One of the more unexpected announcements a couple weeks ago was the MAC adding two wrestling-only affiliate members — Missouri and Northern Iowa — this season, and a third — Old Dominion — coming onboard in 2013.
This jumps the number of MAC wrestling programs from six to nine. Of the existing six, Kent State and Central Michigan were among the better teams. By my count there are 70 D-I wrestling programs.
Big Ten: 12
Big XII: 4
Which means this year, the MAC will be the third-largest wrestling conference by volume. And the Big XII is down to three teams — yikes.
However, they might not be done. Kent State wrestling coach Jim Andrassy said something interesting last week:
With the addition of three new programs, MAC wrestling jumps from six teams to a nine-team conference. According to Andrassy, the goal is to add two more programs in the near future.
So ... an 11-team conference, you say? I'm not entirely sure who they would add, perhaps someone from the East coast, or — total speculation here — maybe one of the full MAC members re-sponsors varsity wrestling. Who knows.
In terms of how good these additions make the conference, I looked at InterMat's college rankings from last year. Missouri is right up there with Kent State and CMU; Northern Iowa was ranked right behind OHIO; ODU is one of the lowest-ranked but not dead last, so that's a good sign.
I get that football is the driver behind all other sports, but I really like how the conference is diversifying their portfolio. I still have reservations about what college football will resemble in 10 years, and the best way to hedge one's savings is to make sure that all sports are represented well, both in quantity and quality.