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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I've decided to kill off Cheap Tilt Radio in favor of a new podcast name and format. The response has been very positive, so I brought in a few friends with big podcasts and asked how we could make a more marketable program. The ideas were impressive, and we've made some changes.
The show will now be focused on a weekly conversation with someone in wrestling. The topics might be timely, but mostly this will be fan's chance to see them outside the lens of their opinions of current events and focus more on their journey and ideas. It's a dissimilar format, but I am reminded of the warning announced before ESPN's B.S. Report, "This is a free-flowing conversation that occasionally touches on mature subjects." The weekly conversation will be followed up with a few minutes talking news of the week with Mike Rioridan and capped off with some lines set by Brian Muir. The name has been changed to "Back Points with T.R. Foley" and will be published on InterMat and also available on iTunes every Tuesday.
On to your questions ...
Trying to figure out if the sellout of the All Star Match is a good thing? Anyone know the real number of sold tickets? Is it only 3,000-4,000 or so? Any attendance figures from the past? For example, if another venue that did not sold out had 4,000 fans, is a 3,000 fan sell out that newsworthy? Considering most Iowa, Penn State, and Oklahoma regular dual meets get more than 3,000 fans. What are your thoughts?
-- WrestlingGear.com (Facebook Status)
Foley: I like the implied zing of this question. Nobody disputes the fact that the 2011 NWCA All-Star Classic was a failure, partially because nobody actually showed up to the event. That lack of a crowd at the event made the matches feel less important to online viewers (those who actually had a watchable feed). The NWCA decided to kick this tourney to Washington D.C. to pull on more populations center and ensure that more programs could participate. What WrestlingGear.com wants to know is should we consider a sold-out crowd of 3k a victory, or could we have gotten more? Spicy.
The NWCA made the perfect move in choosing American University and their 3k seat arena. There is an intimacy that will come into play, but it's not an overreach, there was never a legitimate concern that they'd be unable to fill the seats. By ensuring a crowd they can now look at the live feed more thoroughly, and work on producing a more entertaining event. Its largest test run of the event they could do without risking another total failure. Putting the meet at Carver-Hawkeye wouldn't guarantee 15k fans, especially since Iowa chooses not to participate.
The best events are the ones where the action is showcased. The NWCA All-Star Classic will put the spotlight on the wrestlers and the fun they're having in competition. I see the event turning into a Daytona 500-like experience -- wrestling's kickoff affair, something for everyone to get excited about months before the names of the competitors are even announced. This may never be as lucrative as the National Duals, but I think it can build excitement and interest in the sport.
In last week's mailbag you talked about Flowrestling's moronic ideas. How do you feel about Flowrestling's immaturity? I see them as trying to appeal to a younger crowd, though I do admit they come up with some weird ideas. Do you think they are a bad influence on wrestling?
-- Dom P.
Foley: Flo provides a different service to their customers than we here at InterMat. I respect and like Martin. He's sharp and engaging and his idea has allowed the wrestling community a chance to grow and to have an online resource for watching more of the sport we love. He also makes a ton of money running the site, which proves that this sport isn't entirely broke!
There are times, like what happened with the #bulging on Twitter, and the influence the company had on Duke wrestling video, that I find their immaturity grating. But you're right, they focus on high school kids as a method of growing their base of subscribers. FloInsider ($100 annually) and Technique Wave ($7 monthly) aren't cheap but when you get the kids, you get their parents, too. It's smart business. Grabbing the attention of high school wrestlers on Facebook and Twitter takes relating to your audience, which is why they use sophomoric tactics to attract, well, sophomores. That's Flo's business. Ours is journalism. Where we do overlap is rankings, but I obviously side with the talent here at InterMat. Nobody will ever be a better judge of high school wrestling talent than Josh Lowe. Ever. The guy's brilliant. We've also been putting out the best collegiate rankings for almost 20 years.
Bad for wrestling? Of course not. Just different.
Q: Have you heard anything regarding former three-time Michigan state champion and national champion Freddie Rodriguez? He did not wrestle his senior season in Michigan where he would've been competing for a fourth state title. He should be a freshman or sophomore now in college. He was verbally committed to Michigan State.
-- Dreux N.
Freddie Rodriguez originally committed to Michigan State (Photo/MichiganGrappler.com)Foley: (Work, work, work.)
I looked at this message board post and was convinced that every answer might be right, and guess what, most of them were!
I called Iowa City High School head wrestling coach Cory Connell on Thursday morning to ask him about Freddie Rodriguez and learned that he IS enrolled in the school. He did NOT graduate from high school in Michigan. He is NOT currently eligible. He DID fight an MMA fight in 2011. The school is in an appeal process, but they won't know anything for few weeks. Rodriguez is signed up to wrestle at 126 pounds at the Preseason Nationals in Iowa.
Q: What is the status of Austin Ormsbee, the Blair grad who went to Oklahoma State and did not make it to the wrestling season?
Foley: According to Kutztown assistant wrestling coach Kriss Bellanca, "Austin Ormsbee, Blair Academy, 2011, has signed a scholarship letter and enrolled in school at Kutztown University, Pa., and will have four years of eligibility left."
The Monroeville Four: Logan Stieber, Hunter Stieber, Chris Phillips, and Cam Tessari (Photo/Mark Ransick)Q: I was wondering if you knew anything about what's going on with Chris Phillips? He's arguably the greatest upperweight in Ohio history, and from what I understand has really gained his fire back while training with Ohio State. I could really see him as someone who would make a massive impact for the Buckeyes at either 165 or 174. The thing is he's not listed on their roster. Do you know what's up with that?
-- Mike, Cleveland
Foley: My guy in Ohio (I HAVE A GUY) tells me that the dream is over for Chris Phillips. He saw all his pals wrestling in Columbus and gave it his best shot, but ultimately grades became an issue. He won't be wrestling for the Buckeyes and regardless of the reason, it's unfortunate because he was a big talent and will be missed.
Q: Over the years, there seems to be a recurring question that is almost always asked to my college wrestling coach John Oostendorp at the end of his interviews. If he had the opportunity for an MMA fight pitted against Rulon Gardner, would he take it. They had some history with one another in college and after in Greco. Call me biased, but I have to go with Coach O! Thoughts?
-- Kohawk Tough
Coach O was a hammer at IowaFoley: Ha! I don't know Coach O, but I like his chances. Being good in wrestling isn't always an indicator of future success in MMA. In Rulon's case although he actually has the very best background for entering MMA (NCAA and Greco-Roman) but I think he lacks the athleticism necessary to carry him past another wrestler. If Coach O is anywhere from 190 pounds to 280 pounds and has even a modicum of mobility I think he'd come out on top. Ooh, does Coach O know BJJ?
Q: I just wanted to thank you for saying what you did about Trev Alberts. We need more writers like you letting the public know what a snake he really is (snake being the nicest word I can use). I asked Craig Sesker to write an article about the whole UNO situation, but there seems to be a hold up on that. I think there is book that could be written about it also, there is a lot of stuff that has been hidden to the public and if it got out he would be done. Thanks again for words about Trev.
Foley: My pleasure.
Fire Trev Alberts. He's a no-good, cold-hearted wimp.