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.

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