Dan Gable speaks at the United 4 Wrestling event in 2013 (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)"It was in the late '80s, early '90s and what I tried to do was set up a match at halftime of a football game," Gable told the Davenport (Iowa) Grid Club Monday, the Quad City Times reported Tuesday.
"I worked on setting up a deal to have (former Iowa Hawkeye) Royce Alger and Iowa State's Kevin Jackson come out and wrestle in front of that kind of a crowd. Both of them were still wrestling after their college careers and I thought it would be great exposure for our sport."
Gable still likes the idea of grappling on the gridiron ... and thinks next month's dual between the Hawkeyes and Cowboys will be good for wrestling. After all, both are storied mat programs that together own the vast majority of NCAA Division I wrestling team titles ... and both are expected to be ranked in the top five nationally for the 2015-16 season.
"Both teams have the right guys coaching their teams to make it work," Gable said. "Tom Brands and John Smith both have an understanding of how this can help our sport or they wouldn't have agreed to it."
The 1972 Olympic gold medalist wrestler and two-time NCAA champ for Iowa State realizes that the participants must prepare for the unique demands of wrestling outdoors in Iowa in mid-November. Not just potential issues with the weather and temperature (average high in Iowa City on Nov. 14 is 50 degrees; low: 31) ... but also the number of fans in attendance, expected to be thousands more than a typical dual meet at Carver-Hawkeye Arena or Gallagher-Iba Arena at Oklahoma State.
"They can't just throw guys out there and have them wrestle," said Gable. "Both Tom and John will have to have their kids ready mentally. Coming out into whatever the conditions are, in front of that size of a crowd, it's going to be different. Those guys will have to get their kids to understand that and deal with it."
"It's a different mentality. To have 10 matches in that kind of environment, I think it's going to be a pretty cool deal," Gable continued. "I'm glad that it's happening at Iowa. It probably should have happened about 20 years ago but we couldn't quite pull it off."
Weather permitting, it appears that the college dual-meet attendance record will be shattered, judging by just-released ticket sales information. The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported Tuesday that approximately 28,000 seats had already been sold for next month's Grapple on the Gridiron at Iowa City. The current NCAA record for attendance at a college dual is 15,996, set at Penn State in 2013 for the Pittsburgh-Penn State meet at the Bryce Jordan Center.
If rain, snow or cold makes it impossible to hold the event outdoors at Kinnick Stadium, the dual will be moved inside to Carver-Hawkeye, with the first 15,000 ticket purchasers guaranteed a seat for the Iowa-Oklahoma State meet. The remaining ticket-buyers would get a chance to attend another Iowa home dual.