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Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands provides cheeky update on Austin DeSanto: ‘We don’t have to amputate’

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands provided a small update on 133-pounder Austin DeSanto on Tuesday.

“Preliminary stuff is we don’t have to amputate,” Brands said during his weekly media availability. “We’ll find out more.”

DeSanto injured his right knee last Friday night during the top-ranked Hawkeyes’ 19-17 win over No. 2 Penn State. He injury defaulted after his match against Roman Bravo-Young was stopped twice for injury time.

The junior did not compete in Iowa’s 32-3 win over Michigan State on Sunday in East Lansing. Paul Glynn got the nod and defeated Garrett Pepple, 9-4. Glynn was the only 133-pounder listed on Iowa’s probables on Tuesday ahead of Saturday’s dual against No. 17 Michigan.

“He’s handling it good,” Brands said. “He’s been in the room. He didn’t make the trip with us (to East Lansing) because it didn’t make sense to put a guy on a bus for 14 hours with that type of thing. He’s handling it very well.”

Iowa associate head coach Terry Brands calls out to an official while trainers check on Austin DeSanto during his match at 133 pounds during a NCAA Big Ten Conference wrestling dual, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

After Friday’s dual, Brands said he thought DeSanto could have continued wrestling. DeSanto rejoined the Iowa bench during the dual’s final match, when Tony Cassioppi’s 7-0 decision over Seth Nevills clinched the dual win for the Hawkeyes. He maintained that stance on Tuesday.

“Here’s where I’m at,” Brands said. “We have to get better. We have to get to an angle. The easy answer, the general answer there is our technique needs to progress and get better. Austin DeSanto knows that after being coached up on that.

“We have to get better in those positions, or in that position. That’s the biggest thing that we take away from it. Stay healthy.”

Brands also said Max Murin “is good.” The sophomore 141-pounder has missed the past three duals. He’s been dealing with a shoulder injury since the preseason and has worn a brace in all 11 of his contested matches this season.

“He wants to go,” Brands said.

Murin was listed on the probable lineups, along with junior Carter Happel, who’s gone 1-2 in his place. Brands expressed caution when dealing with injuries, both with Murin and DeSanto.

“We have to be smart,” Brands continued. “We’re going to do the right thing. We’re going to be conservative when it’s time to be conservative with those types of situations. We’re going to be moderate when it’s time to be moderate.

“When it’s time to be aggressive, and our medical team, (athletic trainer) Jesse Donnenwerth, is comfortable with the safety level, then we’ll be aggressive. Right now, we’ve got to be smart. You don’t want to go back to square one just because you rush something.

“… We’ve had some injuries in the past where guys have had some significant injuries near the end of the year, and we’ve got some mileage on them. You can accomplish a lot with some good common sense, dealing with injuries.”

Iowa-Penn State dual sets BTN record

The Big Ten Network announced Tuesday that last Friday’s dual between Iowa and Penn State was the most-watched wrestling telecast in BTN history. It was also the day’s highest-rated college sport event across all networks.

The dual, which featured 18 ranked wrestler — including seven ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 at the time — averaged 342,955 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research, which was more than the 2018 dual between Penn State and Ohio State, which averaged 309,265.

Digital consumption from the event also featured an additional 802,574 minutes of streaming on the FOX Sports app and 2.2 million minutes watched between Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, according to the Big Ten Network.

Through 12 broadcasts this season, BTN’s average audience for wrestling telecasts is 116,043 people, which is up 67 percent from last year, according to Big Ten Network. 

“I think wrestling is taking a bigger piece of the pie every year,” Brands said. “It’s kind of incremental. Like we’re up 67 percent … I think some of that 67 percent is skewed because of the huge numbers from Iowa-Penn State.”

Iowa fans cheer during a NCAA Big Ten Conference wrestling dual, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Brands continued: “(Penn State coach) Cael Sanderson has said every year, the last two or three years, at our head coaches meeting in Chicago, postseason, that wrestling needs to know what our numbers are so we can get credit. We’re lumped in with all these other sports but we’re leading the charge with these other sports.

“So from my understanding, football is way ahead. Then it’s men’s basketball pretty far behind, but men’s basketball is pretty far ahead of the next one. Whether it’s women’s basketball or wrestling right now, I don’t know. I’m not going to speak. But being up 67 percent, that needs to be put out there.”

Brands believes wrestling’s continued growth could soon make a bigger impact.

“Is wrestling a revenue sport at these places like Iowa and Penn State and Ohio State in the Big Ten?” he continued. “The answer is, ‘Well, we give you the budget to operate, but your gate isn’t covering your expenses,’ so no, it’s not.

“But wait a minute, what’s our credit for the Big Ten Network? The whatever, $50-plus million, what’s the credit we get for the numbers? The dollars? Let’s put that into the equation and see if we’re in the black.”

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.

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