“April showers bring May flowers” but the storm that struck the World this past Winter and Spring brought greater changes to the human landscape than any event since World War II. The Chinese Virus killed another hundred people and damaged the health and hopes of a thousand more before you finished reading this sentence. Contextualizing Sports in general and wrestling in particular was a bridge too far for this author until the truth finally settled in. The realization that, despite all gloom and portents of impending doom, the hunger for the joy of life never ceases. However that joy is manifested. On these pages it shows itself in a celebration of the greatest sport, an appreciation of freedom in both employment and movement, and a limited but growing understanding of the gift of Bacchus. So, as this column originally stated and has not wavered from since, these news and notes on wrestling, travel, and wine.
A MODEST PROPOSAL, WITH CREDITS TO SWIFT(1) AND KOLAT(2)
The alteration of the wrestling season and the cancellation of many of its championships has given the sport an opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons. Or perhaps chicken salad out of a less palatable product. At the collegiate level certainly, where the calls for a shortened season, a dual meet championships, and a restructuring of seasonal eligibility parameters make more and more sense. Take ALL of November out of the wrestling equation. Move the CKLV, the Midlands, the Southern Scuffle and one of the Eastern tournaments(3) to a singular window beginning the Wednesday AFTER the Football Championships. Each would have approximately 16-20 teams, a manageable number. Incentivize schools to rotate among the events year to year, giving their student athletes a greater range of competition and a deeper appreciation and understanding of all the areas of the U.S. Next, 4 weeks of dual meet competition. Conference tournaments 3rd weekend of February. Current championships 2 weeks later, same 3 day format. Then, the big alteration. An 8 day, 16 team Dual Meet Championship, comprised of the teams that finished 5-20 at the 3 day tournament. First weekend, teams 5-12 host teams 13-20 across a standard draw. The 5th place team hosts the 20th place team, 6th place team hosts 19th place team, etc. The 8 winners battle each other at a bidded on site to win the Dual Meet title. The event would occur after the Final Four. Wrestling season would shorten by 20%. It would change from 11/1-3/21 to 12/15-4/14.(4) That makes for significant reductions in accumulated costs, physical as well as financial. More teams would have access to improved competition levels and would be increasing their footprint, simultaneously shrinking their expenditure windows while expanding their brand recognition. This columns author is undecided on a functional change re eligibility determination. Surely some opportunity to compete without losing a years eligibility can be agreed upon, though.
RUNNING SOME NUMBERS
So, if the Athletic Doomsayers of various Power 5 conferences are to be believed, monies lost due to major sports being moved/greatly reduced/canceled outright could exceed averages of fifty million dollars plus per school. In the case of, say, the Big10, it could mean a conference financial hit of nearly three quarters of a BILLION dollars. An insane number, to be sure. Where does all this soon to be missing money normally go? One wonders. More threatening still to our sport is the ominous scattering of assistant coaches, many of whom it seems are leaving the sport. Or at least leaving no firm news of their next destination, wrestling or otherwise. Kudos must go at this point to @KeepStanfordWrestling, a rapidly growing group of Cardinal alumni, students and fans all focused on a lofty goal: the full endowment of a mens AND women’s wrestling team for the Cardinal. Sign the Change.Org petition and, if you are financially able, please commit some cashmoney to as fine a group of student athletes as you will find anywhere.
‘QUE THE LOCAL ANGLE
At that special smoked meat meet up spot smack dab on Blanco Road in North Central San Antonio the Scribe has been blessed to cross paths with numerous wrestling notables since his return from a pandemic forced furlough. Alums from Appalachian State, Penn State, Oregon, the Citadel, Michigan, Fresno State, and others have swung by, some repeatedly, drawn by carnivorous desires and appreciation of good old S. TX. hospitality.
WINE-DING DOWN W/ THE SCRIBE:
PARDUCCI SMALL LOT PINOT NOIR MENDOCINO COUNTY 2017
80 plus years of winemaking is touted by this label, started during the Depression by Adolph Parducci and continued by his late son John (1918-2014). Though the family was ousted in the 90s the name remained, unsurprisingly since John had earned the moniker “Mr. Mendocino” for both his wine making and marketing talents. In the author’s limited but growing experience of this varietal Pinots are especially beholden to their temperature range (around 55 degrees) for full enjoyment, and this one was no different. Quite good when “in range” with an herb crusted chicken, it was less so as an overly chilled stand-alone. Once returned to its proper place on the Fahrenheit scale, it finished well with a tri-cheese plate (German Triple-cream Brie with mushrooms, Oaxaca, & a Cotswold Double Gloucester with Onions and Chives). CA wine with Mexican, German, and English cheese? The E.U. and NAFTA are both jealous.
RATING: 3 GLASSES
See you soon!
(1) The great author Jonathan Swift placed this title atop a satirical and gruesomely humorous story suggesting a novel approach to ending Middle Ages hunger. Never specified whether Post Oak or Mesquite would be better, though.
2. Cary Kolat, Navys new Head Coach, laid out a marvelous framework for the season that this author has slightly altered.
3. The Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open, the Mat Town Classic, or the Southeast Open would be fine choices. Of course, if you win the Edinboro Open, you get a full sized Claymore Sword. So theres that.
4. The NCAA D1 Committee has recently recommended a Jan. 1st start date, but has yet to provide a firm season long plan.