With the dawning of March, sports fans across the world are gearing up for March Madness, that special time of year set aside to the NCAA men's basketball championships. Known for the hysteria which surrounds the tournament, the championships also offer a bracket format leading to the title. Not to be outdone, the cowboys of the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) instituted their own March madness brackets with the invention of the Dickies Iron Cowboy four years ago.
A one-of-a-kind event in the sport, the Iron Cowboy matches cowboys in head-to-head competition with the winner advancing to the next round. It is the only such event on the PBR schedule during the season, where cowboys can move into the next round with either a higher score than their competitor or a longer buck-off time.
The Iron Cowboy IV is scheduled once again for the storied Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. To be held Saturday, March 2, the Iron Cowboy will be televised in two segments on CBS Sports Network (March 2 at 10 p.m. E.T.) and CBS Sports (March 3 at 1 p.m. E.T.).
Not only are the cowboys competing against one another, but the Iron Cowboy features a whole other competition . . . that between the bulls. While nearly 150 bulls are chosen to compete annually at the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas, only 47 bulls make the cut in Arlington, making it one of the toughest pens of bulls the cowboys will see all year.
Highlighting the bull pen are the past two World Champion Bulls, Bushwacker and Asteroid. The Iron Cowboy will be their first head-to-head meeting of 2013. These two dominating athletes await the last two surviving cowboys in the final match-up for the championship.
On the cowboys' side, 24 riders will begin the night with the top eight from the 2012 World standings getting a first round bye. That can be critical as this contest is a grueling one. Only at the Iron Cowboy will riders face this many bulls of this caliber in this short a time period. In order to win the title, a competitor will attempt at least five rides aboard the best bulls in the PBR today.
Along with bragging rights, the Iron Cowboy receives $50,000, an amount he can double by making eight seconds on the Monster Energy Money Bull, Shepherd Hills Tested. A contender for World Champion Bull in 2013, Shepherd Hills Tested was the ABBI World Champion Classic Bull a year ago and has not been ridden in 2013. He is a tough match on any day but will be tougher given that his rider will have just gotten off either Asteroid or Bushwacker.
Two of the past three Iron Cowboy champions will compete again in 2013 including defending champion J.B. Mauney. The inaugural champion Valdiron de Oliveira will also compete while 2011 Iron Cowboy Colby Yates has since retired. Both Mauney and de Oliveira have first round byes but Mauney's first bull is Delco and de Oliveira gets Red Man. Both cowboys are on the Bushwacker side of the bracket.
Reigning World Champion Silvano Alves faces Pit Boss in his first ride while Reserve champion Guilherme Marchi gets Grey Squirrel.
Current World leader Shane Proctor is making his first Iron Cowboy appearance as is three-time World Finals champion Robson Palermo. After a first round bye, Palermo gets Stretch Armstrong while Proctor tries Cowtown Slinger. Because the seeding is based on last year's standings, Proctor must ride against Reese Cates in the first round; if he advances, he will face his brother-in-law, Mauney, in round two.
Riders get a $1,000 for each qualified ride as well as 100 bonus points for each round win along with their ride score. Technically, a rider could earn 1,000 points toward the World title in Arlington. With Alves 700 points behind Proctor and third-ranked Marco Eguchi 900 points back, it's likely that Proctor will leave Texas still ranked first in the world.
The PBR will be back to its usual format March 9-10 in Tacoma, Washington.