The wrestling community was given seven months to correct their mistakes and lobby itself back into the Olympic Games. In the states, Bill and Jim Scherr established the Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (CPOW) as a place for businessmen to raise money, PR agents to develop a global strategy, and politicians to collaborate their lobbying efforts. There were dozens of similar efforts launched around the world, which helped FILA vote in new leadership and motivated the wrestling community to be outspoken in their support of the sport's claim to Olympic legitimacy.
Like many of my peers, I spent much of the seven months doing what I could to help promote the sport and improve the coverage of relevant events. To commemorate the efforts of the worldwide wrestling community, I'd been working for the past few months on a book to commemorate wrestling's improbable Olympic comeback.
"Full Circle: The 209 Days That United the World and Saved an Olympic Sport" is a hard cover coffee-table book that puts into focus the worldwide campaign to Save Olympic Wrestling. The book utilizes photography from around the world and tells the story of the remarkable people and events that went into the largest sport re-instatement campaign in Olympic history. It's 112 pages, and thanks to the hard work of photographer Tony Rotundo and designer Cliff Fretwell the finished product looks pretty sweet.
Sales started today at www.trfoley.com/fullcircle and books will be mailed from the printer on Feb. 12 -- the one-year anniversary of the IOC's announcement. Please feel free to email me with any questions about the book, and thanks in advance for your support of the sport.
To your questions ...
Q: What happened to Olympic Training Center top recruits Destin McCauley and Pat Downey? I noticed that they are no longer listed on the roster for Nebraska.
-- Jason H.
Foley: Not sure what happened, but I can tell you that Destin McCauley is now on the Nebraska-Kearney roster.
Pat Downey moved to Oregon. He is training for the U.S. Open and plans to pursue an MMA career.
Q: Did Foxcatcher get pushed to the end of 2014 so that it can contend for the 2015 Oscars?
Foley: Director Bennett Miller is a known perfectionist and from the rags it seems he chose to push the movie back so that he could perform more edits. It's unclear if he didn't like the movie in its final form, or if he was motivated by the draw of awards season. You have to assume both were a factor.
There is no updated release date for the movie, but unless he holds it until November, it won't be an intentional nominee for the Oscar. Those movies are almost always back-loaded in the calendar year. Summer is for blockbusters and the holidays are for award movies. However, given the tone of the trailer and the mood of the movie he will either release by March or hold it for the second half of next season.
The one benefit of the story is that there is no time hook, so it'll be relevant at any time, and with an ensemble cast it'll garner a bunch of attention.
Q: If things continue as they have and Andrew Howe and David Taylor remain undefeated and each wins their second NCAA championship, who would you say was the best recent two-time NCAA champ out of Howe, Taylor, and The Renegade of Funk, Ben Askren?
-- Curt H.
Ben Askren (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)Foley: The Renegade of Funk is a superb title for Mr. Askren. Bravo.
I'm going with Askren, mostly because he was an innovator in the sport. Taylor would be second, because without Kyle Dake, he's a three-time champion. Howe is impressive, but the length of his career took some steam out of his career.
I can't form a solid argument for anyone outside of Askren. He was offensive, entertaining and dominant. Howe can't score the same amount of points and though Taylor does, the Dake-driven interruption of his dominance made him human. When Askren was rolling, it was difficult to imagine any wrestler challenging him for seven minutes.
Q: How common is it for a true freshman, like Adam Coon, to get ranked No. 1 at heavyweight?
Foley: I'm not sure it has ever happened. My brain is throbbing from an exhaustive and inconclusive search so let's get to answering the heart of your question: Stud freshman heavyweights are exceedingly rare, and top-ranked true freshmen almost non-existent. Adam Coon is doing something unique, and though he hasn't beaten Tony Nelson or Mike McMullan, he's shown the ability to beat anyone and everyone else.
Coon is rare. He's athletic enough to scramble and big enough to use weight. More importantly he seems intelligent enough to know when to utilize each. He'll need that decision making against Nelson and McMullan, the former a monster who never gets in bad position, and the latter an exceptionally talented scrambler. He's prone to making mistakes, and though he gets away with them now, those two might find a way to capitalize where others have failed.
Coon's ascendancy might also indicate that Michigan's infusion of talent is starting to pay off. Add in another All-American or two this season, and then welcome back some redshirts, and the Wolverine program could be in good shape, and come 2106 they might sneak onto the team podium.
We should start getting some answers this weekend when Coon faces Nelson in a Big Ten dual.
Q: So it's a Friday night and the two most storied teams in all of NCAA wrestling are set to face off ... and it's not televised. I know you can stream it on BTN2Go and they will probably show it on delay, but what kind of world are we living in where Michigan State vs. Ohio State hockey gets the starting spot over Hawkeyes vs. Cowboys, the greatest rivalry in college wrestling and one of the best in college sports, and what can we do to change this?
-- Sean M
Foley: Keep watching. Keep tuning in. Keep supporting the sport.
Hockey is a professional sport and those schools have fans who will watch them on television. Right now wrestling can't match that popularity, even if it is Okie State and Iowa. All Big Ten hockey is just going to get better numbers live.
Wrestling fans also have a tendency to watch their sport on DVR. Other sports have this as well (namely baseball), but when a sport is known to be watched on tape delay the network doesn't feel the urge to show it live when a tape delay might garner the same audience.
Keep calm and watch on. We're growing.
Q: I have a question. Is belt wrestling (as seen in the Russian belt wrestling federation) in which a fixed grip must be taken upon the belt at all times, the original form of wrestling in your opinion? Or are the loose hold styles (kushti, etc,) the oldest forms of wrestling?
-- Nolan P.
Foley: Assuming that man began life unclothed and that all athletic competitions started from necessity and leisure time, I'd guess that loose hold styles were more likely to have occurred first. Supporting this idea is that the first written document is a wrestling technique book that seems to be instructing non-belted wrestlers. Cave scrawling also depicts naked, or thinly clothed wrestlers. Of course the Ancient Greek Olympics wrestled in the nude.
Belt wrestling seems to have started in the Northern Europe, the Caucuses and Mongolia, almost certainly as an answer to the conditions, which prompted the use of jackets. In fact, as you move south from these areas the clothing gets shed. In Chinese Shuaijiao competitors in Hebei-style will wear a short sleeve gi jacket and shorts. Of course in India you get back to only superhero shorts.
Wrestling has found a variety of avenues to popularity. In Mongolia it came as part of training for battle and social interaction. In India, a way to honor the God Hanuman and for poor boys to get off the street. Here in America it filtered down from an imported Irish brand of collar and elbow wrestling that later splintered into professional wrestling -- the sport was a form of entertainment and used for keeping youth out of trouble.
As I'm sure you've read before, Wrestling is Everywhere, but defining where it started and when is often a fool's errand.
New video from Minnesota wrestling
Link: Basketball is a JOKE
Surfing is RAD
Q: Should the Big Ten wrestling conference follow football's formula? Separate into two divisions o seven teams and have a conference championship dual meet. I would also add that at that conference championship match all the schools attend and have cross-bracket dual or two. The dual title now is settled by conference record, but all teams do not wrestle each other. Right now they have nine duals/dates in the Big Ten. This new format would only take seven dates, thus giving more flexibility to the school on their schedules.
IE. (Penn State @ Boston U, Iowa @ Bucknell, Michigan @ Utah Valley) ... I think it would give the premier wrestling conference another showcase event and help other programs to have a showcase home event.
The two divisions as I see them ...
-- Joe P.
Foley: Absolutely great idea. The Big Ten would make a ton more money off that one match!
There are always hurdles to bettering the competition schedule, and the first would be the NCAA allowing the Big Ten to add a date to their calendar. Right now there are 16 dates on the official team schedules. A Big Ten championship dual would mean going over that number. To adjust the entire NCAA could move up a slot, allowing a 17th date of competition at the discretion of the schools, or institute a special week for any dual team championship a conference would like to sponsor.
The bigger problem is that most wrestling fans and advocates haven't embraced the idea that dual meets are a proper way to title a team championship. The NCAA has announced plans to gradually work those championships into the team competition in March, but it's too slow, and doesn't go far enough.
The NCAA team champion should be decided by a team competition.
Though wrestling is an individual sport the outcome of the team competition needs to be settled by team competition. The distinction will provide tremendous revenue potential for the sport by affording the casual fan an easy entry point to the sport.
Unlike pro sports, loyalty within college athletics isn't pieced together. Fans of Kent State football tend to be fans of Kent State women's basketball. Colleges work off name identification and brand loyalty, and it's important that wrestling take advantage of that process. Your idea for a Big Ten dual meet championship is an example of that loyalty to school and conference.
Though the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships are widely regarded as a commercial success, should a system be created that allows for a team champion, it would soon play second fiddle to the team race. Why? Because fans can follow one bracket made up of identifiable teams much easier than they can ten brackets of 33 wrestlers.
Simplicity helps with branding, media and ticket sales.
Individuals can still pursue their individual titles, and now they can do so without the team race providing that constant and dull distraction. The media can focus on individual characters and their accomplishments, rather than giving half-attention to a team race.
The individual tournament provides drama because you can see the wrestler win and lose NCAA championships in plain sight. The NCAA team race is calculated by math league geniuses and is often decided without an immediate celebration. Penn State won the 2012 team title BEFORE the finals.
At the NCAA level a three-week dual meet format would allow for the creation of Cinderella teams and do so in a time of year when basketball doesn't provide direct opposition. I'd be thrilled to see my Virginia Cavaliers make the bracket. What if they upset a team like Minnesota in the first round on their way to the final eight, or four? That would be huge news at the university and among alumni.
Live sports sell and there are plenty of sports channels to air the matches. This is wrestling's next great opportunity, and we shouldn't sit back and allow the leadership to tiptoe into change.
Q: I had to snap a pic of this middle-schooler at a middle school wrestling tournament I hosted last weekend. I also couldn't help but notice more than one or two boys who chose to wear a long sleeve Under Armour-type shirt under the short sleeve rash guard uniform top. These guys were both a little chubbier than the others and were certainly more comfortable wearing the fight shorts and rash guard instead of a singlet. We started at 10 a.m., had 330 bouts, finished by 4:15 p.m., and the middle school halves and headlocks seemed to be unaffected by the extra material on their uniform.
-- Andrew F.
Foley: This kid, and you, are my heroes! What does a little extra fabric matter? That kid looks good, and if he's a little chubby now he can hide that behind his shirt and shorts.
Is our well-dressed teenage wrestler's act of protest the first shot into the shiny walls of flimsy Fort Spandex?
COMMENT OF THE WEEK
By Ryan L.
When I first heard about the NCAA starting to use video review in wrestling in some venues, I thought it would possibly be a great idea because it is always disappointing when the outcome is altered by a wrong call. Having witnessed the rule in action on multiple occasions, I now strongly oppose it. Here's why:
1. Delay. Whatever the outcome, a significant delay results. In a sport that conditioning is so important, any delay can impact the momentum of the match and give guys a chance to rest. A coach could even potentially make a frivolous challenge just to cause a delay.
2. Outcome. The outcome of the challenge can have unusual impacts. Lofthouse's most recent loss to Ruth had a challenge in the first period that resulted in awarding a takedown to Ruth during a scramble that wasn't initially called, then adding over one minute of time back on to the clock. This event brings up two concerns. First, things look different in review than in real time. I don't know if they use slow-motion or regular speed, but a view of one or two frames could give the impression of control when a scramble is still occurring. Second, setting the clock back to the moment of the takedown caused over a minute of wrestling to not count. That's pretty crazy.
I have even seen the video reviews turn out to be inconclusive. I think it was good that this was attempted for a couple of years, but the results are in. Video reviews are bad for wrestling. To improve accuracy of calls, a second official should be required for all Division I matches.