Jordan Hansen, [email protected]

Penn State and Oklahoma State will wrestle each other for the National Wrestling Coaches Association’s National Duals Championship title.

Despite being the only undefeated team not named Penn State and having beaten the Cowboys this year, Iowa doesn’t get to wrestle for a National Duals title because the Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes are both members of the best wrestling conference in the nation.

It’s a sham, it’s a miscarriage of justice, and quite simply, a joke.

The reason that they won’t is complex. The National Duals format of the recent past — numerous teams advancing in a bracket — was scrapped this year for something completely different.

Instead, the coaches’ group decided that eight Big Ten teams would host duals. The teams would be chosen based on their place in the national rankings and then matched up with a regular-season conference dual-meet champion from a non-Big Ten conference.

There’s also now one wildcard team, which fills out all 16 spots.

On the surface, there’s potential in the idea. Having teams wrestle a big-name opponent at the end of the year — much like the college football bowl system — is a good thing.

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People want to see some of the best teams go head-to-head, and in that, the coaches’ association succeeds. Iowa gets North Carolina State on Feb. 22, a team that went 22-1 this year and is coming off a win over a good Missouri team.

It will be a tough dual for the Hawkeyes, but it’s not the championship meet, the place in which they should be.

Just because the two undefeated teams are from the same conference, there’s no reason they should not be able to battle it out for any sort of title. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened in college sports (looking at you Alabama and LSU), and it probably wouldn’t be the last.

Sometimes, one conference really does have the best teams in the nation. Right now, the Big Ten is that conference. If the Big Ten is going to continue to have the best teams in the nation, the format for the National Duals needs to reflect that fact.

It’s not hard, then, to understand why so many people don’t take the National Duals seriously as a championship. In their eyes, the NCAA Championships should be the only thing to determine a national title.

However, another part of the wrestling world very much wants to make the National Duals part of deciding a national champion. It’s an argument and a philosophical difference that pervades the sport.

On one hand, wrestling is a sport that is very much individual and, of course, an athlete’s entire team is not on the mat with him when he competes. Thinking like this, it makes sense to determine a national champion through the performances of teams as they move through a bracket.

Using how a specific wrestler holds up against the best competition in the country to award a team national championship has worked for a long time.

However, having a dual meet to decide the national champion has some benefits of its own.

Dual meets are shorter than championship-style events, are more easily televised and can be incredibly exciting. Of course, that’s not to say the NCAA Championships aren’t entertaining but simply more drawn out.

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