Foley's Friday Mailbag: Feb. 22, 2013

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? Access archives.

Like most of you, I've spent the week since the IOC's announcement cycling through the stages of grief. At times I'm so angry that crazy homicidal plots creep into my subconscious, but then at other times I'm hopelessly optimistic that the world will see the fallacy of the IOC's power and rebel en masse. But mostly I'm confused and saddened. Wrestling and the connection it has to the world and humanity is as much my beat as anything else, and to see the most privileged men in the world rip opportunity from the arms of the hard-working under-privileged makes me crazed.

Fortunately I get to write about these frustrations.

Last week's article was the most shared in the history of InterMat. As a writer it was humbling to read your emails, but as a fan of the sport it was also encouraging to see that article and the myriad videos and memes of the Internet get passed around to our family, friends and acquaintances. Getting the word out is the first step in improving our situation and as a community we've done well to announce our displeasure. Time is a great healer, but for us it's our greatest enemy. Please keep up the pressure.

I'm narrowing in on a new story, but in the meantime give this Bloomberg article a once-over and try to share it across your social networks.

On a lighter note you should read this incredible think piece on the Die Hard franchise. I especially think that we can see parallels in the author's final paragraph ...

All those heroes who once stood for certainty, fearlessness and unwavering confidence have been swept away, their statues toppled -- and the one still standing is the one who represents fear, anxiety, frustration, uncertainty and, despite it all, irrational hope. This is a jittery world, and increasingly so, and complex beyond understanding, and at times it all seems stitched together by the barest of threads, and this feeling only gets worse as you get older. Expertise, it turns out, offers little solace. So it makes sense that the best, most enduring modern hero is not one who vows to wrap his muscular arms around the world and hold it all together. It's the one who promises that, when it all falls apart, you can still hope to hobble away from it, limping on your glass-shredded feet, bloodied but somehow still intact.

To your questions ...

Q: If the IOC decision to drop wrestling from the Olympics holds up, will this change the direction of current OTC residents who currently have college eligibility (i.e. Destin McCauley)?
-- Paul B.

Foley: It could certainly impact their decision to compete. Destin McCauley would likely see out this cycle, but whether a limited future prompts hard work, or for the young to find a new employ is a personal decision. The final verdict on the future of wrestling won't be known until September, so most of these life-altering decisions can be postponed. For now his focus should remain on the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

I think RTC's have been a great addition to collegiate wrestling. As a former coach, I think having a mature set of 24 to 34-year-old wrestlers training and competing alongside the college kids shows positive habits. It was certainly a positive influence for my team to have RTC guys training at Virginia.

Q: How is it possible that Big Ten scholarship wrestlers are having problems wrestling a full match at this point in the season. I've seen a number of instances where a highly ranked wrestler (e.g. Andrew Alton) just "broke" due to being gassed out. I know that the Altons had a unique situation, but yet and still how is this even a discussion topic?

Shouldn't I presume that any top quality D1 wrestler is able/ready to go flat out for 15 minutes if necessary? I know guys are cutting real weight and all but it just seems ridiculous to me that conditioning is even a discussion topic. Please weigh in and help clarify.
-- Bryan R.

Foley: Brother, wrestling is a tough sport, and though many of these horses can run, there are times when bad sleep, diet, or suspensions due to drinking can set the body off course. Chalk it up to circumstance and remember how sore you are after running three miles. They deserve to be held accountable, but save your righteous indignation for the conference tournament.

Q: I think it's a shame that there is a huge shortage of tickets this year for the NCAAs due to it being held at a smaller venue in Des Moines. Who decides where the NCAA tournament is held each year and what criteria is used in their selection process?
-- Randy B.

Foley: I spoke to Jeff Jarnecke at the NCAA (great guy) and he filled me in on how they selected the cities and why there was such a decrease in the number of available seats. Basically we hadn't had a sellout before 2009, and because bids are set four years in advance the thinking became that Des Moines could be the first sellout. Well, we went ahead and sold out 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 even with substantial increases in price. Now we have fans who can't attend.

Overall there are about 10k fewer seats this year, but on the positive side the committee will be taking bids on the next four-year cycle this year and should announcer a winner, or winners by the end of the 2013. There is a CHANCE that the committee could find a semi-permanent location, though the details behind such a decision are numerous and confusing. The NCAA would love to have a permanent location like baseball enjoys in Omaha, but it would take a significant investment by a major city to make that dream a possibility. (Just point me to the beer ...)

Let's just be happy that our problem is not having enough seats, instead of not having enough fans.

Q: I would like to see more coverage of junior college wrestling. The JUCO Nationals are Feb. 22-23 in Des Moines, Iowa. Will Intermat run a preview? Many great JUCO wrestlers have gone on to successful careers at D-1 and D-2 schools.
-- Dennis R. S

Foley: Your wish is our command. Johnnie Johnson is going to be providing JUCO coverage for InterMat, including photos.

Q: As a fan of both wrestling and MMA, I have been impatiently waiting for fighters from the Caucasus region of Russia to get into American MMA. Well it has finally started to happen with recent events in both Bellator and the UFC. I am curious about the way that these guys are trained in order to have such superb/exciting technique and killer instinct. If I keep Googling Chechen fighters I may end up on a homeland security watch list (try it ... you'll understand) so I thought you might be able to help me out based on your travels. Additionally, do you know if the major U.S. MMA organizations have scouts out there in the mountains searching for future prospects?
-- Dave

Foley: I don't have any personal experience in the Caucuses, but the evidence of their toughness is in the number of vicious knockouts they've secured over the past two years. There are about a dozen fighters from Chechnya and Dagestan who are blowing through the UFC and Bellator. I've been doing some research for an upcoming story in FIGHT! and can tell you that after they win their fights that each of these fighters heads straight back to Russia. Guess it was my own na´vetÚ but I would have thought they'd have stayed in the states, drank mai tais and flirted with our women. Guess they still love home, and that it's only the opportunity to fight in America they find ultra-compelling.


The NCAA is the OG IOC.

The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows ...

Q: As we all know A.C. Slater was a stud grappler, played by Mario Lopez. The upcoming film "Foxcatcher" has Channing Tatum playing Mark Schultz. With both Lopez and Tatum playing premier wrestlers (granted one is fictional) which actor would win in a wrestling match?
-- Brian

Foley: Channing Tatum is immensely more likable and is playing Mark Shultz. Magic Mike by 5.

Q: Has the NCAA ever considered giving 1 point per minute of riding time? I think of Nick Moore's 3-plus minutes of riding time against Cody Yohn recently, and Kyle Dake's 6+ minutes against Frank Molinaro in the NCAA finals. Do you personally think it would be a good idea?
-- Wes F.

Foley: Fantastic idea for guys that are good on top, but I think you'd see the matches slow to a crawl as guys tried to hand on for that second minute instead of battling it out on their feet.

By your rules Jesse Jantzen would've racked up an average of five extra points a match, and he was already good enough for OW in 2004.

Q: Since we need more made-for-TV events, can you make this one happen -- at the end of the World Team Trials in June, a FOLKSTYLE exhibition between (likely four-time champ) Kyle Dake and Jordan Burroughs? I'm thinking Kid Dynamite rides Burroughs out, trades two escapes for one Burroughs takedown, and beats the Olympic champ 3-2. OK, maybe not. But wouldn't it be awesome?
-- Ronald M.

Foley: I floated this idea to a few friends and each became crazed, and Muir immediately started crafting a line. Super matches are a fun idea and with expert marketing and willing participants they could become media events. Why don't we let the IOC decision blow over and then we'll revisit in September.

Who knows, these matches might be part of a new professional league that exists in a post-Olympic world.

Cael Sanderson on Jay Mohr Sports fighting the loss of wrestling in the Olympics ...


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9point3 (1) about 5 years ago
Andrew Alton had conditioning issues his freshman season as well. I wonder if he just does not have the physical ability to get in better shape? I know that the coaches are aware of his "lung" issues and are most likely working his butt off. Do you think he might have reashed his aerobic peak?
trfoley (1) about 5 years ago
I'm unclear on whether Alton has hit his aerobic peak, but cutting weight does have an effect on conditioning. if he's sucking too much week-to-week it could account for his fading late in matches. I trust that he's trying because I seriously doubt he can hit cruise control in that room.
CoachC (1) about 5 years ago
More points for riding time? It is completely ironic that this topic came up because I was thinking about this in the morning. I am still po'd about wrestling being dropped, or potentially dropped, but one thing that has been mentioned is that wrestling needs to "grow" with the times, or something idiotic like that. Freestyle and Greco have no riding time. You get only so long to actually turn for points, and then back to your feet. Riding time in collegiate is about as arcane as you can be now. Pinning is the name of the game, and if you can't pin'em, turn 'em. I can't stand going to the Beast and seeing refs let HS wrestlers ride to win. Completely outside the nature of wrestling. No Olympic champ has won on riding time. Get it out! And to those who did not wrestle in college, try losing on riding time when you kept getting to your feet and then having the guy drop to your heels. Completely sucks!.
trfoley (1) about 5 years ago
Turning is a part of our traditional style of wrestling, and was adopted (in sorts) by FILA for international competition. Wrestling on the mat can be exciting, and because it's so physically taxing to be ridden, there is more opportunity for scoring once the match returns to the feet.

We have a hybrid style of wrestling, and though it's not perfect I think it's the most exciting traditional form I've ever watched.
rjbielat (2) about 5 years ago
According to my dad, who was a small-college wrestler in the early 1970s, they used to award a 2nd point for gaining a 2-minute advantage in riding time. Does anyone else recall that, or is his memory fading?
matkovich (1) about 5 years ago
According to there was a period in the late 60's when riding time was 2 pts for 2:00 or more of riding time.
trfoley (1) about 5 years ago
Good stuff! Thanks for the additional information!
irishdevil84 (1) about 5 years ago
go back and watch Gable's match vs larry owings... he scored 2 points at the end of the match due to 2 minutes of riding time. so yes they did in fact do it. not sure when it ended. that was 1970...
rjbielat (1) about 5 years ago
Ha! So the old man's not crazy. :)
donkeylips (1) about 5 years ago
The whole "Foley's Friday Mail Bag" is already done. The poor writing. The inaccurate facts. The baseless arguments. It's all almost as bad as the horrible opinion. You're a terrible writer who "fills" an article with youtube videos. Jesus, can't you come up with something with a little more substance. I'd rather what Foxnews or CNN than read this garbage.
The Pope (2) about 5 years ago
donkeylips is an odd name for an ex - who is this chick, Foley?
The Pope (1) about 5 years ago
...and what did you do to her?
DrNuveen (2) about 5 years ago
Intellectual elitism and indirect egomaniacal defensiveness have no place in critique of wrestling or Mr. Foley's comments. There are many of us with excellent educations and a life of wrestling past that support the sport and his contributions with daily readership. Please ignore the haters and proceed to stimulate your readership with any form of media you see fit! In fact, I greatly enjoy the videos.
spencerszewczyk (1) about 5 years ago
Donkeylips, it's a free country. Nobody is forcing you to read Foley's articles or comment on them.
LoneWolf (1) about 5 years ago
There isn't a shortage of tickets because Wells Fargo Arena is a bit smaller. It's because the event is in Iowa. Tickets for the general public went on sale last year and they sold out immediately. That's what happens when you have a huge wrestling event in Iowa. Even if the arena held 5000 more and was bigger than St. Louis, the ticket situation would be NO DIFFERENT. People in Iowa would have bought up those additional tickets, too. In fact, I would propose that Des Moines should be the permanent host of the NCAA championship!!! They are the best wrestling fans in the world and the only ones who deserve to be the hosts. Also, no other sport insists on having the largest venue possible for their championship. The Super Bowl was in the Superdome. The BCS title game isn't played at Tennessee, Michigan, or Penn State - just a "typical" stadium. The Final Four is sometimes in domes, but it is also sometimes in regular arenas. Any arena with 15,000+ seats is fine for the NCAA championship. Get over it, already!
trfoley (1) about 5 years ago
Loved your howl, Lone Wolf.

I agree that Iowa could be a smart location for the NCAA to choose for a semi-permanent home to the Championships. Fans in Iowa are certainly passionate and are willing to pay the money to watch the best perform. The Hawkeyes average attendance in 2013 will be close to 9k fans per dual meet, which is TWICE as good as any lacrosse team in the country, and bigger than PSU.

However, there are some merits to holding it in a larger arena outside of Iowa. First, if you have 10k more seats (like St. Louis) that will make for 30k more session tickets and a boatload more revenue for the NCAA. The SuperBowl makes money off of TV revenue, while wrestling is still a gate-driven event. More money (with flatline costs) means more profit and more stability for the sport at the top level. Also, if the NCAA chooses a city with a larger population base and easier airport access there would be substantially more media at the event, which of course drives interest. (Omaha attracts media now, but that's because it's been the event location for several years.)

If wrestling continues to sellout arenas of 100k+ and maintain it's intense feel, then we do need to inspect the secondary and tertiary benefits of hosting it in any number of locations.