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.
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Q: Ellis Coleman told the Today Show that he had the flu. How terrible is it that you can go through four years training for something then have the bad luck of the flu or freak injury?
-- Larry H.
Foley: I saw that too. Seems like he should be better by the time they compete. I was mostly concerned that he and Jordan Burroughs tied up and probably exchanged germs. HANDS OFF THE GOLD MEDALIST, SQUIRREL!
If this mailbag is worse than normal I will be blaming the random virus that just won't leave me alone this week (I'm down 10-2 over the last three days.) Like Coleman, I can't control when I get sick in comparison to when I have to perform (we can call it "writing") so here it is Thursday night I'm wrapped in sweats, snorting ibuprofen and reheating day-old pho. Agreed that there is a *touch less at stake, but I GET the feeling of helplessness a sick Olympic athletes must endure. But like our heroes in Red, White and Blue, I too will forge ahead ...
Q: How does Tom Brands' new contract compare to other high profile coaches in wrestling like J Robinson, Cael Sanderson, Tom Ryan, and John Smith?
Also, how do you feel about a young coach, although a multiple national champion coach, earning that kind of salary compared to other longer tenured coaches with similar results?
-- Jeffrey M.
Foley: Tom Brands' new contract seems to not include some of the fringe benefits and incentives that eventually work their way into the final contract. However, even before we add those numbers, he is pretty solidly the second highest paid college wrestling coach in the nation. But to clarify, that is the amount they are paid in base salary, and for some of these guys that doesn't include endorsements, use of car, or the biggest windfall of them all: camp dollars.
John Smith, Oklahoma State: $284,980
Tom Brands, Iowa: $250,000
J Robinson, Minnesota: $210,498
Cael Sanderson, Penn State: $150,000
Tom Ryan, Ohio State: $110,025.36
This list lacks consistency. Cael's numbers are nowhere near what he made last season, nor does this number reflect fringe benefits. If I had to guess twelve of his monthly paychecks add up to something like $280k, which is likely why Brands enjoyed a significant bump. You must keep up with the Jones.' What makes researching the Penn State system more difficult, nay impossible, is that they aren't actually a public institution. It's a complicated process that has everything to do with tax liability and the funds from football, but Penn State isn't required to file the salaries of their employees. Only after a Right to Know was filed did the top 25 earners from Penn State have their salaries exposed, namely Joe Paterno. For now you just have to take Cael at his word, and then add thirty to fifty-percent to that number.
These guys all run excellent programs that contend for NCAA titles and should be compensated for their work. Overpaid? Nah, I feel that each of them has earned their paychecks and might even be a bit underpaid. Having been there, I can tell you that being a coach is not a 40 hour-a-week job, it's a 24/7 commitment to the future of student-athletes .
Q: How do high schools like Apple Valley, Brandon, and other top schools get away with all the recruiting that goes on? Everyone knows they do it and knows it goes on. Take Mark Hall or Mason Manville for example. These kids are in middle school and wrestling at Fargo and winning it. How is that even fair for kids who stay the right age and have to wrestle them when they are 19 years old wrestling a 17-year-old or a young 18-year-old? Mason Manville was recruited all the way from Virginia and Mark Hall from Michigan, and how is it that Mark Hall can wrestle under Team Michigan but go to Apple Valley? It seems like anyone is too scared to do anything just because they are the No. 1 team in the nation. Why doesn't anyone crack down on them and try to stop it? But all it takes is there parents to say that they have been transferred or something. I have heard of schools actually housing kids and they don't live with their parents and stay with another wrestler. How is that right or even fair? No team will be able to compete against a team who can just stack up every year. It's like they are already college wrestlers in high school. Do you think it is right for teams to do this?
Foley: You put way too much passion into this email for me to even think about ignoring it. Is transferring in high school "fair?" Blargh. Probably not when you think of sports in a regionalized sense, but sports have become something much more financially motivated, which means that even high school athletes have a "right" to become free agents. If I thought that taking my kid to Apple Valley would earn him a $200k college scholarship, and the upfront cost (risk) was minimal or at least manageable, I'd have to consider the option.
College costs are simply out of control. If a student takes on even $100k of undergrad debt, they become tied to a number so large that it restricts their future life choices. I know medical students with a total estimated post-graduation debt exceeding $500,000, including undergrad. This is for the HEALERS, not even the dirty, low-down lawyering types, but the people we ask to save our lives and treat our illnesses. Do they deserve to be in for a half-million bucks? Stop yourself before you reply they make it back, because in fact they don't.
So, yes, it is unfair to a system that ranks regionalism as the root of all competitive sport. However, this is America and regionalism is not nearly as important as straight cash, homie.
Reader update on Josh Budke from Chad ...
I always laugh a little bit when my friends watch "The Season" and mention "that Budke guy" when talking about the story. I know him quite well actually.
After graduating from Iowa, he accepted a job in Cedar Rapids (25 miles north of Iowa City) selling insurance plans/benefits to large and small businesses. Shortly after, he became a volunteer assistant coach at my high school, Cedar Rapids Washington. Ironically enough, I soon found out that his younger brother became engaged to my cousin who lives in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area. Needless to say, our families became close and I got to know Josh very well.
He joined the coaching staff my sophomore year and basically served as my personal coach during my junior and senior seasons. At the time, his wife became pregnant with their second child and he was going to walk away from coaching to spend more time with his family. He decided to stick it out for two more seasons until I graduated and, to this day, I am still thankful for that. I graduated from high school in 2006, by the way.
Josh and his wife just had their fourth kid and I believe he helps out in the room when he gets a chance. It took me awhile to gain the courage to ask him about his senior season at Iowa. Both Josh and his father will tell you that he didn't quit the team, although ESPN portrayed it that way.
A couple interesting facts/tidbits:
In "The Season" when they are talking about Josh and show him packing up all of his brackets at his parents' house, they show a rural farm house in the middle of the winter portraying that Josh was a "country boy." His father was once a very successful dentist in the Cedar Falls area and patented a couple dentistry tools that allowed him to retire much earlier than expected. I can assure you that Josh didn't grow up in an old farm house.
Josh is one of the most straight-laced and dedicated people I know. At the end of "The Season" he is shown marrying his high school sweetheart. She once told me a story about how Josh drank his first full beer after the end of his career as a Hawkeye. Pretty crazy to think about.
Q: Olympic wrestling predictions? Predictions for the coming Division I college wrestling season?
Foley: We can hold off on the Division I stuff for a few weeks or months, but here are the picks that I've been submitting around the Internet. Please note that my picks would cost Mike Novogratz $750k. I hope he's on the hook for more.
Also, for those of you who like a good bet, there is some great value on the field picks at this Olympics. Many of the books are putting a money line for/against a wrestler to win the gold medal. Think Burroughs is coming home with the hardware? The line is set at +140, meaning you bet $100 for $140 profit. Hell, maybe that's Novo's plan to pay for all those gold medals?
48 kilos: Hitomi Sakamoto (Japan)
55 kilos: Saori Yoshida(Japan)
63 kilos: Nasanburmaa Orchibat (Mongolia)
72 kilos: Ekaterina Bukina (Russia)
55 kilos: Shujin Li (China)
60 kilos: Omid Noroozi (Iran)
66 kilos: Justin Lester (USA)
74 kilos: Roman Vlasov (Russia)
84kilos: Nazmi Avulca (Turkey)
96 kilos: Artur Aleksanyan (Armenia)
120 kilos: Riza Kayaalp (Turkey)
55 kilos: Djamal Otarsultanov (Russia)
60 kilos: Franklin Gomez (Puerto Rico)
66 kilos: Yabrail Hasanov (Azerbaijan)
74 kilos: Jordan Burroughs (USA)
84 kilos: Jake Herbert (USA)
96 kilos: Reza Yazdani (Iran)
120 kilos: Chuluunbat Jargalsaikhan (Mongolia)
Q: What is the record for consecutive Division I wrestling championships, and by what school?
-- R. Smith
Foley: No big surprises here. Though looking through the list of champions it's pretty clear that it only takes a minor hiccup to offset a nice streak.
1: Iowa, 9, 1978-1986
2: Oklahoma A&M, 7, 1937-1942, 1946 (not held from 1943-1945)
3: Iowa, 6, 1995-2000
Q: In the United States, a fifteen-year-old freshman in high school can weigh up to 285 pounds and wrestle. However, an adult in the Olympics must weight no higher than 265 pounds. What's up with that?
-- W. Taft
Foley: I'd blame fast food and football. We Americans are growing larger by the year, and since high school sports are about inclusion, we've upwardly adjusted weight classes to reconcile our tubbiness.
Our size just isn't easy to replicate on a massive scale (pun intended) outside of our borders. Polynesians tend to grow large, there are certainly a few sizable Russians in the mix, and some scattered enclaves of enormousness exist exists elsewhere in the world. However, nobody does average weight on a large proportion than the American people.
This is the most fun you can have with your weight on the Internet.
What is so interesting about this graph is how the oil-rich countries of Qatar, Kuwait and UAE are among the ten heftiest in the world. No question that this has something to do with the wealth within this area of the world. Add rich foods together with the lack of exercise that companies extraordinary high income levels, and voila you have some porkers. As previously mentioned, the graph also sites Micronesia, Samoa and Tonga representing the Polynesians. I'll withhold comments on the Croats and the Greeks for fear of Hellenic retribution, but I think we can all make our own assumptions as to why the Greeks might be a bit heftier than even their Italian neighbors.
I know what you're thinking right now ... " some dudes brainwashed Derek to off the prime minister of Micronesia." Yes, the simple mention of Micronesia equates to Zoolander.
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