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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The holidays are over, and all we have are a series of hangover from consuming too much turkey, buying too many presents, drinking too much booze, and watching too much wrestling.
What a problem to enjoy.
The 2012 Midlands and 2013 Southern Scuffle were both homerun events. The Evanston-based Midlands was probably stronger top to bottom, with some excellent matches all way down to seventh and eighth place. Of course the tournament didn't have Kyle Dake and David Taylor, but did feature several exciting post-graduate entries and a 197-pound finals featuring No. 1 vs. No 2. Fans were able to watch the finals live and for free on the Big Ten Network.
Meanwhile the Scuffle continued to grow under a combination of good marketing and excellent leadership. The tournament included five of the nation's top seven teams and featured finals at 165, 184, and heavyweight that featured five NCAA champions and competitors who were all No.1 and. No 2 at their respective weights. Fans were able to watch much of the Southern Scuffle online when signing up for $20 per month/$150 per year subscription.
We're lucky to have these options and should never forget that wrestling, while far from the best it can be, is certainly in its Golden Age.
To your questions ...
Q: When will they actually decide where the 2015 NCAAs will be held? I would think it would be soon right?
-- Frank C.
Foley: I reached out to the NCAA today and was forwarded to a few different offices. The likely answer is after this season when the Championship and Wrestling committees have the time to meet. Once they have their options and can review the proposals it should be just a few votes in Indianapolis, after which point we can critique!
-- Updated 11AM --
I spoke with some members of the NCAA and this is what they responded:
"The next bid cycle timeline has not been finalized, but we anticipate we will put out Request For Proposals (RFPs) in early spring (late April/Early May) and announce the 2015 site late summer (Late August/Early September). Please note that this is tentative and could be changed."
Q: I was looking through the rankings the other night and was wondering when we've had this many potential all-time greats in the college ranks. This is obviously best case scenario (for them not their opponents) and people will be gunning for everyone on this list, but the potential here is pretty amazing:
125: McDonough -- four-time finalist, three-time champ
133: L. Steiber -- four-time champ
149: Oliver -- three-time finalist, two-time champ
157: DSJ -- three-time finalist, two-time champ
165: Dake and Taylor
184: Ruth – three-time champ
197: Wright – three-time finalist, two-time champ
285: Nelson – three-time champ
This doesn't even include guys like Megaludis, Ness, Caldwell, and Howe who still have the chance to be multiple time finalists/champs. When all their careers are finished, how do you think this will compare to other eras?
-- Billy M.
Foley: We might have had similarly strong years, but never with this much publicity. The Internet has allowed wrestling fans to come together as a community to discuss and promote the day's best storylines. Also, as you noted, there is still plenty that needs to go right for much of that potential greatness to be realized. Maybe it'll all come crashing down?
Until that happens I'll choose to believe my own optimism. Right now, at this very moment, American folkstyle wrestling is the most-watched, most-profitable and most-followed traditional style in the history of the world. Much of this is due to technology. We can watch our stars compete at almost any time and usually for very little money. But we also have an audience will to read about the sport, which means that writers can write and tweeters can tweet.
Traditional styles have always faced the problem of popularity, but in figuring out that calculus we've not only been able to enjoy the sport now, but preserve it for future generations.
Q: After defeating Caldwell once and Taylor twice already this year, can anyone stop Dake from winning his fourth NCAA title
-- Gregg Y.
Foley: Your question seems so absolute when I think it's pretty clear after Wednesday that David Taylor has every chance to stop Kyle Dake!
Taylor has the skill set, coaching, and game plan to beat Dake and win a second NCAA tournament. Don't get me wrong, Kid Dynamite is a freak and he's the heavy favorite to make NCAA history in March, but it's far from certain. What's more interesting to me is how you phrased the question, as though this second win was the nail in the coffin. It got me thinking about storylines in epic novels and how those are sometimes portrayed on the big screen. We're about to take a sharp turn, so please keep your hands and feet inside the margins.
I like movie trailers. Apple Trailers, IMDB or Flixster, no matter where I am I'm searching for new movie trailers. If you watch as many trailers as I do you understand that companies often release three or four movie trailers in the lead up to a movie. Most of them are just retreads of scenes used in the first trailer set to new music. Other times it's the same music and a new scene or two added for effect. But every once in a great while you'll see two trailers lined up on the bottom and they will completely contradict each another.
For example, the movie "Promised Land" was first promoted with a very serious trailer about the consequences of gas fracking in Pennsylvania and the ulcer-inducing tension between capitalist oil salesman Matt Damon and environmentalist/fun-killer John Krasinski. The music played in the trailer was somber and ran behind scenes of gray Pennsylvania skies, images of crying babies and rolling footage of picturesque land turned brown, and specked with dead livestock.
I love Matt Damon, you could put him in an infomercial selling the Perfect Pancake and I'd pay just to keep the guy on screen. Simply put, I'm the first person in line for each and every Damon flick, but even I was missing this one in favor of taking a shower with broken glass, or re-reading Les Miserables.
I apparently wasn't alone in my Damon-induced depression because a few weeks later a NEW and much CHEERIER trailer came out with Jason Bourne and Jim from the Office (though this time ONLY on television -- keep an eye out). In the new one-minute trailer the duo was busy giving each other a ribbing over beers, and featured Damon hitching rides with locals at dusk in the back of beat up blue pickup truck -- locks blowing in the wind, beauty entreating visitors to part with their $12.50. (It worked, I tweeted evites to local members of the Matt Damon Fan Club to set up a movie night.)
The Dake vs. Taylor trailers going on in many people's heads are similarly as disparate. The facts remain the same, but the outlook and what they're trying to sell are very different. For Taylor fans the junior has become a figurehead for the program. He's popular, but he's also symbolic of Penn States turnaround on the mat. Their finals match will be his final chance at redemption, and their validation as the new dynasty in college athletics -- their fiefdom's Gladiator defeating the greatest Gladiator in the kingdom.
For Dake fans the imagery is more triumphant, a conquering boy-king ascending to the throne, a throne being resigned by Taylor's own coach. The scene reads and looks like something from great literature, and the trailer would be adequately epic.
Dake-Taylor exemplifies the centuries-old attraction of humans to wrestling, a sport so defined by effort and humbled in its conceit of man's wish to discover self through struggle that it allows for those accessible, realistic and marketable storylines of rivalry, courage and unconquerable greatness.
The story of Dake and Taylor is the story that we'll tell our sons and daughters and that they'll tell their grandchildren. No matter the outcome or perspective, this is the story that will survive the generations and help preserve the sport that many of us love so dearly.