Controversy stirs up interest in NWCA National Duals

Virginia Tech won't be wrestling at the University of Iowa as part of the 2016 NWCA National Duals Championship Series this Monday, Feb. 22 ... and that has Hokies head wrestling coach Kevin Dresser accusing the Hawkeye coaching staff of conspiring with the National Wrestling Coaches Association to make sure North Carolina State was selected as Iowa's opponent instead of Dresser's team.

Kevin Dresser coaches Joey Dance in the NCAAs against Iowa's Thomas Gilman (Photo/John Sachs,
Dresser shared his anger with wrestling journalist and broadcaster Jason Bryant on the Inside Virginia Tech Wrestling podcast posted on Wednesday.

For the first 15 minutes or so of the interview, Bryant and Dresser discussed Virginia Tech's 19-14 defeat of NC State in Raleigh on Friday, Feb. 12. Then the upcoming National Duals became the focus.

"I think Virginia Tech should be wrestling in Iowa," said Dresser. "We're excited about wrestling Michigan. It's a quality program, and a tremendous honor. It will be a good war ..."

Then Dresser shifted to what might have been: a Hokies vs. Hawkeyes battle.

"The NWCA dropped the ball big-time. I've been a (NWCA Executive Director) Mike Moyer fan and to a degree I still am but I've lost a lot of respect for how this went down."

"We should be in Iowa City. Nothing against NC State but the process was described one way and it never happened the way it was explained."

In determining matchups for the 2016 National Duals Championship Series, the NWCA used the rankings from the USA Today/NWCA Division I Coaches Poll for Feb. 15, 2016. Penn State and Iowa took the top two spots in the rankings, with perfect records of 15-0 and 16-0, respectively. Oklahoma State was ranked third, with a 12-2 record. NC State was No. 4 with a 22-1 mark, followed by 15-2 Virginia Tech being ranked fifth (despite the outcome of their dual meet last Friday).

Live blogger Britt Malinsky -- known on wrestling message boards as SetonHallPirate on forum -- posted this message on that website's discussion group: "There wasn't a vote, but there certainly was consensus. The vote was taken by the coaches on the NWCA/USA Today Coaches' Poll, and that vote had North Carolina State TWELVE POINTS ahead of Virginia Tech. (for those wondering, each coach votes 1-25, 25 points for first, 24 for second, 23 for third, and so on down to 1 for 25th) ..."

Ranking methodology aside, Dresser maintains that he thinks the Hokie-Hawkeye matchup would have been more appealing to fans that the Wolfpack-Hawkeye dual that will take place this weekend.

"I think most wrestling fans thought we should be wrestling Iowa ... Do Iowa fans want to see NC State wrestle? Iowa doesn't want to lose to us. This team had a chance to beat Iowa," said Dresser.

"There's a lot of history between Iowa and Virginia Tech. Some other coaches have said Iowa wanted to avoid wrestling us ..."

While there's considerable discussion as to whether the Hawkeyes were indeed trying to avoid taking on the Hokies, there's little disputing Dresser's comment regarding history between the mat programs of Iowa City and Blacksburg ... in a number of ways. For starters, Dresser is a native of Humboldt, Iowa (hometown to early 1900s professional wrestling legend Frank Gotch, whose fame and mass appeal helped launch amateur wrestling programs throughout the U.S.) who wrestled at University of Iowa, and in fact served as an assistant coach to Dan Gable.

Mike Zadick in his first season on the Virginia Tech coaching staff (Photo/Tony Rotundo,
Dresser isn't the only former Hawkeye mat star on the Virginia Tech coaching staff. Former Iowa wrestlers Mike Zadick and Derek St. John also coach the Hokies.

Then there's the situation from a decade ago, where current Iowa head coach Tom Brands left the helm at Virginia Tech, taking with him some prize recruits, including Brent Metcalf, Jay Borschel, Joe Slaton and Dan LeClere. The mass departure put the Hokie wrestling program in jeopardy at the time ... but VT school administrators exacted a form of revenge by refusing to release these wrestlers from their scholarships, costing them a year of eligibility.

A decade later, it appears there may still be some bad blood on the part of at least one of the head coaches of the two programs.

By contrast, in response to Dresser's comments, Tom Brands said the following, as shared by Andy Hamilton on Twitter: "My memories of Kevin Dresser are that he won a national championship in 1986 right here at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. I was a junior in high school and that was my birthday present. That was a big deal for me. He was always someone I looked up to. When he was coaching high school, he was a great coach and he hired me to do clinics. If there is any controversy with the National Duals it's that Iowa should be wrestling Penn State for the national championship."

Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan, a former Hawkeye wrestler, also got into the discussion with this message on Wednesday evening, shared in a separate article at the Saturday Night Ride blog: "Amazing this is still being discussed. A panel of 10 coaches rank coaches each week. On Valentine's Day eve from 5 p.m.-11 p.m., a committee got on a call to finalize dual match-ups. The committee voted that we would follow the protocol in the contract sent to teams. That stated that the final coaches poll would determine the big bowls and "common sense" could be used for lesser bowls. The rankings came in at 9 p.m. EST as follows: PSU, IA, OK ST, NC STATE and VTECH. The top bowls were then set, NC STATE to IOWA, OK STATE to PSU. Tough call as all sides have argument."

Coach Ryan later responded directly to the Saturday Night Ride blog with this Tweet: "Who cares who coaches wanted to or didn't want to wrestle. Contract said final coach rank trumps all. So it did!"

Whether the college wrestling community buys into Kevin Dresser's argument that the University of Iowa was afraid to wrestle Virginia Tech at the 2016 National Duals -- setting the stage for the Hawkeyes to face the NC State Wolfpack -- one thing is certain: the controversy certainly has stirred up considerable interest in the event ... which can't be bad for the sport.


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Boost230 (2) about 5 and a half years ago
Silly format where 2 undefeated teams ranked 1 and 2 don't meet no matter what. No way this is a dual meet championship of any sort and that's a shame.
PaGopher (1) about 5 and a half years ago
Seems like a no-brainer to me. Should be Penn State vs Iowa, and Okla St vs VT as the 2 major bowls. How can there be a champion as it stands now!
Backonyourback (1) about 5 and a half years ago
Maybe it's because the popolozzio brothers (frank who runs Flowrestling) are starting to have some influence in the legitimacy of the process? They are pretty big the sport and we may begin to see the sway of favoritism over the logic that's always been used to determine the NWCA duals come into play.
tucker o (1) about 5 and a half years ago
Yeah....Iowa was shaking in their boots just thinking about having to face the mighty Hokies in Carver! Hahaha
dbestsport (1) about 5 and a half years ago
Ryan shows himself as a phony 'cause if the "final rankings trump all" were followed, then how does Ohio State get Edinboro? Based on the final rankings, Ohio State should be wrestling Lehigh.
HeathrowH (1) about 5 and a half years ago
Anyone looks at that match up on paper Va Tech is a tougher opponent than NC st for Iowa. Va tech gave Penn St their toughest Dual of the season ( 6 - 4)...and there is a whole list of reasons why the Brand brothers would not want to wrestle Va tech ( not just cause they might lose at home) Goes back years. It is obvious that Iowa used their influence to avoid facing Va tech. NC st vs Iowa is the Orange bowl for sure.
CoreyCA (2) about 5 and a half years ago
What "considerable interest" are you talking about. The match ups are terrible for the dos part, you have to go out of your way to watch the matches except for PSU v OSU. Either have a dual meet tournament or don't bu don't try to foist this crappy format off on the wrestling fan
Whitetailwhisperer (1) about 5 and a half years ago
A real duel champion is good for the sport. I don't hear dresser complaining about Oklahoma st. jumping NC State and Va Tech. Oklahoma st. doesn't have a chance against penn st missing 2 starters. This bracket system is something you would see in North Korea collegiate sports. State sanctioned and government approved.
Blacknblue (1) about 5 and a half years ago
The system if flawed.
#1 vs #2 should be the match up we all see.
In CFB there was always someone who felt they deserved better at the end of the year and I do agree that VT deserves to be ranked higher than NC St but you are a fool if you think IA is afraid of any team.
I understand how all the Iowa Haters want to believe that but that will never be as long as Tom Brands is the coach!
oscarjereck (1) about 5 years ago
I agree with coach Ryan. His tweet says much about his attitude to the whole team and the other teams. I cited him at article on controversial sports.
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