The "will he or won't he" story around Pat Downey III and his transfer to Iowa has been one of the season's biggest ongoing subplots, but now it finally has a conclusion. It's just not a happy one for Iowa: Downey won't be wrestling for the Hawkeyes. As first reported by The Des Moines Register's Chad Leistikow, Downey will not be eligible to wrestle for Iowa this season.
Downey needed to jump through a number of hoops to be able to wrestle for Iowa and, to his credit, he seemed to satisfy all of the requirements on his end. He needed to complete his undergraduate degree at Iowa State (he did) and he needed to be admitted into a graduate program at Iowa (he was). He also needed a waiver from the NCAA to transfer to Iowa and compete, though, and, per Downey, the NCAA denied that waiver request. Iowa would have been the third Division I program of Downey's career, after previous stints at Nebraska and Iowa State. Neither Leistikow nor Downey offered any further details about why the NCAA denied the waiver and, knowing the NCAA, we're not likely to get any details, either.
Downey had a very tumultuous career prior to his hoped-for transfer to Iowa, but he seemed excited about the move to Iowa and the opportunity to compete one last time. He also seemed to have cleaned up some of the less savory aspects of his character while completing his undergrad degree at ISU and getting ready to move to Iowa. We won't know how the end of his story would have played out in Iowa City now.
The absence of Downey likely means that Mitch Bowman, a junior with a 9-6 record and ranked #20 in the country per InterMat, will retain the starting spot at 184 lbs for the duration of the dual meet season and the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments. Bowman has had some good performances so far this year, highlighted by his 10-6 win over Oklahoma State's Keegan Moore a few weeks ago. The goal now will be for Bowman to show continued improvement and hopefully earn Iowa some points at the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments.
That said, Iowa's ceiling now as a team is undeniably lower than it would have been with Downey on the team and manning this spot in March. Downey had the ability (although, admittedly, not necessarily the track record) to compete for high spots on the podium at 184 lbs in the Big Ten and NCAA and could have earned Iowa a lot of points in the team races at those events. Given the strength of the Ohio State and Penn State teams, Iowa's title odds were always pretty thin, but any scenario for an Iowa victory relied on Downey getting Iowa significant points at 184 lbs. Without Downey, Iowa likely has too many holes in its lineup to plausibly contend for team championships. That's certainly not an easy thing for use to accept as Iowa fans, but the lineup is what it is this year. Hopefully Iowa's star performers can come through in a big way and the lesser lights can be happy surprises and we'll be pleasantly surprised by what happens come March. But at least now we can close the book on the Pat Downey subplot and focus on the guys actually on Iowa's roster this season -- it's good to have some closure on the matter.