Realignment means wait-and-see
Conference shifts affect more than just the revenue teams
In certain parts of the country, they say if you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes and it will most likely change. The same adage could be used for the 24-hour chatter concerning conference realignment.
Football and men's basketball, and the revenue they generate, are 1 and 1A when it comes to the conversations between school presidents, chancellors and administrators.
Until negotiations are complete, most collegiate coaches in the Olympic, non-revenue realm are on a wait-and-see basis.
"It's kind of been musical chairs," Missouri coach Brian Smith said. "There was the Big Ten, then half of the Big 12 was going to the Pac-12, then the Big 12 was staying together. Now it's the SEC. Five years from now, I don't think any of us really know where we will be."
On Monday in Dallas, the Big 12's Board of Directors met to discuss, among other things, the on-going dialogue concerning Missouri's status in the conference. League leaders expressed a "strong desire" for the Tigers to remain in the Big 12.
In 1958, fives schools offered wrestling in the Big Eight Conference -- Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa State and Kansas State. In 1997, the Big Eight merged with the Southwest Conference to form the Big 12, but none of the Texas schools offered wrestling, keeping the total programs at five with Missouri instead of Kansas State.
As the 2011-12 season approaches, Missouri may hold the brush to a future wrestling landscape. If the Tigers join the Southeastern Conference, where will they wrestle? No program in the conference offers a mat program.
And so commences the national game of dominoes, giving way to more scenarios and questions, like:
• With only three teams remaining -- Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Iowa State -- what happens to the Big 12? Many Big 12 pundits feel West Virginia will replace Missouri in the league if the Tigers were to move on, so will a four-team league continue? Will the Tigers continue to wrestle with their old league brethren?
• A possible scenario includes Missouri joining OSU, OU and Iowa State in the Western Wrestling Conference that includes Wyoming, Northern Iowa, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Air Force Academy, Northern Colorado and Utah Valley.
• The Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) currently includes seven programs. But Pittsburgh will join the Atlantic Coast Conference next season. If West Virginia moves west to the Big 12, what becomes of the remaining five -- Bloomsburg, Clarion, Edinboro, Lock Haven and Cleveland State?
• The East Regional simply went away after the 2010-11 campaign. Eleven qualifiers turned into 10 when Duquesne dropped wrestling and Liberty reclassified as a club sport. Gardner-Webb and Campbell moved to the Southern Conference with Millersville set to reclassify to Division II next season. Meanwhile, it has not been determined what NCAA qualifying tournament Millersville will compete in 2012. Depending on which way the dominoes fall there could be just eight qualifiers by 2012-13.
Some see Missouri's move into a conference without wrestling as a negative. Others see it as a possible positive and, who knows, perhaps the return of a program or two in the southeastern part of the United States. There is some mat history in the area.
The 1971 NCAA Championships were held in Auburn, Ala. The Tigers finished inside the top 10 in 1981 and Kentucky did twice (1977 and 1981).
Individually, there has been plenty of wrestling talent to come out of the southeast.
Franklin Gomez, who won a national title for Michigan State and competed in the 2011 World Championships for Puerto Rico, grew up in Florida. Chris Bono, a national champion for Iowa State in 1996, is also a Floridian.
Daniel Cormier, a native of Louisiana, was an NCAA finalist for Oklahoma State and earned a bronze medal in freestyle for the United States.
Sam Henson was a two-time NCAA champion (1993-94) for Clemson and also won a World Championship in freestyle. Tennessee's Chris Edmond was an NCAA champion in 1985.
Louisiana State never produced a national champion but Kevin Jackson, a future World champion in freestyle, started his career at LSU before finishing at Iowa State where he is now the head coach.
Dan McNair won a national title representing Auburn in 1953. He was a product of Louisiana.