Doug Schwab and 2,000 tickets

By JIM NELSON, jim.nelson@wcfcourier.com | Courtesy of WCFcourier.com

As a collegiate and international competitor, Doug Schwab didn’t back down from anybody.

He didn’t as an assistant coach at Iowa, either … kind of the Hawkeye mentality that he learned as a Hawkeye.

And, Schwab doesn’t see why he shouldn’t back down from any challenges as Northern Iowa’s first-year head coach.

While Schwab and his staff of brother, Mark, and Randy Pugh, have been hard at work getting the Panthers ready for the 2010-11 season, which features an exciting schedule with Old Dominion (Nov. 20), Nebraska (Jan. 23) and Iowa (Dec. 9) all invading the West Gym, they’ve also been hard at work with recruiting and ticket sales.

Ticket sales?

Schwab has challenged the program to sell 2,000 season tickets. Considering last year’s season ticket numbers were less than 200 that number seems a bit ambitious.

Schwab doesn’t deny that ambitious statement.

Here is what he had to say about it prior to UNI’s open practice Oct. 3.

“From day one we’ve been recruiting guys to come to our program and recruiting alumni and getting them back on board with the program. We like challenges. That (season ticket sales) is a pretty lofty number, I guess. It would put us in the top-seven nationally (attendance wise). That’s a step. That’s putting yourself up there there with the best teams in the country. Then you start putting yourself up there with the best teams in the country performance wise.

“We take challenges and meet them head on and we’re excited about it. A lot of people probably say we can’t do it. We sold 170 last year, so it’s a pretty big jump. A lot of it depends on what kind of product you put out there. We want it to be one people want to come and watch. It’s our job to hook them (the fans). If they come and watch a snooze fest, watch athletes put there heads down and don’t want to come back, they won’t come back. But if they see guys fight, hustle and battle they’ll come back.

“Some people have asked me why don’t you start at 500 or 1,000. Well … because we want to think big. Why would we limit ourselves to anything less.”

The Panthers have been in the room officially for a little more than 10 days now. Last Saturday, Schwab put a couple of mats out onto the main West Gym floor and had an open practice attended by a 50-100 fans.

Up until that practice, he had liked what he saw. Sheepishly, he winked at the crowd once and said ‘we’re not looking good out there so we’re going to have to do something about it’ and then he promptly lit a fire under his charges.

Here’s what he said about the first week and a half of practice.

“I like how the guys have responded. I’ve been pleased with how they’ve come around. The big thing is they are starting to feel a difference. They are starting to feel stronger and feel better in all positions. They are starting to feel more prepared.

“When you start to feel more prepared you’re more confident. You carry yourself differently; you train differently. We’re definitely seeing signs of things we want … we just need to see more of it.”

Schwab and the Panthers will be holding another open practice homecoming weekend (Oct. 22-23) as part of a big weekend the mat program is planning for Alumni.

On Friday, there will be an open practice in the West Gym from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Immediately following the practice, an informal get-together will be held at Mulligans from 6-10 p.m.

On Saturday, the Panthers will hold an open practice from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and from 1-3:30 p.m. it will hold a pre-game social with food and drinks provided under a tent located on the NW side of the UNI-Dome near the WRC. Schwab will talk about the team, goals and future of UNI wrestling.

Additionally, wrestling t-shirts and sweatshirs will be available for purchase.

On some non-related UNI wrestling news, Iowa State will hold its annual media day on Tuesday, and the University of Iowa has schedule its media day for Nov. 4. The Courier will be there in force for both.

Finally, as many of you know as of today, Iowa will not be competing in the NWCA National Duals in January at the UNI-Dome. Hear what NWCA executive director Mike Moyer and former Iowa head coach Dan Gable have to say about that in upcoming days.

I’d love to hear from any of my readers on how they feel about the Hawkeyes being absent from the duals.