What two major wrestling programs could not accomplish over the course of months, their two head coaches may have achieved in a matter of minutes on Twitter.
Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson and University of Iowa’s Tom Brands, lamenting the lack of a Nittany Lions-Hawkeye dual meet for the 2013-14 season, conversed on Twitter about trying to add a mat meeting into their schedules Thursday afternoon.
It all started with a Tweet from Sanderson (@caelsanderson on Twitter) at 12:43 p.m, Eastern to Brands’ brand-new Twitter account (@TomBrandsHAWK), “There seems to be something BIG missing on our schedules this year...”
Brands responded, “I agree. Let’s do something about it.”
The Penn State coach replied, “Yes! Let's figure it out. Rec Hall??” referring to the on-campus home to the Nittany Lions wrestling program for decades.
After a bit of a delay, Brands wrote, “I'm thinking Carver Hawkeye Arena. Remember you owe us a 'two in a row.'” (The last Iowa-Penn State dual took place at Carver in Iowa City in early February, with the host Hawkeyes toppling Cael’s then-top ranked wrestlers, 22-16.)
After a bit of joking back-and-forth about pink locker rooms and Brands’ slow-speed posts to Twitter, Sanderson wrote, “U know this late this might be too much of a hassle, it was a fun to play with idea though. we'll see you guys at B1G tourney.” Then the Penn State coach followed up with, “Just kidding, we are in. let us know when and we'll be there!!” – even creating a hashtag in anticipation of the event: #IowaVsPennState
Brands responded, “Listen. Sometime in December. Around the 'good will toward men' holiday. Your calendar open?”
Just before 3:00 p.m., Sanderson wrote, “Schedule's tight but we'll make it work. Send a date and we'll lock it in.” That ended the conversation between the two Olympic gold medalist wrestlers-turned-Big Ten coaches.
So… was it a publicity stunt between two of the most successful college wrestling programs, or a honest conversation between two rival coaches who, according to wrestling writer Jim Carlson of PennLive.com, have become “fast friends” over the summer, working together on the effort to get the International Olympic Committee to reverse its decision in February to eliminate wrestling from the Summer Games after 2016.
In an attempt to verify the legitimacy of the Twitter exchange, Carlson contacted Penn State, which had no comment. However, Chris Brewer, an Iowa athletic communications spokesman in charge of wrestling, said, “I’d call it genuine interest but nothing official.’’
The proof will be if the two coaches and their programs face each other in an arena… or limit their face-offs to the Twitterverse.
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