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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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?
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?
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 ...