On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with Rutgers University head wrestling coach Scott Goodale.
After competing in the EIWA, this will be the first season in which Rutgers competes in the Big Ten Conference, which is the strongest in NCAA Div. I wrestling. They do so with one of their strongest teams in years, which includes returning All-American Anthony Perrotti, the team’s first All-American since 2002, and two returning NCAA qualifiers, Billy Smith and Ken Theobold, as well as Anthony Ashnault and Andrew Campolattano, a transfer from Ohio State, both of whom had been four-time high school state champions in New Jersey.
We spoke with Coach Goodale, now in his eighth season as the Rutgers head wrestling coach, by phone Tuesday.
“The university decided to go Big Ten, so therefore we didn’t have much say. It is what it is. It’s the best wrestling conference in the country,” he said.
“We’re excited about that. Nothing’s really changed except for the fact our schedule’s changed quite a bit. The approach remains the same. We feel really, really good about our preseason. We feel really good about what we did over the summer. We’re excited about where we’re at. We feel this is the best team we’ve fielded since I’ve been here for eight years. So we’re putting a pretty good product out on the mat, and that’s exciting.”
He added, “Obviously that schedule gets a lot more challenging come January 2nd when we start the Big Ten and we open with the University of Iowa, but we look forward to the opportunity and we love the fact we’re in this conference. It makes things exciting around here, for sure.”
It also doesn’t get easier for them, as they host Minnesota on January 11, four-time defending NCAA Div. I champion Penn State on January 16, and Ohio State on February 1.
Bringing in the top teams in the country has already resulted in increased ticket sales, which addresses another issue facing college wrestling. With the O’Bannon decision now mandating that top colleges compensate at least some of the athletes in some sports, the existence of programs in so-called “non-revenue” sports like wrestling may be put in some jeopardy.
Coach Goodale said that for wrestling, which is “a blue-collar sport,” there needs to be “a sense of urgency” in bolstering the many college programs. Their goal at Rutgers, he said, is for wrestling to be “a revenue-making sport.” We thus discussed that issue, and much more.
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Thanks, Eddie Goldman