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November 21, 2012

RU wrestling gets major boost entering Big Ten

It doesn't take the most astute wrestling aficionado to know where the best of the best go to wrestle in the NCAA. The answer is rather simple: The Big Ten.

"It's the grandaddy of them all. It's the best conference in the country, it's the best wrestling conference," said Rutgers head coach Scott Goodale. "It's as big as it gets and it's the highest level of the sport. Tremendous coaches and some of the best athletes in the world."

When Rutgers announced yesterday that it will officially join the Big Ten, it immediately boosted the RU wrestling program up another notch.

"It's a huge day for us and we're excited. We're going to attract kids now that want to be in this conference and we'll be able to get the best of the best," said Goodale, who holds an impressive 71-21-1 record in his four years as Rutgers' head coach. "It will certainly make for an interesting schedule. We'll have a great schedule from here on out, there is no other way around it. We wrestle the best teams in the country from here on out, that's something we've tried to do anyway."

Rutgers will get a preview of a future Big Ten opponent in February when Penn State visits Piscataway.

"We're going to wrestle Penn State this year and we're not even in the Big Ten yet. There is a good chance there is going to be 1,000 people in The RAC for that," Goodale said. "That's what this type of conference brings. As far as attendance goes, it's going to be big for us."

Being in the Big Ten is also likely to boost RU's prowess when it comes to recruiting.

"Every blue-chip kid we've recruited and lost, the No.1 thing they say is they want to be in the Big Ten," Goodale said. "The best wrestlers in the country want to be in the Big Ten. So we won't have to hear that anymore."

But conference affiliation will not change the way Goodale has recruited since he arrived at Rutgers in 2008.

"The truth of the matter is we've always chased the highest level. We'll still recruit Ohio, we'll still recruit California, we'll still recruit Florida. We've done that since day one anyway because we are trying to chase the ultimate prize. From that standpoint, it's not going to change but now there is more visibility. More people know where Rutgers is at and what we're doing."

It has still yet to be determined when Rutgers will join the Big Ten, but the effects have already begun to sweep through Piscataway.

"The recruiting will start right now. I've already gotten calls from some of the best juniors," Goodale said. "Some of the best juniors in the country have reached out, seeing if it was true. It's going to help tremendously. I can't emphasize how important it is for these high school kids to wrestle in this conference."

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