Bleeding black and gold
McDonough choose Hawks cover 'Cats
Andy Hamilton ? Iowa City Press-Citizen ? February 12, 2010
Matt McDonough had made his decision, and based on everything Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands knew at the time, it wasn't going to be a favorable choice for his program.
But it wasn't just Brands who thought the evidence pointed against the Hawkeyes. There was nobody on his coaching staff that felt good about Iowa's chances of landing McDonough on that Friday afternoon in November more than two years ago.
McDonough had taken official visits to Iowa, Northwestern and Wisconsin, and his hesitancy to join the Hawkeyes had Brands and his staff thinking the Linn-Mar star was headed elsewhere.
"Tom Brands told me he was planning on writing me a letter to wish me good luck at Northwestern," McDonough said.
"We all thought he was going to Northwestern," Brands said.
Truth be told, that's where McDonough thought he was headed, too. He had made his decision, gone to bed that Thursday night expecting to sign with the Wildcats unless he woke up with doubt.
"I decided that, and I told my parents, 'All right, I made my choice, I'm going to sleep on it.' The next day I kept thinking about it and I couldn't do it," McDonough said.
"I was one minute away from dialing the number for (Northwestern coach) Tim Cysewski. But there are so many wise people who can help you out when you're getting recruited and tell you the important things to think about instead of worrying about money and all the hoopla that's not important in the grand scheme of things.
"Really, it's about where you're most suited to a get a degree and win national titles. I pictured myself where I'd want to be wrestling the most and where I could get a good degree, and I couldn't leave Iowa when I had bled black and gold since I was born."
McDonough drove to Iowa City the next day and committed to Brands. The decision is working out well for McDonough and the top-ranked Hawkeyes thus far. His career is off to one of the best starts for a freshman in Iowa history. McDonough is ranked fourth in the country at 125 pounds and takes a 25-0 record into tonight's 7 p.m. dual against the school he nearly chose.
"We were excited about recruiting him," said Cysewski, who wrestled at Iowa with McDonough's father, Mike. "He's a smart kid and a great wrestler, and we just felt it was a great fit. I thought we had a good shot at getting him. It's hard to pull an Iowa kid out of Iowa, but we're always going to try our best to go in there and get some good ones when we can."
The Hawkeyes and Wildcats are going head-to-head in a different type of recruiting battle. Iowa signed seven of the top 80 prospects in InterMat's recruiting rankings to finish the fall signing period with the No. 1 class in the country.
Northwestern -- which will undergo a coaching change next year when Cysewski and assistant Drew Pariano trade roles -- inked six of the top 100 recruits and landed the No. 2 class.
"We can recruit with the best, and we showed we can with this year's recruiting class," Cysewski said. "We're still not done. We're still looking to overtake Iowa in the recruiting wars, but even if we don't we're very happy with the recruits we have coming here. It would've been nice to get McDonough, but it happens."
Reach Andy Hamilton at 339-7368 or email@example.com.