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Wrestling with the big boys: Coming up a bit short

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The National Wrestling Coaches Association helps to promote wrestling, including recognizing individual programs and their own promotional efforts. Rutgers was among 16 schools nominated for Best in Brand for its highlight reel. But round one was as far as the Knights got.

Roy DeBoer - used with permission

Ya wanna be considered powerful?  Have some juice?  Power?

You have to show that your fans care and have your back.

And the word was out.

But we came up a little short....to the Mavericks of Minnesota State. (I really wanted them to be the Screaming Eagles)

It was the National Wrestling Coaches Association's Best of Brand voting for Highlight Reel.  Rutgers was the No. 2 seed - yes, we were seeded - but lost to the Mavs. It dealt with sports marketing, something that Rutgers has been doing a great job with this year.

There were six Big Ten schools in the round, none facing each other. And if it's any consolation, four lost, including Rutgers.  And the margin of loss?  Eight votes out of 1,116 cast. Eight.  And, again, for what it's worth, the RU-Minnesota State contest had more votes than any other of the eight pairings.  For what it's worth.

Yeah, that sucks.

So, how could that happen?  We've got some pretty passionate and enthusiastic wrestling fans.  We tried, we really did.

The only two B1G teams that advanced were Northwestern and Wisconsin. The Cats went against Princeton, and Ivy preppie snobs just can't be bothered with such mundane stuff.  Wisky, though, went against a pretty hot NC State team and thumped'em.  Rutgers, on the other hand, went against a school that has a pretty good overall program....in D2....and finished fifth in the Directors Cup standings.  Not that anyone around here cares about such things. So, they have a pretty enthusiastic and supportive community in Mankato.

Well, they did.  The school does have an enrollment over 17,000.

Rutgers, on the other hand, is very big, very diverse, and can be very divided, with fans not always looking at other sports; I'm lookin' at you "football drives the bus" people.  And you, too, hoopsters.

But we should not feel too bad.  Nebraska lost to Wabash (NCAA D3 4th Place, 910 students), Minnesota lost to Wyoming, and Maryland lost to North Dakota State.  And in non-B1G news, and another example of David and Goliath, Rider topped Pitt.

Now, this isn't the end of the world for Rutgers.  It's disappointing, because any recognition is a good thing.  It didn't happen, so we move on.  But, unfortunately, it was still a missed opportunity to grow the brand and - maybe more importantly -  to show that Rutgers fans can make a difference.  And while we did a nice job, it just wasn't enough.  It would have been a great opportunity to show just how good Rutgers wrestling fans can be.

And maybe to start to end the criticism some people like to shower on Rutgers.