Foley's Friday Mailbag: March 1, 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.

Three work weeks have passed since the announcement that wrestling might be eliminated from the Olympics in 2020, and slowly more information is coming to light about how we plan to pursue the problem.

Everyone with a voice box has sounded off about the indescribable lunacy of the decision, but the leaders of USA Wrestling and the Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (CPOW) are taking a more measured approach. FILA didn't do its job, and it's our task to do more than just direct anger at the IOC's executive board, but listen to what the IOC wants from wrestling. Is it rule changes? More women? More action?

The process is tedious -- effective lobbying takes time and relationship building. No amount of greased palms can deliver you what you want when votes are cast. That comes from personal relationships, and more investment in the Olympic movement. Right now America doesn't contribute any money to the IOC, and while that might seem justified, a more proactive and generous approach might've helped keep our interests in consideration.

The IOC consists of former athletes and business people from 79 countries. That's 79 interests, needs and wants. The business of changing their mind won't come from making the most trouble, or being the loudest advocate for the sport of wrestling. It'll take diplomacy, patience and consideration. We'll need to create media events in their countries that highlight the importance and history of wrestling. Gentle guidance, not head snapping.

But mostly the lobbying process will mean relaxing our throats to give our ears the chance to hear what needs to be done to repair our relationships and save our sport. That's true Cauliflower Diplomacy.

To your questions ...

Q: Why do we have riding time in college when it is not in middle school, high school, or the Olympics? And what other sport gives you a point for possession? I thought the name of the game was to PIN your opponent, not ride 'em bronco.
-- Joey B.

Foley: Because you asked a question that asks for a peek behind the curtain of history, I'm going to wind you around for a minute.

The goal in most traditional wrestling styles is to pin your opponent. In the American style of the sport, first popularized in the early 19th century by Irish and Scottish immigrants in New England, the pin was the only way to win a wrestling match. However, as life outside the barn halls of Vermont got more hectic and the sport increased in popularity (wrestling was arguably the most popular sport in America in the first two decades of the 20th century) promoters and rules committees at school boards began to shorten matches for the fans and added times as well.

Those rule changes have expanded to govern all types of scoring situations, moves and boundaries. American wrestling was once the wild collision of men filled with bull testosterone hashing out grudges. Today it's a friendlier, more accessible sport that rewards technique and trickery more than aggressiveness.

But we're not alone. After 600 years with no significant rule changes the Kirkpinar wrestling tournament added a time component to their oil wrestling competition. They've since added scoring, which has alienated traditionalists inside the country. The longest continuously competed athletic event in course of recorded human history is adding rules for the sake of fans. I like pins, but it's apparent that we need to understand that fan interest is what keeps us afloat.

Tune into this coming week's Back Points podcast and listen to Coyte Cooper recap what more we can do to promote fan-friendly rule changes.

Until then, "Ride 'em Bronco!"

Q: Based on your travels, what do wrestlers from other countries think about American folkstyle? Do they watch it? Do they know about the NCAAs? How do you think the top level Russians/Iranians would do in say the Midlands? I think a lot of them would be fine on their feet but hate all the funk rolls and eventually end up getting killed on bottom. I'd argue the wrestling community should push for it but the injury
What are your thoughts?
-- Bryan R.

Foley: The Russians and Iranians would be an awesome addition to any American-styled wrestling tournament. I'm sure that many of them wouldn't have to worry about what happens on bottom, since they on average have some of the best neutral attacks in the world.

The majority of wrestlers that I've met around the world want to know how I've done at the international level. In India this month there was little understanding of folkstyle's existence and no accommodations made for success at the NCAA level. I was even introduced at tournaments, and while many fans and wrestlers recognized the cauliflower ears to mean that I'd competed, it was my journalism that was mentioned. No terms existed to quickly inform the crowds of time spent as a wrestler or coach.

Mongolians have a better sense of American folkstyle. They keep a very close eye on the wrestlers who've come to America and have watched Turtogtokh, Ugi, Ganabayar and Minga compete through YouTube and Flo. Most of the talented wrestling population lives in the capital of Ulaanbaatar, so as you progress into the countryside there is less certainty about the American style (even as freestyle schools remain).

The best question is to ask yourself what you know of other traditional styles and how success is gauged in their competitions. Some Indians are contented to only wrestle Kushti. They receive money and acclaim and eventually they earn coveted jobs in the military, police force and working for the railroad. There are plenty of NCAA-obsessed wrestlers in America that follow a similar path.

Q: Do you think we will ever see women's wrestling at the college level? Has there ever been a women wrestling in college? Will we ever see a women's NCAA wrestling championship?
-- Gregg Y.

Foley: My man, we HAVE a women's wrestling at the collegiate level and it's growing every year. The Women's Collegiate Wrestling Association boasts 22 women's programs, with more coming every year! The WCWA even has a national dual team tournament. The women compete using FILA's freestyle rules.

Wrestling is the fastest growing women's sport at the high school level and the NYC public school system just announced a 16-team league complete with 12 weight classes.

Women are hitting the mats and making all wrestling fans proud.

Q: Why does Penn State shy away from the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals, and how do they remain No. 1?
-- Leo

Foley: They remain No. 1 because they are the best team in the country in terms of individual performance at the NCAAs. They choose not to wrestle the National Duals, and the reasons might change year to year, but I just don' think they see the upside. They have talents. They already wrestle the big teams and they're two-time defending NCAA champions. Why give up their edge?

Agree or disagree, they are doing what they feel is right for their program. If the National Duals become a compulsory NCAA event then they'll attend. Until that time, they are without question the top team in the country. If there are people who really think otherwise I know that Joey Odesssa will be setting lines for the team race for several sites. I suggest you lay down a mortgage payment and make some cash.

Q: Everyone is dying to see Kyle Dake and David Taylor go head-to-head once more in the NCAA finals. Any chance that either one of them is too focused on their third match and gets tripped up before the finals?
-- Tim M.

Foley: The temptation is to agree and give you a trope about how you can't look ahead, but I'll save you the speech. Kyle Dake and David Taylor will be in the finals. They're on that different planet, and unless they suffer a catastrophic injury in training, they'll be the two in the finals.

Multimedia Halftime

Gotta love a leader with a heart for the sport, and the passion to dismiss diplomacy in favor of full-throated attacks on referees. (We've ALL been there.)

Link: Bethlehem mayor ejected from wrestling tourney

Fortress CEO and longtime wrestling philanthropist Mike Novogratz took to CNBC to discuss his position within CPOW, an organization formed to lobby members of the IOC.

Link: Fortress' Novogratz 'wrestles' with Olympic Committee

Q: With Ed Ruth being a junior and king of the weight class, could you see Minnesota's Kevin Steinhaus trying to bulk up to 197 and switching with Scott Schiller in the Gopher lineup next season? Seems he would be a favorite for a title there.
-- John M.

Foley: Most college coaches aren't going to ask for one of their most talented wrestlers to move weights in order to dodge a tough opponent. However, I don't know that we've seen anyone as dominant as Ed Ruth, and to be honest depending on how things play out at NCAAs there is a chance that the Minnesota wrestler could make that decision in the offseason, giving the "Bear-Jew" time to bulk up and win an NCAA title.

Steinhaus is an absolute stud and one of the favorite wrestlers to discuss on the BP podcast. He deserves an NCAA title, and if he decides that bulking up is the best way to win, he'll have the support of the fans.

Q: It seems to me that Kyle Dake is getting far less attention than Cael Sanderson did four years ago despite the fact they are both going for No. 4. Is this a product of the fact that Cael was undefeated and Dake has several losses, or other factors such as program, personality etc.?
-- Josh Z.

Foley: Two is a couple, three is a few, and four is several, but it still feels wrong to read that he has "several" losses.

The wrestling media is larger than it was in 2001 so I think that Dake's quest is receiving much more attention overall. However, you're right in thinking that Sanderson was afforded more national media attention due to the fact he was both undefeated and the first wrestler capable of winning four titles since Pat Smith.

Should Dake win his fourth title he'll be lauded in the mainstream media for his achievement and possibly be mentioned as the better wrestler given his ability to win it across four weights.

As for personality and program, as a writer I think both favor Dake in terms of appeal and storyline.

Q: Given all the things that make our sport unique, do you ever see the advanced stats craze making its way into wrestling? Things like PER for basketball, WAR for baseball and DYAR for football are now routinely discussed whenever debates about MVPs and All-Stars come up. Because wrestling is an individual sport with only four ways of scoring, I don't believe it ever will but I'd love to hear your take.
-- Dan L.

Foley: The advanced stats craze has made its way into MMA, so it's difficult to write that we'll never see them appear in wrestling. I was recently contacted by a man who has been following interesting stats from the past ten years, and was impressed with things I didn't know, like how many wrestlers who placed at the 2012 NCAA tournament hadn't won a state championship. The answer is six.

Statistics make sports more accessible, and I'd welcome any meaningful role they could have in helping promote the sport to a new demographic of fan.

The problem with statistics is their applicability to on-the-mat results. Stats are a great way to justify an inkling you have about the habits of a wrestler, but as a predictive measure -- in MMA, and wrestling -- they'd fall short of forecasting future behavior. Nothing can overcome the weight with which we learn to value certain positions, opponents and timing. All takedowns aren't equal. Hitting a successful double leg against Ed Ruth in the second period is much different than hitting a first-period takedown against the fourth stringer from a tiny DIII school. Statistics haven't yet made an accommodation for that type of human computation or pattern recognition.

Q: I know you have answered plenty of questions when it comes to rankings ... so here is one more! Why is it that when wrestlers do not compete they hold on to their rankings? Many athletes suffer illness, injury, and even giving up forfeits during the last match of a dual if the match is no longer in contention ... examples of this has been Mike McMullan and Andrew Compolattano, both have missed several matches against ranked opponents or have been out of the lineup due to injury but both remain in the top 15, at least on the InterMat site.
-- Confused Big Ten Fan

Foley: I think it would be foolish to assume that either of the wrestlers you mention in your question were ducking opponents in order to preserve a ranking, or a seed at NCAAs. McMullan placed third at NCAAs last season and Camp is a legitimate stud. It's much more likely that they were managing small setbacks, like ankle tweaks than actually dodging opponents. Tough to penalize them in the rankings for suffering from injuries that could happen to any wrestler.

Q: Was looking through the InterMat rankings and see that at 174 8 of the top 10 ranked wrestlers are in the Big Ten. I'm interested in your breakdown of the Big Ten tourney at 174. So many interesting matchups and more than one possible champion. This is going to be a great bracket!!!
-- Tom G

Foley: Your exclamation marks say it all. Let's get to the wrestling already! Anything could happen once the shoes hit the Resilite, but we know that the quarterfinals should break into something like this (expected seeds):

No. 1 Logan Storley (Minnesota) vs. No. 8 Dan Yates (Michigan)
No. 4 Nick Heflin (Ohio State) vs. No. 5 Matt Brown (Penn State)
No. 3 Bob Kokesh (Nebraska) vs. No. 6 Jordan Blanton (Illinois)
No. 2 Mike Evans (Iowa) vs. No. 7 Lee Munster (Northwestern)

No. 1 Storley vs. No. 5 Brown
No. 2 Evans vs. No. 3 Kokesh

No. 5 Brown vs. No. 3 Kokesh

Bob Kokesh


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NJDan (1) about 5 years ago
re 174: I think you are forgetting Perry, no?
donkeylips (1) about 5 years ago
Shocker! Another very uninteresting and poorly written "mailbag." Foley, at UVA, did you ever take a technical (business, legal, or otherwise) writing class? I'd at least expect you to know the difference between then and than. Keep up the excellent work buddy (and by excellent, I mean [much] less THAN)!
sbecker (2) about 5 years ago
donkeylips, your name suits you well!
camachov23 (1) about 5 years ago
What a d@#k. Can you send us your work product so we can proof it?
PADAVE2001 (1) about 5 years ago
Shocker? Do either of you know what conferences these teams compete in? Perry wrestles for Oklahoma State, which in case you didn't know, is in the Big 12. Last time I checked, OK. STATE did not compete in the Big 10 Championships.
DannyClarke (3) about 5 years ago
NJDAN: Chris Perry wrestles for Okie State and they aren't in the Big 10.

Donkeylips: You're a joke and an internet troll. I'm sure you went to a far less prestigious university and received a lackluster education.

Now you vent your frustrations by pointing out spelling and grammatical errors on the internet. Nice Job! (and by nice job, I mean go play in traffic)
dob092095 (2) about 5 years ago
NJDan, Perry not forgotten, I'm sure, but he's not in the Big 10. The script will be a little different at NCAAs. However, I think he will beat a big disadvantage. Look at those 8 names. Whomever wins Big 10 has faced a crusher of a bracket. Who will Perry see at small 12? As a PSU homer, I'm rooting for Brown but this is definitely the class to watch before the finals. I don't imagine there will be too many bonus points scored by anyone at 174 at BIG10.
BoHunter0210 (3) about 5 years ago
PADAVE and DannyC beat me to it. Perry OKST BIG12.

Donkeylips-thanks for the grammar lesson.

Thanks for another great read Foley!
donkeylips (1) about 5 years ago
@PADAVE- you're incredibly dumb because I made not indication that I believe Perry is in any conference, especially one other than the BIG 12. As for, you're a bigger idiot. I went to a great school, one that taught me the importance of grammar. But thanks for your input you silly little rocket scientist, you. I'm sure even Foley could tech you in under two minutes. BTW, when your son learns a proper shrug, send him my way so I can slap him around a bit. On second notice, why don't you step up to the plate, Nancy?
JWild (2) about 5 years ago
"I made not indication..." I think you meant "no".

Obviously at your "great school" they did NOT teach you the proper way to proof read and edit any submitted piece of writing.

Stop bashing Foley, he's a great addition to the wrestling media. Keep up the great work T.R.!
DannyClarke (1) about 5 years ago
You critique grammar and use "LOL" everything you say is invalid. That is all.
eet5017 (1) about 5 years ago
The "bear jew"? Steinhaus isn't even Jewish you idiot.
trfoley (1) about 5 years ago
Ha. It's a reference to Inglorious Bastards by our man Muir. We certainly don't research or care about a wrestlers religious beliefs.
donkeylips (1) about 5 years ago
JWILD, you're right, I made such an egregious error. That being said, I'm not an author and I'm hammered. However, that doesn't change the fact that Foley's articles are still mediocre at best.
Simon Phoenix (1) about 5 years ago
Dustin Kawa... is that you? You dog.
dob092095 (1) about 5 years ago
Winning 4 titles is an achievement in and of itself. However, I find it hard to care or understand why doing it at 4 different classes makes any difference. I grew almost 50 pounds between starting and graduating college. Granted, I was small at 18 but doing it all at one class I'd think would be much harder. Managing weight when you are growing. So Dake is growing up and getting heavier. Growing up, what a concept. Why is that more deserving of respect than what Pat or Cael did?
trfoley (1) about 5 years ago
You might be right. We've gotten so caught up in the idea that he did it at four weights, we haven't analyzed what that actually means. I think there is a connection made among fans between going up in weight and taking on better competition. Might not be true, but it's the thought process. I commend him for having the intelligence and confidence to follow his body, and not listen to anyone who told him after his freshman year that he needed to stay down.

Thanks for the comment. I'll start working on getting some numbers together for a more substantial comparison of Dake and Cael.
PowderRiver (2) about 5 years ago
Dake doing it at 4 different weights is impressive, particularly because of the weight classes he did it (possibly) at(141, 149,157,165), which are hugely competitive year-in year-out. While 184 has been stacked in recent memory, 197 is usually not nearly as competitive or athletic. Also, Dake was a true freshman D1 champ, unlike Cael who redshirted. That alone is huge.
NJDan (2) about 5 years ago
The reason doing it a four weights is even more impressive is that it shows that Dake was not nearly fully grown when he won at 141. He was just a kid.

By the same token-- and I think this is more impressive than winning at four weights-- is that he did it as a true freshman. Cael didn't so that. Neither did John Smith (he didn't even place his freshman year) or Brands or Cary Kolat or many others who wo two or three title. Pat Smith did win as a true frosh, but he redshirted later. Mocco didn't do it.

Dustun Schlatter won as true freshman
stealthtrade (2) about 5 years ago
You have to love Dake, I don't know his weight situation but I get the sense he wanted to get Taylor. On the weight issue, I saw this in high school and this year in particular I see some people having terrible years, Thorn at MN and Scott Winston at Rutgers come to mind, because the weight is killing them. I don't know if Thorn can beat Dardanes but I certainly can see that Winston is dodging Dake and Taylor (don't blame him) but he can't do anything at 157 so would be better off at 165 and see if he could place.
TLS62PA (1) about 5 years ago
In response to recent all-americans who haven't won states, I can think of a bunch from PA, but was wondering what years they were going by?

I can think of Phil Davis, Keith Gavin, Moore bros, Aaron Anspach, Pat Cummins, Jordan Accordino, James Fleming, Ryan Williams, Zach Sheaffer, Matt Moley. That's just right off the top of my head from PA alone.
TLS62PA (1) about 5 years ago
I know it said last ten years, but was wondering if they meant graduated high school in the past ten years, or college in the last ten years.
trfoley (1) about 5 years ago
I hadn't either! Got stuck in :37 my senior season. Was just referring to 2012 NCAA tournament.
chasev619 (1) about 5 years ago
I can think of 3 right off the top of my head who won an ncaa title and never won a state title. Derek Moore-UC Davis, Keith Gavin-Pitt, Phil Davis-PSU
NJDan (1) about 5 years ago
I realized just after I made my comment that this item was about the Big 10, not the NCAA. I tried to delete the comment, but it would not let me.
trfoley (1) about 5 years ago
No worries. You brought on some great conversation.
donski23 (1) about 5 years ago
"As for personality and program, as a writer I think both favor Dake in terms of appeal and storyline." I think the difference is personality Foley but as a fan I appreciate Cael's humilty. That humility from a wrestler that dominated a sport like no other for 4 years was what drew me in. That isn't to say that Dake doesn't have a great personality, I think he does. But he certainly comes off more arrogant...just my opinion.
trfoley (1) about 5 years ago
I smell what you're stepping in. We'll see the media reaction if he wins that fourth title
jkwjr52 (1) about 5 years ago
if Penn State is the top team, why are they not undefeated???????
trfoley (1) about 5 years ago
By all means, if you really think they aren't the top team, then you should make a very large wager against their repeat.
busterbobb35 (1) about 5 years ago
If Penn state isn't the best then who will win at NCAA tournament? Penn state will win again and again next year..
brutus81 (1) about 5 years ago
"Bear-Jew"? I'm intrigued. Pray elaborate.

In high school, our star tail-back was 1/2 Jewish, 1/2 Sicilian, and some kids gave him the nick-name "Jew-Back".

It was funny at the time. I don't know how it'd play today.
trfoley (1) about 5 years ago
Nickname bestowed on the beast by Brian Muir during the BP podcast. Compliment about his size and ferocity in homage of the character in Inglorious Basterds. It's my understanding he's not even Jewish.
takedown95 (1) about 5 years ago
I'd love to hear your reasoning behind Matt Brown being in the big ten finals especially considering he hasn't beat a top five wrestler this year and you have him beating two guys he has already lost to. On the other hand Storley has been on a tear since losing to Perry at mid season.
trfoley (1) about 5 years ago
Simple: I have a Matt Brown bias. He impresses me even if he hasn't won all the close matches, and got stuck by Storley.
busterbobb35 (1) about 5 years ago
I agree,brown can easily turn around his close loses and make it to the finals at big tens
vulture (2) about 5 years ago
I thought a "stud" was a horse not a wrestler. Taylor is going to beat Dake and Storley has been damn lucky. Brown in the finals? lol,lol,lol,lol.
jnbroncos (1) about 5 years ago
Interesting how you have the 2 guys at 174 who didn't go through the brutality of the National Duals as the Big Ten finalists. Maybe your journalistic way of saying that Cael is smart for not putting his team through 2 meat grinders before the NCAAs without looking like you don't support the National Duals? Either way I will bet money that whoever wins the Big 10 tournament at 174 won't win the NCAA tournament, but the NCAA winner will still be from the Big 10!
trfoley (1) about 5 years ago
Love your side of that bet! Not only would the B1G winner have to beat two of his conference foes at NCAAs he'd also have to beat Perry. You should book that bet with someone because your make some cash!

Thanks for the note.
retired2005 (1) about 5 years ago
retired2005 (1) about 5 years ago
Before the police get excited, I intended I'm in my next to last sentence!
Robin Ficker (1) about 5 years ago
The Asperator, Josh Asper of Maryland, will win the NCAA's at 174, no matter what the BIGs do!
busterbobb35 (1) about 5 years ago
Robin dicker must b that nut that wears duck shorts and combat boots and swears Maryland is the best. no way Asper wins the NCAA title
midniteride (1) about 5 years ago
Regarding the National Duals, it is my understanding the idea behind it is to help expand fan interest/base. And yet the recent championship in wrestling country of Minnesota attracted about 2,400 fans while Penn State @ Rutgers attracted almost 7,000. Just seems like propaganda by those pushing for this to become mandatory.
retired2005 (1) about 5 years ago
I would appear the national duals are a flop whether certain elements of the coaches would care to admit it or not. Like anything involving athletes and the NCAA, the coaches voted on this concept not the athletes as far as I know. I would be very interested in a vote of wrestlers from each team regarding their interest in participating. Wrestlers being the ones who would be doing the wrestling not the entire team.
AFurnas (1) about 5 years ago
Two items:

Only 6 non-state champs reached AA status in 2012? Out of 80 AAs? That's shocking to me. There are some excellent wreslters who never win state titles, and I would think that, even with fewer D1 programs and hence stiffer competition to "make the team," a larger number could develop into top-8 collegians over the course of 4 or 5 years. Would be interesting to know if 6 is roughly "normal" these days.

Second: LOVE the Bear-Jew reference! Inglorious Bastards is definitely one of my favorite movies; gotta watch it a couple times a year (much to the chagrin of my wife). Plus Steinhaus is definitely a stud, and I could see him winning at 197 in a year.
les (1) about 5 years ago
125, 149 and 174 are meat grinders, not that the other classes aren't but to win titles at those classes almost assures a #1 seed at the NCAAs. I love McDonough, as a wrestler of course, very tough kid , BUT he lucked out getting the #1 seed and having Delgado and Megalutis battle as #2 and #3 seeds. He'll have a tough time in the finals either way. #133 should be a great match up, Stieber and Ramos.