Foley's Friday Mailbag: June 29, 2012
T.R. Foley, InterMat Senior Writer
email@example.com, Twitter: @trfoley
InterMat senior writer T.R. Foley answers reader questions about NCAA wrestling, international wrestling, recruiting, or anything loosely related to wrestling. You have until Thursday night every week to send questions to Foley's Twitter or email account.
Q: Recently, former NFL MVP, Kurt Warner, stated that he does not want his children playing football. Do you have any reservations about your own children wrestling?
-- W. Mondale
Foley: You want to do this? Fine, let's do this.
Let me start with a broader interpretation of your question. Sports aimed at children should teach skills and values that will influence them in maintaining an active and sustainable lifestyle through adulthood. What does that mean? That means that our job as parents, teachers, and coaches should be to give our children the tools and knowledge to show them healthy sporting options that they can continue to play for years to come. Obviously, football is WELL outside of these parameters, both because of the concussion issues and because there is no sustainable way to participate in full-contact football as an adult. There are other issues regarding football that make it unhealthy: lack of cardiovascular workout, injury rates, and unnecessary weight gain are just the first that popped into my likely damaged-by-football brain.
Wrestling has injuries, too. Any activity increases your chance of a concussion while participating and wrestling is not different. However wrestling, unlike football, is a sport without additives -- there are no helmeted heads or shoulder pads to wield as weapons. Head injuries are ancillary in wrestling, while in football they're unavoidable. Nothing is scarier than watching a kids football game when nine-year-old kids leave their feet and dive headlong into a lineman twice their size just to impress their overcompensating youth football coach.
Wrestling has its unnecessary dangers as well, premier among them being extreme weight cutting. Once the decision is made to start cutting weight there is usually no sacrifice a wrestler isn't willing to make in order to favor that weight and strength advantage. Cutting weight is lazy. It takes more discipline to maintain a healthy diet year-round than it does to shed ten pounds in two days. Disagree? How healthy do most of the former wrestlers you know look one year after they finish competing? Hell, take a look at some of our NCAA wrestlers with eligibility and you'll see some fleshy bodies. That type of cyclical eating leads to poor food choices later in life, and when you take away the two-hour workouts for five months you end up chunky. Given complete control I'd want my kid to start wrestling around his 12th birthday and would always encourage him to go up a weight class.
The top priority of our wrestling community should be ending the cycle of binge and purge. How to do that, I don't know, but WEIGHT CUTTING will be our sport's biggest concern over the next decade. Gloomy, I know, but I also know that with leadership wrestling can once again be the absolute healthiest sport in the world.
As for football? I suspect I'll love my children and because I will, none of them will play a snap, and neither should yours. Football doesn't make you tough and it doesn't build character, at best it'll give you a high school letterman jacket and a lifetime of headaches. Stick to running, swimming, and wrestling -- sports that maximize the human body's potential and when done in moderation leave us emotionally and physically healthy.
Q: I am surprised that Michigan didn't make the list of the top wrestling states. They have produced 103 All-Americans since 1961, which is more than both Virginia and Minnesota. Recently St. Johns High School spent most of the past two years ranked in the top five with a few other schools also cracking the list. There was also the crop of Davison wrestlers winning NCAA titles: Paul Donohoe, Brent Metcalf, and Jon Reader. Cam Simaz won an NCAA title last year as well.
As for the college scene, Central Michigan has spent more time in the last 10 years inside the top 10 than out. Michigan has had some success as well. Michigan State and Eastern Michigan have been a little down. Kevin Jackson and Steve Frasier both went to high school in Michigan before winning Olympic gold. Currently, some of the top freestyle wrestlers are training out of Ann Arbor and there is the USOEC Greco-Roman program in Marquette.
Foley: I don't hate your argument.
The only reason I threw North Dakota in as an honorable mention is because the Fargo tournament holds a special place in the culture of American wrestling and deserved a little recognition for its contribution. Michigan definitely deserves to be in the discussion of the nation's top wrestling states.
Q: Has there ever been any more than five champions on one team at any NCAA Division I tournament? How many times have there been five?
Foley: (Realizes this is a research question, bangs head against desk.)
THREE TIMES (H/T Joe).
OSU had five NCAA champions in 2005 (Photo/Jeremy Cook)The first squad (since 1961) to accomplish the feat was the 1986 Iowa Hawkeyes Brad Penrith (126) Kevin Dresser (142), Jim Heffernan (150), Marty Kistler (167) and Duane Goldman (190). (Note: Four of these men are or have been Division I head coaches. Impressive stuff.)
Next was the much-documented 1997 Iowa Hawkeyes. The NCAA champs that season were Jesse Whitmer (118), Mark Ironside (126), Lincoln McIlravy (150), Joe Williams (158) and Lee Fullhart (190).
The other team to capture five individual championships at the NCAA tournament was the 2005 Oklahoma State Cowboys who did the deed with Zack Esposito (149), Johny Hendricks (165), Chris Pendleton (174), Jake Rosholt (197) and Steve Mocco (285)
It's interesting that in an era of parity one school could be so dominant as to have five champs. But it seems to be the case that we are coming into a cycle of mega-programs with a sea of equally matched also-rans. As for the next team to have five champs? Well, if you believe in patterns, you might want to lay some money on Penn State having five champs in 2013, which was eight years after Okie State and 16 years after Iowa's second team to accomplish the feat.
Q: Worst description of wrestling in Hollywood:
A. A.C. Slater's girlfriend on SBTB almost passing out in a wrestling match due to her much larger male opponent's standing full nelson?
B. Vin Diesel's pin (I guess flat stomach on the mat is considered a pin) of Everyone Love's Raymond's brother in "The Pacifier"?
C. Louden Swain's coach wearing a singlet (over his T-shirt) during wrestling practices?
D. None of the Above.
-- D. Tompkins
Foley: I'll eliminate the singlet over the T-shirt because I'm certain that at least one of our readers had a wrestling coach that dressed that way on occasion. In fact, my assistant wrestling coach wasn't scared to pull it off, but I can't remember if it was a joke or not. I'll choose to remember it as something he did to motivate us for dual meets.
Did I miss something when I passed on the chance to watch "The Pacifier?" If you locked me on a plane for 14 hours and made me choose between sitting in first-class where I HAD TO WATCH "The Pacifier" on repeat, or else occupy a middle seat in coach between an arguing couple, I'd gladly choose to play Dr. Phil. However, if the first-class movie was Vin Diesel's "Fast Five" I'd be SOLD. I watch that movie by accident once a week, and each time I'm shocked by the attractiveness of the Brazilian female cop. Yikes. She needs more work.(Unfortunately, she's married to that enormous Australian dude who plays Thor.)
That leaves me with "none of the above" or Slater's girlfriend almost going night-night from an illegal, albeit improbable, hold. I have to go with "None of the Above" because I'd never want to anger the SBTB overseers, or discourage them from including wrestling as often as they did. How many football games did we watch at Bayside? Basketball? Wrestling was their sport of choice, and though they flubbed the move in this situation, they DID get right that Slater wanted to wrestle at Iowa instead of going to West Point, where presumably he wouldn't be wrestling (Would hiring Joe Heskett have changed Slater's mind?).
To my SBTB geeks: On how many episodes of SBTB was wrestling featured? Other sports? Well-researched answers get an InterMat T-shirt and the gratitude of our readers.
Q: I like to compare wrestlers from different decades. Wrestling has clearly advanced significantly over the past 20 years (more funk). That being said, I give you this match: 2012 133-pound NCAA champion Logan Stieber (freshman) vs. 1992 134-pound NCAA champion Tom Brands (senior). Who's your pick?
-- Robbie P.
Foley: Are you challenging me because of my perceived (and not at all real) man-crush on Logan Stieber?
Tom BrandsUnfortunately a "young" Stieber wouldn't be a match for 23-year-old Tom Brands, who won the OW at the 1992 NCAA Championships. Stieber's victory over Jordan Oliver was significant (although a *touch controversial), and though his wrestling style might have frustrated Brands briefly, I don't think anyone was going to stop that monster in 1992. Hell, imagine if Brands had the opportunity to wrestle on the entire mat? Stieber would've passed out from exhaustion. I think that Stieber may end up being more accomplished and his older self might've slaughtered Brands, but not the 2012 version.
Brands by two.
Q: Any more jiu-jitsu and I'm going to stop reading the mailbag.
-- Jim D.
Foley: You just opened the door. Adios, hombre!
Jiu-jitsu is relevant to wrestling. Cael Sanderson knew that the value of learning more about grappling he invited black belt Ricky Lundell onto his Iowa State squad. That anecdote might not have ended with Lundell winning an NCAA championship, but it shows the power that the sport has in influencing wrestling. The sports are closer cousins than many people imagine. (It's NOT just for people looking to start their MMA career.) What compels many former wrestlers to take up the sport is the sustainability of the act (fewer injuries) and the attractiveness of a more technical and calculated set of skills and game planning. In many ways wrestling is checkers and jiu-jitsu is chess.
Just this week comedian and UFC announcer Joe Rogan earned his black belt from 10th Planet jiu-jitsu in LA. Watch his promotion and listen to his speech and you'll hear the themes I've touched on in the mailbag and that many jiu-jitsu choose the sport: camaraderie, self-awareness, and physical conditioning. Rogan isn't a guy proud to get his black belt because he thinks it might score him extra points with women, it's just a minor recognition that he's dedicated his life to self-improvement through jiu-jitsu. Why should we stop learning about ourselves after our wrestling career is over?
Jiu-jitsu is also an example of the type of healthy sport that I'd encourage my kids to practice from a young age. If he picks it up he'll also be able to dork up all those bully lineman and tight ends filling high school and college campuses with their false machismo. "You're wearing pads and you play four seconds at a time. CALM DOWN BUTKUS"
Please note: Foley's Friday Mailbag is taking next week off in the expectation that you'll be wakeboarding and NOT sitting at your desk reading about wrestling. Feel free to send in questions and Happy Independence Day. See you back here on Friday, July 13.