March 18. 2009 8:39PM
New qualifying system lauded
By J.R. Ogden
IOWA CITY ? Wrestling coaches, or any group of coaches, seldom agree on much. But the new NCAA qualifying system is a winner, said the five coaches who attended Wednesday?s news conference at the Scottrade Center.
?I really miss the wild-card meetings in the Big 12,? Missouri Coach Brian Smith said with a laugh about the reputed tension-filled meetings after the Big 12 Conference meet. ?I think it?s the fairest system in the 19 years I?ve been involved with this.?
The NCAA scrapped the formula that awarded conference or regional tournaments with qualifiers based on previous NCAA performance with one that looks at regular-season success ? or failure. A wrestler?s won-loss record coupled with an RPI-like system that looked at strength of schedule and a coaches poll were the deciding factors that determined how many qualifiers a weight would get at each qualifier.
?It?s a pretty darn-good system,? Cornell University Coach Rob Koll said. ?There?s no way in heck you are going to have a system where everybody?s happy ... (but) I don?t think you need to make any drastic changes.?
The NCAA will take a look at the system after this year?s tournament, tweaking it if needed. Iowa Coach Tom Brands said no tweaks are necessary.
?It?s fair,? he said. ?No complaints here yet. You wait and see how it goes down the pipes and then evaluate it later.
?(But) there?s no more fair way to get the best guys in the tournament than to do it based on a formula on same-year results.?
One complaint about the formula is the difficulty for teams on the west coast ? the Pac-10 wrestling conference, for instance ? to get a high ?strength of schedule? rating because most of the top teams are in the Midwest and east. Nebraska Coach Mark Manning said the solution is simple.
?If you can?t schedule dual meets with other top programs ... go to Midlands or get entered in the national duals,? he said.
?There?s a lot of tournaments around the country,? Ohio State Coach Tom Ryan said.
Northwestern senior Jake Herbert, the top seed at 197 pounds, is one of the most colorful wrestlers in the field.
At the Big Ten Championships, friends and family were wearing T-shirts that noted Herbert ?puts the laughter in manslaughter.?
?My mom wanted some kind of quote,? he said Wednesday. ?That kind of sums it up. I like to have fun with wrestling, don?t like to take too many things that seriously. But for those seven minutes (on the mat) I?m as serious as I can be.?
He said he?s hasn?t gotten any negative feedback about the ?manslaughter? reference,
?Not yet,? he said.
Herbert also called the Big Ten Wrestler of the Year award he won two weeks ago the ?consolation prize? to the Dan Hodge Trophy that goes to the nation?s top wrestlers. Iowa?s Brent Metcalf won it last year and is favored to take it again this season.
?He?s just relentless,? Herbert said. ?It?s awesome.
?I would hate to have a drill match with him. I know I?d get really tired.?
For possibly the first time in NCAA wrestling history. former Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes was quoted at the pre-championship news conference.
OSU Coach Tom Ryan was asked about his team?s struggles at the Big Ten meet two weeks ago and what it means for this weekend.
?I like the mentality of the team right now,? he said. ?I think I?ll take a quote from Woody Hayes ... ?sometimes it takes a butt-whipping to cleanse the soul.??
The Buckeyes also struggled at last year?s Big Ten meet, but finished second here.
?We?re excited about this tournament,? Ryan said.
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