Foley's Friday Mailbag: Sept. 28, 2012

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.

Do you want to read a past mailbag? View archives.

Did you hear that Kyle Dake and David Taylor are wrestling? It's kinda big news 'round here. The pairing off of NCAA champions will be a season-long event, with Dake staying up at 165 pounds all season, but as if to ensure against a last-minute cut to 157 pounds, the New York native has signed up to wrestle Taylor at the NWCA All-Star Classic on Nov. 3 at American University. Yes, tickets are still available.

Many of your questions centered around the fallout from the Dake vs. Taylor match, and though I had to pull some of the repeats, I've kept three that I think capture the excitement for the event and how there could be several outcomes and storylines in the weeks following the event.

To your questions ...

Q: That 'Gangnam Style' video is a complete joke. What an embarrassment. As if the "rolling around in tights with men" stigma wasn't bad enough, they look like complete idiots to say the least. Not one of the kids would get an interview in my world. Disgrace
-- James F.

Foley: There is a history to sport teams making spoof videos of songs that go viral, and some of them are actually more insulting than the one you've cited from the Duke wrestling team. But you're right, there was something cringe-worthy going on during this video. It felt insulting to see wrestlers writhing around in their singlets, something we see as a game uniform but others see as a half-homoerotic expression. I understand that some spoofs are constructed to play into a stereotype in order to get across some subtle message. That doesn't seem to have been Duke's intention, and if it was then they missed, and they missed way more than just a bit outside.

Why did Duke make this video? The wrestling program been working hard with Coyte Cooper at the NWCA to create a marketing campaign to get fans interested in the team. This video wasn't Cooper's creation, but the official team account on Twitter has been very active in promoting the video and it's viral success, so it's safe to assume head wrestling coach Glen Lanham approved the video prior to distribution.

The second influence is Flowrestling and that stupid, ridiculous, childish, half-perverted social networking ploy they pushed this summer called #bulging. For those who live in the utopia of a pre-#bulging world, it is essentially the website asking high school kids to romp around public in their singlet in an effort to garner attention for themselves. It's a wildly misguided attempt to earn some type of broader respect, but fell flat. It's sophomoric idiocy, far below the proud tradition of wrestling in America. The Duke team seems to have been emboldened by Flo's moronic bullshit.

The Duke team has a lot to be excited about this year. Hiring a new coach means that they can change the direction of their program. Coach Lanham is one of the good guys in the sport, somebody who has earned universal respect from the coaching community. They will move past this kneecapping of their respectability and hopefully put a few guys into the NCAA tournament.

You should still look at their resume! Though they lack the social skills of their neighbors in Charlottesville, but I remember recruiting plenty of bright teens that chose Durham over Morningside Heights. Honey, you're just angry right now ...

On a somewhat related note, I first heard this song in Hawaii a few months ago and thought to myself "It's sooo much different here than the mainland."

Q: Now that Kyle Dake and David Taylor have accepted the matchup, what are two more matches you'd want to watch? I want the rematch between Logan Stieber and Jordan Oliver.
-- Harold E.

Foley: Greed! The wrestling world gives you gold and now you want platinum. Shame on you.

I'm very grateful to Dake and Taylor for providing us such compelling early-season fodder for the mailbag, but I'll go ahead and go with you, Harry. Time to make some more dream matchups!

1. Jordan Oliver vs. The OTHER Steiber: There are so many excellent stories of revenge, but rarely does it happen that those who've been maligned must find their solace in the destruction of their enemy's family. I'd take JO all day long, but it would be a super compelling storyline and because JO is headed up to 141 pounds, it' the only way those two names are going to meet up.

2. Ed Ruth vs. Steve Bosak: Just a pair of defending NCAA champions who aren't scared to wrestle the same weight class. We are rarely treated to more than one NCAA champ in a weight, and though waiting until later in the season (possibly Southern Scuffle) might happen, it won't be under the same spotlight.

3. Matt McDonough vs. Nico Megaludis: A rematch to kick off the event would be, uh, sweet.

Q: Does Kyle Dake feel pressure to bump to 165 for the year in order to win the Hodge?
-- @Rob_SwagginU

Cornell's Kyle Dake gets interviewed by ESPN moments after capturing the NCAA championship at 157 pounds (Photo/Tony Rotundo,
Foley: Kid Dynamite isn't scared, pressured, cajoled, shoved, intimidated, or MADE to do anything he doesn't want to do! Somebody should start making "Kyle Dake is NOT Impressed" memes? Unshakeable towhead, that Kyle Dake.

I don't know Dake at all, but he seems to love wrestling and embrace the competition. He wants to win and seems pretty good at doing so year to year. Dake's motivation for the bump isn't known, but a Hodge can't be the cause. The Hodge is a lock for any four-time NCAA champion and his chances of winning that award were much better at 157 pounds where there wasn't a defending NCAA champion, Taylor, and 2011 NCAA finalist Tyler Caldwell of Oklahoma.

I'd guess that Dake made the bump for any number of reasons, but it had to occur to him that if he wins four titles at four weight classes in four years he could be in contention as the greatest of all time. And that ain't no small thing.

Q: What happens if Taylor/Dake doesn't make the finals at 165 pounds? Will the wrestling world take a hit?
-- @BrandonfrmNJ

Foley: Not me. If one of those two guys doesn't make the finals I win $200. I'm not telling you which one. I don't want to move the lines.

Q: You talked about whether Jon Jones' improvement in MMA is enough to carry him in the Midlands, and basically said it won't.

While that may be true for Jones, how about some other examples. Mark Schultz did gymnastics (and was pretty good) and only started wrestling his junior year of high school. He won California states his senior year, and followed it with three NCAA titles, and Olympic gold, and two World titles.

Schultz is obviously an extreme example, but Jimmy Pedro is another good one. He is a superstar in judo, and was also able to pick up an EIWA title for Brown.

If an athlete pushes himself to excel in one sport, don't you think that can translate to success on the mat?
-- David, Massachusetts

Foley: I absolutely think that great athletes can translate their talents into several sports, especially brothers like judo and wrestling, and distant cousins like gymnastics and wrestling. The translation is much less apparent if you tried to jump from basketball to wrestling, or football to gymnastics. But those that have some crossover, even gymnastics and wrestling, can mean the best athletes in those sports can make a lateral move. Just ask Michal Jordan!


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adfuller03 (1) about 5 and a half years ago
How about Dake as the Honey Badger?! Move up to 165 a challenge? Dake don't care...
Connstrosity (1) about 5 and a half years ago
"But you're right, there was something cringe-worthy going on during this video. It felt insulting to see wrestlers writhing around in their singlets, something we see as a game uniform but others see as a half-homoerotic expression."

Really? That's not what Jordan Burroughs said.

Don't know about most people, but I'll take JB at his word.
trfoley (1) about 5 and a half years ago
JB wasn't verifying that it happened, just that he liked the video. After I watched the video, I read the snippet on HuffPo and read the comments, which support my argument that it's reinforcing negative stereotypes. As for the original email, it came from a Duke Wrestling alumni.
olyfarmstead (1) about 5 and a half years ago
#bulging? I always learn the oddest things when I read your posts.
Connstrosity (1) about 5 and a half years ago
trfoley (2) about 5 and a half years ago
The 1-percent argument seems like you might be lumping me in with the Wall Street mess. I am not affiliated with any I-Bank ... yet.

Wrestling deserves better than this video. I know several Duke alums and to a person they've been horrified by this video, including the person who emailed me. There are some who fail to see that this wrestling video of Duke wrestlers humping the ground was a benefit to the program or the sport. The intention to support and promote their program was in place and commendable, and even the majority of their actions were fun/funny. But those were spoiled by some very awkward moments of sexualization.

To elaborate on the sexualization. Wrestling has always occupied a unique relationship with masculinity and is both seen as barbaric (as described recently at a conference for traditional sports held in Germany), or as homoerotic (selling of Turkish Oil wrestling videos within the gay community.) The American wrestling community gets both sides of this from friends in high school and college. We are well aware that soem view wearing singlets as "gay." However, we ignore them, hardly giving the subject a thought. UNTIL you see this video and a student-athlete wrestler is humping the ground and sexualizing the singlet. Or standing in the middle of the street popping their hips out to expose their #bulge. Those actions are lowest common denominator kinda stuff, take no imagination and alter the image of our sport.

I'm not a curmudgeon, it's just my job is to look at these topics from a broader perpective. Intermat is a journalistic site, which means we take a fair look at the wrestling world by providing readers all the facts and on occasion taking informed opinions on topics. By airing the concerns of many readers we fostered a discussion that may lead to better oversight by coaches who can both see the benefit of viral video, and how Duke's fell short. This could generate a more creative and substantive way to promote wrestling. Our charge is not to shamelessly promote every idea/product/person/thing to come through the wrestling pipeline. We vet, discuss, and inform. The sport deserves that type of professionalism in media coverage and criticism is the best way to achieve better results.
Philawrestling (2) about 5 and a half years ago
Your own personal opinion about pop culture and current trends seems a bit out of touch. The duke video is a fun distraction and from what is posted has overwhelming positive support. Get with it and open your mind!!!
Connstrosity (2) about 5 and a half years ago
First, I want to thank you for taking the time to answer my comment. I know I left quite a mouthful, and you certainly had other matters to attend to. I truly appreciate your explanation; it was good to see some of the thought behind your article. I still believe that there are several overarching points that we disagree with, but I can respect your opinion.
The concern you express for wrestling being wrongly interpreted as barbaric/homoerotic is understandable. I (and most of the people who watched the video) don't feel the video was "sexualizing the singlet", nor do I believe that Duke's video "fell short", but I do see how you and others could come to that conclusion.
Duke can only be glad that the majority did not see their video as you and some of Duke's alumni did. And as a friend of several Duke alumni, I can assure you that not all of them were horrified by the video.

Again, thank you for the reply. We can agree to disagree.
rick smith (1) about 5 and a half years ago
has there been any D1 team to have 10 all americans at one time?? what is the most any D1 team has ever had had at one time??

trfoley (1) about 5 and a half years ago
Thanks for the response.
Sponteau (2) about 5 and a half years ago
trfoley (1) about 5 and a half years ago
Cherry picking YouTube quotes is not substantial evidence to change my opinion on this video. The team did not fall short in an effort to create a buzz for their program, and I never said that was what happened. These views and dispersal come from the crassness of the piece, not a celebration of Duke wrestling's creativity, intelligence or athletic prowess. Haters are gonna hate, and critics are going to criticize, it's unavoidable. Hopefully Duke wrestling can once again be known for their on-the-mat performance and not limited to this video.