Monday, March 31, 2008

"Banach is in trouble!"

Russ Hodges’ home run call is one of the most famous in all of American sports history – so famous that the home run is often called the “shot heard ‘round the world”.

In 1981, in a dual wrestling meet, Iowa Public Television’s Doug Brown made a call that might be called the “pin heard ‘round Iowa” - “Osenbaugh has Banach in trouble! Banach is in trouble”. Up to that point Iowa State was winning the dual, but a pin by Iowa heavyweight, Lou Banach, would snatch the victory for the number-one-ranked Hawkeyes. For two periods Banach, outweighed by 40 – 50 pounds, dominated the match. At the start of the third period he was up 10 - 0 and had almost four minutes of riding time – most of which was earned by trying arm bars and cradles to get Cyclone heavyweight, Dave Osenbaugh, on his back. Then – suddenly – Osenbaugh turned Banach and held on for the pin. The ensuing celebration was one of the greats in Cyclone history.

Iowa Public Television broadcast it’s first college wrestling meet in the early ‘70s. According to IPTV’s College Wrestling series producer, Pat Rowen, “The first that I have heard about was at Tech High School in Des Moines where IPTV started as a single station. The mats were laid down in the auditorium, cameras were wheeled in from the studio, and two college wrestling teams came in to wrestle a live meet. One of the teams was from Drake University.”

You regular readers know that my love for wrestling began when I went to Ames to see Dan Gable wrestle. I then watched his exploits in the 1972 Olympics on ABC. Even though I loved what I saw, because I never wrestled more than intramurals, I didn’t understand the nuances of what I was watching.

In 1976, after the broadcast of three or four college wrestling meets, IPTV began its’
College Wrestling series with an Iowa/Iowa State dual meet that was distributed nationally by PBS. The series has been running ever since. I learned about wrestling watching these telecasts and listening to Doug Brown.


Doug Brown (far right in photo) was the stereotypical “Renaissance Man”. Starting in the late ‘60s Doug hosted programs like The Music Shop and The Book Club on WOI radio in Ames. Before the launching of the College Wrestling series he had worked as a producer of cultural and remote broadcasts for IPTV. According to Rowen, “He also had a broad interest and knowledge of wrestling”, so when the announcing position became available Doug was interested.

The work of Doug and broadcast partner (former University of Northern Iowa coach) Chuck Patten fueled my passion for the sport to the point where I finally had to attend a meet at the Iowa Fieldhouse. I will be eternally grateful.

It has long been my contention that I am not the only person whose love for college wrestling has been enhanced by IPTV.

Tim Johnson replaced Patten as Brown’s partner until Doug’s retirement. Since then Johnson has worked with Dan Gable and Jim Gibbons on IPTV broadcasts. Just last week the National Wrestling Media Association selected Tim as their Broadcaster of the Year.

(Sadly, Doug Brown passed away from Parkinson’s disease on August 14, 2002.)

Depending upon the teams and the broadcast times 15,000 – 40,000 households will watch a College Wrestling broadcast. Naturally, the largest audiences are for the Iowa/Iowa State meet. For the past few years IPTV has been running a supplementary fund appeal during the Hawkeye/Cyclone broadcast that raises an average of $15,000 to $20,000. However, a season of six wrestling programs costs $112,000.

They need your help.

Almost 60% of public television funding comes from private donations – from you and me. Iowa Public Television has decided that College Wrestling is an important programming element for its’ constituency. As Pat Rowen says, “Generally as part of IPTV’s service to their audience we have done sports, cultural events and public affairs programming that the commercial groups were overlooking or not able to cover. College Wrestling fits well into that category.”

Have you enjoyed College Wrestling broadcasts? Do you want them to continue? Then get out your checkbook or credit card right now and SUPPORT Iowa Public Television. Don’t put it off. Once you click out of this blog you’ll forget all about it.

You can donate at their website

or send a check to

Iowa Public Television Foundation
6535 Corporate Dr
Johnston, IA 50131

If you’re reading this in Florida or New Jersey or California – why should you care? Because this is good for wrestling. If you have a role model to point to, perhaps your state’s public television network will find wrestling as important as ours does.

Author’s note: In addition to helping with the information contained in this blog, IPTV College Wrestling producer, Pat Rowen, provided video of the Banach/Osenbaugh match. Unfortunately, my technical ineptitude prevents me from including it.

Monday, March 24, 2008

First annual View from Section GG Awards

First annual View from Section GG college wrestling awards

The college wrestling season is over and much has happened. All of the traditional awards have been handed out except the Hodge Trophy (Tervel Dlagnev?). This week I begin what I hope will become a tradition (if anyone keeps reading that long).

The, “Well, I guess he really is that good”, award

After almost three years of anticipation and message board hype we all learned that Brent Metcalf is a special athlete. His NCAA finals performance was dominating and he was named this year’s tournament Outstanding Wrestler. If you still think he is over rated you must really hate the Hawkeyes.

Doug Brown Renaissance Man of the Year

Named for the late, great IPTV College Wrestling announcer, this award goes to Bill Roths of New Hampton, IA. I have watched Bill officiate dozens of wrestling matches over the years. However, this is the first year I ever heard him sing. Bill sang the National Anthem at one session each for the NCAA Division II and Division III championships – and did so quite stirringly.

Randy Lewis “Warrior Trophy”

Olympic gold medallist, Randy Lewis, wrestled the NCAA tournament his senior year essentially with one arm and finished 6th. His elbow had been dislocated just a few weeks earlier in a match with Iowa State. Minnesota’s Roger Kish battled injury all year and had to injury default from the Big Ten tournament. Much like Lewis, he wrestled with little more than one arm in the NCAAs. Sadly, he didn’t make it to the medal stand, but he fought hard and scored points for his team

Best time at a party

The UW La Crosse fans were by far the most boisterous at the Division III championships this year. I encountered several of them at the team hotel after finals and those folks know how to have fun.

The Ed Gallagher Pioneer Citation

Oklahoma State’s Ed Gallagher practically invented college wrestling. Our first innovation award goes to the National Collegiate Wrestling Association for holding their initial women’s championship tournament.

Best effort in the service of wrestling

Since I have started writing this blog I have “met” many people who work tirelessly for the advancement of the sport – some are well known – some are relatively obscure. I considered many nominees for this award and decided on Lee Roy Smith and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum for recognizing the contributions to collegiate wrestling made by African American athletes and coaches. Their effort spawned positive press coverage and spread awareness. I was personally thrilled to see Simon Roberts, the first African-American NCAA wrestling champion, interviewed by ESPN during the Division I finals broadcast.
Best performance at a college wrestling press conference

Pick any Tom Brands effort this year.

The swimming upstream award

For bucking the trend we give our hearty support to Grand View College and California State Baptist University for adding men’s wrestling teams and to Jamestown College for adding a women’s program. May we have many candidates for this award in 2009.

WARNING: if you are a “Hawk hater” you may want to stop here.

Best team entrance music

Best post-meet music