I've always liked the question that comes in several different versions about what college programs would you start if you had the power. I like the magical genie version granting three programs while others like Jason Bryant equate the lottery winnings to such a hypothetical in his Short Time podcast segment. Well, after last night's drawing fetching zero matches the Mega Millions draw this Friday may near $600 million. So what programs would you start? Here's my list.
1) Notre Dame
Last week on Short Time, I answered the question with Notre Dame. Giving the emerging ACC another team (making 7) in another geographic area that produces wrestlers. The greater Chicago area that's within a short drive from Michigan & Ohio would not have trouble finding recruits. It's also a good academic school which is actually an advantage in wrestling unlike other sports. Also, the singlet possibilities would be fantastic.
2) Florida State
It's about time Florida had a collegiate team and choosing Florida State makes sense with the ACC conference to jump right in. Tallahassee is in the north of the state making travel to opens easier as well. Also, the uniform possibilities would be amazing. Recruiting in the southeast may sound like an initial challenge, but the weather and female talent may change recruits minds.
3) Texas Christian University
The TCU Horned Frogs would be an excellent addition. Of course, Texas is the monster the wrestling community wants to gain a foothold in to the gigantic state. Any D1 school in Texas would be great to add. TCU gets the nod from me being in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Honorable Mentions (while we are in fantasy land let's have some fun)
- Grand Valley State
Davenport is transitioning from NAIA to D2 after completing their first year of being a non-club program. Their heavyweight actually won the MSU Open last year pinning Thomas Haines (now of Lock Haven). GVSU is also in the Grand Rapids area and has been a club-team powerhouse for more than a decade and a half. West Michigan has produced a lot of great college wrestlers and they would be a tough team that could prominently feature overlooked recruits.
- Western Michigan
Another homer pick I know, but another team in the MAC in a strong wrestling breeding ground would be a great addition to the D1 landscape.
Kentucky is not known for their wrestling, but the border city does have a great university with over 16,000 undergrads. Another ACC team in the midwest would be a great add. Looking at you Papa Johns guy.
Ohio does not really have a shortage of collegiate teams necessarily, but the idea the Rockets don't have a team in the MAC is a failure. The border city on the coast of Lake Erie is an ideal location for a wrestling program. More than 18,000 undergrads fill this campus and should they should have a team to root for.
C'mon Yale and get your shit together. The rest of the Ivy League sans Dartmouth has wrestling. Get it done.
They are now in the PAC 12 in a state that is underrepresented on the D1 landscape. This should happen.
The small school in the suburbs of Birmingham, Alabama may seem like an odd choice even for a fantasy list. My point is more schools should take a page out of the Edinboro playbook. Find a way to poach a couple people to lead your program and make a splash. If you're looking to use some money to athletically grow the name of your university, pouring money in to Football, Basketball, and Baseball to fight for recruits in the dirty south is a money wasting venture. Being the only D1 wrestling program in the deep south and needing just a recruit or two each year to pan out having your name splashed at Madison Square Garden is a much better chance at ROI.